Bernie Sanders sat down with rapper Cardi B at the TEN Nail Bar in Detroit to discuss some of the major political issues facing Americans. From criminal justice and racial inequality to wage stagnation and student loan forgiveness, the New York natives talked some of the hottest topics from the campaign trail. The conversation comes after 26-year-old Cardi B, who has been vocal about her political views and support for 77-year-old Sanders, took to Instagram in July to ask followers to submit questions for her “favorite” Democratic presidential candidate.
Sanders’ 2016 campaign was criticized for failing to connect with minority constituencies, especially with black and Hispanic voters. Sanders’ sit-down with Cardi B comes on the heels of a renewed effort by the senator to address the shortcomings of four years ago for 2020 and extend his message to various groups, especially millennials. Sitting down with Cardi B in her capacity as a self-proclaimed advocate for the youth, Sanders seemed eager to lay out his message clearly as possible. When the rapper asked about Trump’s bullying and police brutality against racial minorities, Sanders wasted no time in calling the president an “overt racist” before jumping right into his three-part approach to racial injustice and criminal justice reform. “Obviously we need to end all forms of racism in this country, from Donald Trump down to the local police department,” the Vermont senator said.
While the senator did manage to slip in a few questions to the rapper about touring abroad and their mutual admiration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the duo mostly stick to politics and Sander’s policy proposals. Sanders made his case for immigration reform, promising Cardi B that he would restore and expand the protections of DACA. In response to a question about healthcare, Sanders described his stance against private insurance companies: “The bottom line is, the current system works to make billions of dollars in profit for the insurance companies and the drug companies, I want to change that.” When Cardi B asked him if universal coverage will increase taxes, he explained that, while “you do pay more in taxes depending on your income, the overwhelming majority of the people will end up paying less than they are currently paying on their healthcare”—especially, he says, since people won’t be paying premiums, deductibles, or copayments under a universal plan.
“What are we going to do in America about wages?” Cardi B asked. “As a New Yorker, not now, but y’ know, when I was not famous, no matter how many jobs I’d get, I wasn’t able to make ends meet. I wasn’t able to pay my rent, get transportation and eat.” The senator then dove into his platform of higher minimum wages and reviving unionization and collective bargaining. As much fun as it is to see Sanders talk to Cardi B, he didn’t really say anything that anyone familiar with his stump speech would be surprised by. Maybe that’s because he has more to gain by staying abstract, letting the very existence of the interview boost his recognition with key audiences. But it would be nice if Sanders started treating his audiences like voting-age adults who can understand and analyze policy.
This is especially true at the end of the conversation, when Cardi B prompted Sanders to describe his plans to address a problem of special concern to millennial voters: student loan debt. Sanders’s proposal for student debt forgiveness and tuition free higher education brings a wistful tear to the eye—or it would, if you weren’t already up to your eyeballs in debt. Without solid details, it’s hard to take Sanders seriously on the issue, whether he’s speaking at a podium or from a salon chair.