About this podcast
(posted August 2, 2015)
Bernie Sanders — the 73-year-old United States Senator from Vermont and a self-described democratic socialist — is running for President.
And so far, he’s a huge hit. At a recent campaign rally in Madison, Wisconsin, Sanders attracted nearly 10,000 people. In Portland, Maine, more than 7,500 people showed up. None of the other Democratic or Republican presidential candidates — more than 20, at last count — have drawn bigger crowds than Bernie. In fact, no one is even close.
What’s odd is that I’m intrigued by Sanders, too. But I’m not what you’d call a progressive or a Lefty. I’m not a MoveOn member. I don't read The Nation. In fact, if you’d told me a year ago that one day I’d be even remotely interested in the political campaign of a guy like Sanders, I’d have called you crazy.
But Bernie demands attention because he says out loud, clearly and with conviction, what so many Americans are thinking. He describes the dangers of income inequality, and why “banks that are too big to fail are too big to exist.” He says the super-rich are buying elections and undermining our democracy. And he knows he can’t fix it by himself, so he’s calling for a grassroots revolution in America.
When it comes to jobs, health care, education, the environment, and more, Sanders offers plenty of answers. But his campaign raises lots of questions, too, such as: What could a President Sanders realistically accomplish with a Congress that’s hardly a hotbed of socialism? Can the labor unions he champions still provide something worthwhile to workers? And: Do Americans really want a bigger, more activist government — or are they just pissed off with the status quo?
For me, though, the biggest question is this:
Why has Bernie Sanders, a rumpled 73-year-old Lefty from the tiny state of Vermont, suddenly captured the imagination of so many Americans of all ages — including my 17-year-old son, who still isn’t old enough to vote?
Put another way: Sanders is appealing not just to progressive voters or to people who feel economically marginalized. He’s also huge among suburban teenagers.
Something is clearly going on.
On Searching for Bernie, I’ll be exploring what that something is, who believes it, why it matters, and whether or not it’s here to stay.
I hope you’ll join me.
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In case you’re wondering: Yes, I plan to vote for Bernie Sanders in the Maryland primary next year. But the purpose of this podcast is not to spread the Gospel of Bernie. Rather, I’m trying to explore exactly what voters see in him, and why they’re so excited about his message and his candidacy. Because, in the end, the energy and enthusiasm that Bernie Sanders has been generating is about far more than just Bernie Sanders.