Why Bernie Sanders is Punk Rock

If you’re a punk, then you already know that Bernie Sanders is punk rock.

If you call yourself a punk and don’t agree, then you’re either a total poser or a skinhead punk which, if the latter, I think the Dead Kennedys say how I feel about that.

There’s still hope for all you posers, however. Take it from me, born and raised in punk rock (check out my pops the drummer) and now working in the world of underground fast, raw and chaotic music—there is no doubt in my mind that Bernie Sanders is punk as fuck.

You might be thinking, “but punks are anti-government” or “real punks are anarchists” or whatever. That is a common misconception made by posers. Real punks help each other out. And to help each other out we need a fair and just society. Sanders gives that notion a glimmer of hope.

He’s been on the right side of history for decades. In 1963 Bernie Sanders was arrested for protesting against segregation. He’s pictured struggling in the hold of two police officers, feet kicking and face frozen in an eternal righteous chant. What punk hasn’t been arrested? And for something like fighting for desegregation? Now, that is what I call punk rock. I was only arrested for trespassing to get some underage drinking in. Bernie is way more punk rock than me.

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He and his wife Jane O’Meara Sanders are credited for keeping the D.I.Y. punk scene in Burlington, Vermont alive, where Bernie Sanders was elected mayor in 1981 and re-elected three times. The D.I.Y. all-ages venue 242 Main, helped bands like Fugazi get their start and is now one of the oldest D.I.Y. venue still standing in the country. As someone living in NYC and witnessing D.I.Y. punk venues come and go like the tourists, it’s beautiful to see an underground punk spot survive in a society designed against them.

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When Sanders became mayor in 1981, he started his own cable access TV series called Bernie Speaks. He used this show to chat with the people in his community, especially those considered misfits in the ‘80s—like, oh I don’t know, punks. In a now-viral episode from 1988, Sanders chats with two mall punks, dressed in all black with funky haircuts, dark lipstick and safety pins pinned to their clothes. Instead of focusing on their choice to not conform to societal looks, he asks them what it means. Think about this—the mayor of a town allowed a couple of punks talk on public TV about how society is fucked and run by the rich. Now, that is a punk working from the inside to bring down the man.

’Bernie Speaks’

Let’s not forget all the cool bands currently supporting him. Sure, the bands that have played his rallies aren’t really punk—The Strokes, Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend—but they’re still bands that strike a chord with music lovers. And even though he’s got the dream lineup for indie lovers, underground punks such as Native Sun, Thick, Mean Jeans and many others are on his side too. They’re constantly posting their support for the candidate on social media, shouting about it at live shows and I would not be surprised if I start seeing all the gritty NYC punk spots throwing shows to benefit Bernie. There’s already Baby’s All Right throwing Bern Fest on March 1, Our Wicked Lady doing a covers show on March 10 with one band going on as Bern-182 (like Blink-182 if you didn’t get the reference…) and a D.I.Y. event on Feb. 29 called Boomtown for Bernie, which you need to ask a punk for the address.

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Simply, Bernie being the lone wolf in politics crying for revolution and working against corruption, is the most punk rock thing anyone can do. His words can basically be turned into punk songs—seriously, why isn’t there a band doing that right now? His ideas that some consider “radical” are what punks have been shouting about for years. Bernie Sanders is truly sticking it to the man and out punks everyone.