Keep Bernie weird

If it were only a matter of holding the right policy positions and having a more or less consistent record on progressive issues — to say nothing of clearly articulated plans — the favorite son of the American left would in fact be a daughter, i.e., Elizabeth Warren. But Warren, for all her substance (not to mention her fascinating background in Oklahoma), still seems very much like the sort of person who is, well, a politician: a graduate of a good law school who taught at Harvard before being elected to the Senate.

Whatever Bernie is, it isn’t a politician, at least not in the conventional sense. In the American popular imagination he has become an avuncular hanger-on, the Democratic equivalent of the village atheist who has been banging on about these absurd ideas — like not letting people go broke to pay for their children’s health care or letting billionaires pay slightly higher taxes — for so long that sooner or later they started to catch on. He is a kind of hippie Fred Rogers, a nostalgic throwback to a simpler time when people were kinder and less greedy and there were fewer brands of deodorant.