In an illuminating interview with the New York Daily News, Bernie Sanders demonstrated he’s completely out of touch with how ordinary, everyday working-class people board the subway. But his theories about how you might do so are delightful!
The Daily News’ editorial board sat down with Sanders, focusing fairly intensely and critically on his previous comments about Wall Street, the economy, financial regulation, and breaking up the big banks. It’s widely being proclaimed that the interview didn’t go all that well for Sanders (the Washington Post is declaring it a “disaster”).
That’s an overstatement, but the conversation did occasionally grow very uncomfortable when Sanders was pressed for specifics:
Sanders: You would determine is that, if a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist. And then you have the secretary of treasury and some people who know a lot about this, making that determination. If the determination is that Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan Chase is too big to fail, yes, they will be broken up.
Daily News: Okay. You saw, I guess, what happened with Metropolitan Life. There was an attempt to bring them under the financial regulatory scheme, and the court said no. And what does that presage for your program?
Sanders: It’s something I have not studied, honestly, the legal implications of that.
The same lack of specificity came up when Sanders was asked about another frequent talking point, namely that no one at any major financial institution has been held criminally liable for tanking the economy:
Daily News: Okay. But do you have a sense that there is a particular statute or statutes that a prosecutor could have or should have invoked to bring indictments?
Sanders: I suspect that there are. Yes.
Daily News: You believe that? But do you know?
Sanders: I believe that that is the case. Do I have them in front of me, now, legal statutes? No, I don’t. But if I would...yeah, that’s what I believe, yes. When a company pays a $5 billion fine for doing something that’s illegal, yeah, I think we can bring charges against the executives.
Daily News: I’m only pressing because you’ve made it such a central part of your campaign. And I wanted to know what the mechanism would be to accomplish it.
Sanders: Let me be very clear about this. Alright? Let me repeat what I have said. Maybe you’ve got a quote there. I do believe that, to a significant degree, the business model of Wall Street is fraud.
But the most flabbergasting moment by far was when Sanders revealed that he still believes people use subway tokens.
Daily News: I know you’ve got to go in a second. When was the last time you rode the subway? Are you gonna a campaign in the subway?
Sanders: Actually we rode the subway, Mike, when we were here? About a year ago? But I know how to ride the subways. I’ve been on them once or twice.
Daily News: Do you really? Do you really? How do you ride the subway today?
Sanders: What do you mean, “How do you ride the subway?”
Daily News: How do you get on the subway today?
Sanders: You get a token and you get in.
Daily News: Wrong.
Sanders: You jump over the turnstile.
Daily News: We would like our photographer to be there when you jump over the turnstile.
Sanders: I’m like anybody when I….
Tokens were discontinued in 2003 and Sanders has, in fairness, lived in Vermont for a real long time. Together, though, let’s all dream of a glorious future where we have no functional idea how the subway works.
Sanders campaigning in Janesville, Wisconsin, April 4, 2016. Photo via AP