For the past few weeks, the mainstream media and those that call-in to its shows or comment on its sites have seemingly coalesced like T-Cells to eviscerate a single infection. They’ve even marshaled the likes of Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, Mike Bloomberg, Kamala Harris, Corey Booker, and countless other pundits and prognosticators to assist in the call to arms. Like Bill Murray waking up on Groundhog Day, every article and newscast has featured a marauding mob who’ll trample anybody or anything just to be on the side that’s winning. It’s been a real time example of what happens when someone challenges a system, but I, for one, had seen enough. You can’t stay neutral when a decent human being’s getting pummeled by the crowd, especially when he’s fighting for you and your friends.
So I wrote a letter James Bennet, editorial page editor of the New York Times, to try to help out. The Times had been particularly condescending and outright derisive and I thought it should know. Unfortunately, my note wasn’t selected for publication, so I’m reproducing it below. Thanks for checking it out!]
Dear Mr. Bennet,
Over the two past weeks, it’s become increasingly clear that your opinion writers have never met a few of my fellow Americans: The veteran with shrapnel from Iraq still stuck in his leg, the freelancer who goes without health insurance because the lowest plan is $400 per month on New York’s marketplace, the Ocean Breeze homeowners whom Sandy made homeless, or the students at CUNY who are about to drop out because they can’t cover their tuition.
Maybe if they had, they wouldn’t be so dismissive of people like them who’ve already combined to give nearly $74 million to the one presidential candidate who actually addresses their circumstances: Senator Bernie Sanders. It’s Mr. Sanders who’s listened and learned from them that maybe ending endless wars, providing medicare for all, enacting a green new deal, and making public universities free would be a good thing for every American.
Instead, you’ve allowed your columnists to go on shellacking Mr. Sanders for suggesting a decent response to these festering problems is a radical idea.
Take David Brooks, for example, who mocks him for thinking outside the box: “Sanders was a useless House member and has been a marginal senator because he doesn’t operate within… [the] system.” Or Nicholas Kristof, who implies that Sanders’ “grand hopes [to change that system] won’t come true” because his pipe dreams aren’t shared by anyone else in the country.
Then there’s Jennifer Finney Boylan. She’s had it with Mr. Sanders because he’s too forthright and repetitive when articulating his ideas. He’s like that Frankenstein ogre, she laughs, stumbling about saying “Bernie angry! Bernie smash!” Or is he the Hulk? Well, actually, Ms. Boylan admits, he’s “not the Hulk, and not only because he turns red instead of green when he gets his dander up.” But wait, on second thought, maybe he is! “There should be bumper stickers,” she derives, “Bernie Sanders: The Crabby Warrior. Sometimes, he gets so furious while he’s speaking that he changes colors.” In other words, don’t pay him any mind. He’s the village idiot.
What’s hypocritical, though, is how you’ve let your scribblers attack Mr. Sanders for not being a “real” democrat while they themselves push undemocratic activity whenever it suits their needs.
And, yes, that’s Thomas Friedman. His concept of voters deciding who to elect to office goes like this: In the wake of Super Tuesday, he wants “Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton” to “invite Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren to the Capital.” In a secret room somewhere, they’ll rightfully choose the proper Democratic nominee for President. After all, that’s how you “defeat Sanders’ left-wing populism” and his “uncompromising ‘democratic socialist’ ideas.” Lock him out of the process and ignore the people.
But if Mr. Friedman cared about what veterans, freelances, former homeowners, and CUNY students had to say, perhaps he’d discover that his take on democracy is the type they’re sick of hearing. But, sadly, neither he nor any of his colleagues have these apparently insignificant Americans in their circles to ask.
Photo by Rick Stachura. March 7, 2020.
Lobby 67 West Street. Greenpoint, Brooklyn.