There is a YouTube video of Bernie Sanders in conversation with a black guy called Killer Mike in an Atlanta barber shop, which I watched over the past couple of days. I very much enjoyed the conversation, and several things struck me as interesting, beyond the points which both men were trying to make.
The first was that when Killer Mike was speaking Sanders was not merely waiting impatiently for him to finish, but was actively listening to him with eye contact and with gestures of agreement as Mike made specific points. What politician does that? Well, Sanders says he’s not a politician, and maybe he’s not. That would be a good thing.
Another was that during the entire lengthy conversation, not one time did Sanders divert his response to a topic other than the point which Mike had raised. Again, politicians have policies which are points of vulnerability and which they prefer to avoid, either because their solution is unpopular or because they have no solution to offer, and so when those issues arise they segue their answers off to another topic. Sanders stayed with the issue until his interlocutor was ready to move on. He gave the appearance of a man who is very comfortable with his positions.
About one minute into Part 2, Sanders talks about the course of his political career, saying that unlike most career politicians, “I didn’t get into politics to figure out how I could become President or a Senator.” I think there is truth in that. He comes across as a man of very little personal ambition; more concerned with what he can do than who or what he can be.
I actually think Obama started out as such a person but was seduced by the power of the office. In hindsight, it seems to me the seduction began well before he ran for president. Anyway…
Sanders is, perhaps, a little bit of a wishful thinker. At one point Mike is talking about seeing a current mindset of selfishness and greed in the nation’s culture; of today’s voter basing decisions on what they want personally rather than what is in the nation’s best interest. Sanders replies that he sees that in the wealthy and financial sectors, but that he does not believe that it extends to the working middle class Americans. One has, I think, only to look at who the voters are electing and reelecting to see the flaw in Sanders’ thinking.
I have problems with some of Sanders’ foreign policies, but I am beginning to like him more and more on the domestic front and as a leader. And, aside from the insight into Sanders, I liked Killer Mike quite a lot.