When Bernie Sanders visits a high-school class, as he does regularly, students don’t hear a speech, a focus-grouped polemic, a campaign pitch or, heaven forbid, practiced one-liners. Nor, in all likelihood, do they hear Sanders tell stories about his family, childhood or some hardship he has endured. He makes no great effort to “connect” emotionally in the manner that politicians strive for these days, and he probably doesn’t “feel your pain” either, or at least make a point of saying so. It’s not that Sanders is against connecting, or feeling your pain, but the process seems needlessly passive and unproductive, and he prefers a more dynamic level of engagement.
“I urge you all to argue with your teachers, argue with your parents,” Sanders told a group of about 60 students at South Burlington High School — generally liberal, affluent and collegebound — one afternoon in mid-December.
[...]Next topic: “How many of you think it was a good idea to give the president the authority to go to war in Iraq?”
He paused, paced, hungry for dissent, a morsel before lunch. Sanders says he thinks Iraq was a terrible idea, too, but he seemed to crave a jolt to the anesthetizing hum of consensus in the room.
“Iraq is a huge and very complicated issue,” Sanders said, finally. (“Huge” is Sanders favorite word, which he pronounces “yooge,” befitting a thick Brooklyn accent unsmoothed-over by 38 years in Vermont.) He mentioned that Vermont has had more casualties in Iraq per capita than any other state in the union, including one from South Burlington High School.
“O.K., last call for an Iraq supporter,” he said. Going once, going twice.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Sunday's New York Times Profiles Bernie Sanders, Vermont's "Socialist" Senator
If you missed The Times' profile of Vermont's only Independent (nee Socialist) senator, catch it here. I offer you but a snip: