His critics say he’s not realistic – but they have it backwards
Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone
Anyone who's survived without felony conviction a few terms as a senator, governor or congressperson, has an expensive enough haircut, and has never once said anything interesting will likely be judged a potentially "serious" candidate.
If you're wondering why no Mozarts or Einsteins ever end up running for president in America, but an endless succession of blockheads like Rick Perry are sold to us on the cover of Time magazine as contenders, it's because of this absurd prerequisite.
When you stop believing in the electoral process, then the only questions left to interest a professional observer are who wins, and how many laughs there will be along the way. We've gotten good at thinking about these things. Cassidy's bit about Sanders harmlessly occupying the left flank and blocking more "plausible" candidates from threatening Hillary is exactly the kind of sounds-smart observation we've been trained to believe passes for political journalism today.
Conversely, we've been trained not to care about which old ladies are freezing to death this week because some utility somewhere is turning the heat off, or who's having their furniture put on the street by a sheriff executing a foreclosure order, or who's losing a leg to diabetes because they didn't have the money for a simple checkup two years ago, etc.
None of those characters make it into campaign reporting. As good as we are at the horse-race idiocy, we suck that much at writing about these other things.
Sanders is a clear outlier in a generation that has forgotten what it means to be a public servant. The Times remarks upon his "grumpy demeanor." But Bernie is grumpy because he's thinking about vets who need surgeries, guest workers who've had their wages ripped off, kids without access to dentists or some other godforsaken problem that most of us normal people can care about for maybe a few minutes on a good day, but Bernie worries about more or less all the time.
I first met Bernie Sanders ten years ago, and I don't believe there's anything else he really thinks about. There's no other endgame for him. He's not looking for a book deal or a membership in a Martha's Vineyard golf club or a cameo in a Guy Ritchie movie. This election isn't a game to him; it's not the awesomely repulsive dark joke it is to me and many others.
And the only reason this attention-averse, sometimes socially uncomfortable person is subjecting himself to this asinine process is because he genuinely believes the system is not beyond repair.
Not all of us can say that. But that doesn't make us right, and him "unrealistic." More than any other politician in recent memory, Bernie Sanders is focused on reality. It's the rest of us who are lost.