Noam Chomsky: Bernie Sanders is good for the Democratic Party

The linguist and philosopher reflects on the Vermont senator and our broken electoral system

By Zaid Jilani

Published August 12, 2015 9:00AM (EDT)

  (<a href=''>fotostory</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>)
(fotostory via Shutterstock)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNet The linguist and political analyst Noam Chomsky is one of the most quoted individuals in the world, and one the globe's most prominent thinkers.

Although he has a sizable following, he is rarely seen in mainstream media, and has only been called to testify before Congress once (during the Vietnam War).

Yet today Chomsky finally has a mutual admirer in the political system, and he happens to be out-polling every GOP contender.

In May of 1985, then-Mayor Bernie Sanders of Burlington, Vermont brought Noam Chomsky to talk about the U.S. military intervention in Latin America. “At a time when many intellectuals...find it more comfortable to be silence and to go with the flow as it were, it is comforting to find on occasion individuals who have the guts to speak out about the important issues of our time, and certainly Professor Chomsky has been the person to do it,” he said.

Watch Bernie introduce Chomsky, and Chomsky's address to Burlington:

A friend of mine emailed Chomsky recently to ask about the Sanders campaign. This is what Chomsky said:

I'm glad that Sanders is running. A good way to bring important ideas and facts to people. His candidacy might also press the Dems a little in a progressive direction. In our system of bought elections he has scarcely a chance of getting beyond the primaries, and even if by some miracle he were elected he wouldn't be able to do anything, lacking any congressional representatives, governors, etc. As far as I can see he's a thorn in the side of the Clinton machine, which is not a bad thing.

A few months ago, The Guardian  also asked Chomsky about Sanders, and received a similar response. When they informed Sanders of this response, he said he was “not as pessimistic as Noam...He’s right, we live in an increasingly oligarchic form of society, where billionaires are able to buy elections and candidates, and it is very difficult, not just for Bernie Sanders but for any candidate who represents working families. But I think the situation is not totally hopeless, and I think we do have a shot to win this thing.”

Zaid Jilani

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Alternet Bernie Sanders Noam Chomsky