Bernie Sanders can’t name one David Bowie song, and that’s okay
At Fusion’s 2016 Brown & Black Democratic Presidential Forum Monday night, the candidates addressed issues such as sexual education, immigration, and that orange menace, Donald Trump. But amid this substantive discussion came a topic that’s being tweeted about just as much as the others: Bernie Sanders can’t name a single song by recently departed musical icon David Bowie. WTF?
Bernie couldn’t name a David Bowie song. (Full disclosure: I couldn’t either until today.) #DemForum
— Rick Klein (@rickklein) January 12, 2016
Immediately, people began tweeting about how upsetting it was that Sanders, the man on whom we are hanging our last hopes of progressivism in America, never really got into our beloved Starman. How’s he supposed to bring ch-ch-changes when he hasn’t even heard Bowie’s 1972 hit about such?
BERNIE SANDERS WAS 31 WHEN ZIGGY STARDUST CAME OUT AND HE CAN’T NAME A FAVORITE BOWIE SONG. — devin faraci (@devincf) January 12, 2016
Bernie Sanders can’t name a single Bowie song so I think he just lost the Twitter vote. #DemForum
— Mark Lotto (@marklotto) January 12, 2016
Bernie can’t name ONE Bowie song? Disqualified — Jim Consolantis (@jconsolantis) January 12, 2016
Bernie just said he’s not a Bowie fan. I don’t know what to do now.
— daniel sieradski (@selfagency) January 12, 2016
Granted, a lot of these people are probably joking and I doubt anyone will change their vote to Clinton as a result. But for me, this just highlights the degree to which Sanders refuses to pander.
To a large degree, elections are lost or won on cultural signifiers and dog whistles to indicate a candidate is “one of us.” For instance, Barack Obama likes Bob Dylan, pesto pizza, and Toni Morrison. He seems like someone I would have gotten along with, had I gone to college with him, which I would have if I were 20 years older. Even as I’ve watched him kill people with drones, expand domestic spying programs, and aggressively deport immigrants, I’ll admit I’ve retained an irrational fondness for the man. He’s certainly harder for a leftist to hate than a Dubya, who, of course, appealed to his right-wing base in exactly the same ways Obama appeals to the left. Where has any of that gotten us? Not to single-payer healthcare, that’s for sure.
As Hillary Clinton falls over herself to appeal to young, progressive voters in similar ways, it’s refreshing to see a candidate who refuses to play that game. Despite being older and arguably less hip than Clinton, Sanders is bringing out young people in droves. Who cares if he’s heard Diamond Dogs when he’s got a plan to un-fuck this oligarch-ravaged country?
If you ask me, Sanders’ monastic, single-minded dedication to reforming the system to the point that four-plus decades of popular music passed him by is a point in his favor. But lest you think he doesn’t care about music at all, check out the spoken word album he created in 1987 in conjunction with local folk artists of Vermont. Like all things Sanders, it’s progressive, blunt, and 100% focused on his constituents.