United States Congress

This is no political stunt, folks: In his newest article, Rolling Stone’s biggest marquee reporter, Matt Taibbi, sizes up Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bid for the presidency in the 2016 election and concludes that Sanders is the real deal.

Taibbi makes no secret of his admiration for Sanders, praising his character and motives as a politician and breaking down the reasons the self-avowed socialist will join the ranks of Democratic candidates in the 2016 race (via Rolling Stone):

But Sanders genuinely, sincerely, does not care about optics. He is the rarest of Washington animals, a completely honest person. If he’s motivated by anything other than a desire to use his influence to protect people who can’t protect themselves, I’ve never seen it. Bernie Sanders is the kind of person who goes to bed at night thinking about how to increase the heating-oil aid program for the poor.

This is why his entrance into the 2016 presidential race is a great thing and not a mere footnote to the inevitable coronation of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. If the press is smart enough to grasp it, his entrance into the race makes for a profound storyline that could force all of us to ask some very uncomfortable questions.

Here’s the thing: Sanders is a politician whose power base is derived almost entirely from the people of the state of Vermont, where he is personally known to a surprisingly enormous percentage of voters.

His chief opponents in the race to the White House, meanwhile, derive their power primarily from corporate and financial interests. That doesn’t make them bad people or even bad candidates necessarily, but it’s a fact that the Beltway-media cognoscenti who decide these things make access to money the primary factor in determining whether or not a presidential aspirant is “viable” or “credible.”

Sanders doesn’t have the billionaires in thrall, but as Taibbi sees it, his credibility comes from a more valuable source: actual human beings, and his appeal to same. Further, he’ll be able to make use of his play for the White House as a means to offer “an implicit challenge to the current system of national electoral politics.”

Regardless of questions about his viability or marketability—or perhaps in spite of those more cynical strands of political thought that pundits and candidates follow diligently during election cycles—it’s safe to say that the same cannot be said about what any other presidential hopeful on the 2016 horizon can do simply by making a go of it.

And Taibbi knows a good zinger when he writes one, as he also takes the opportunity to haul the mainstream press over the coals, noting the “little-known fact” that “we reporters could successfully sell Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or any other populist candidate as a serious contender for the White House if we wanted to.” Luckily for Sanders, here’s at least one reporter who clearly wants to do just that.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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