As I’ve discussed before, one of my concerns about politics in Patriarchy is the desperate longing it creates for heroes, followed by almost certain disappointment, followed by seizing onto the next hero, the one who THIS TIME is going to bring about Hope and Change, or The Revolution, or whatever. And one of my major concerns with that cycle is that it causes us to overlook real people who have realistic plans for change. As this primary election cycle has worn on, I’ve noticed an increased determination on the part of Senator Sanders’ supporters to become almost fanatic about their new hero. Anyone who questions how he plans to actually implement his Revolution is a naysayer, someone who must support the establishment, and why are you telling young people to give up and that they’re stupid, hmmmm?
Over the past few days, some cracks have appeared in the Great Man’s aura of perfection. Senator Sanders still hasn’t released his tax returns and he appears to have been dishonest about what he has disclosed.. Senator Sanders isn’t the only candidate to refuse to release his full tax returns, but he’s the only current candidate for the Democratic nomination who is doing so. As the linked article explains, “In the 2016 election, two candidates have been notably transparent compared to others: Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.” When pushed, Senator Sanders says, well, his wife does their taxes, as if it’s somehow her fault that their tax forms haven’t been released, and then notes that he and his wife have been busy. But so has Secretary Clinton and she’s been “notably transparent.” (And, let’s be honest: Senator Sanders has raised a huge amount of money and it’s not his wife’s job to release his taxes. That’s a job you hire accountants and lawyers to do.)
What information Senator Sanders has released indicates that he’s not a very charitable person: “Sanders had dismissed the idea of charities in his early days as mayor — and that view was confirmed in his 1995 tax return, which showed Sanders donated just 1 percent of his income ($1,369) to charity. During a United Way event in 1981, Sanders told the crowd: “I don’t believe in charities,” and questioned “the fundamental concepts on which charities are based.”
Of perhaps even more concern, with the New York primary coming up, Senator Sanders sat down for an in-depth interview with the New York Daily News in an attempt to win the paper’s endorsement. It did not go well. The main problem is that, in the one area that Senator Sanders has made the lynchpin of his promised Revolution — bank reform — he was woefully unprepared to answer questions about how he’d actually go about doing what he’s promised: breaking up big banks.
Daily News: Okay. Well, let’s assume that you’re correct on that point [that the banks have too much power and need to be disempowered]. How do you go about doing it?
Sanders: How you go about doing it is having legislation passed, or giving the authority to the secretary of treasury to determine, under Dodd-Frank, that these banks are a danger to the economy over the problem of too-big-to-fail.
Daily News: But do you think that the Fed, now, has that authority?
Sanders: Well, I don’t know if the Fed has it. But I think the administration can have it.
Daily News: How? How does a President turn to JPMorgan Chase, or have the Treasury turn to any of those banks and say, “Now you must do X, Y, and Z?”
Sanders: Well, you do have authority under the Dodd-Frank legislation to do that, make that determination.
Daily News: You do, just by Federal Reserve fiat, you do?
Sanders: Yeah. Well, I believe you do.
Daily News: So if you look forward, a year, maybe two years, right now you have… JPMorgan has 241,000 employees. About 20,000 of them in New York. $192 billion in net assets. What happens? What do you foresee? What is JPMorgan in year two of…
Sanders: What I foresee is a stronger national economy. And, in fact, a stronger economy in New York State, as well. What I foresee is a financial system which actually makes affordable loans to small and medium-size businesses. Does not live as an island onto themselves concerned about their own profits. And, in fact, creating incredibly complicated financial tools, which have led us into the worst economic recession in the modern history of the United States.
Daily News: I get that point. I’m just looking at the method because, actions have reactions, right? There are pluses and minuses. So, if you push here, you may get an unintended consequence that you don’t understand. So, what I’m asking is, how can we understand? If you look at JPMorgan just as an example, or you can do Citibank, or Bank of America. What would it be? What would that institution be? Would there be a consumer bank? Where would the investing go?
Sanders: I’m not running JPMorgan Chase or Citibank.
Daily News: No. But you’d be breaking it up.
Sanders: That’s right. And that is their decision as to what they want to do and how they want to reconfigure themselves. That’s not my decision.
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.
Senator Sanders is intelligent and articulate, but this borders on Sarah Palin answering “All of them that they put in front of me,” when asked what newspapers she reads. And Senator Sanders had reason to expect these questions as his critics’ main point has been that he won’t actually be able to do most of what he promises, that he lacks specific plans, that he’s promising more than he can deliver. But when given a chance to explain how he’ll do what he says he’ll do, well, he hasn’t “studied the legal implications” of prior attempts to do exactly what he proposes. He just hopes — refusing to answer the question about what happens to employees of big banks when you break up the banks — that an improved economy will cause banks to make more loans to small businesses. His plan is that “you will have legislation passed,” but he has no explanation for how he’ll do that with the same Congress and Senate that have refused to pass nearly every single one of President Obama’s proposals.
We’ve got a problem here, folks.