Lloyd Blankfein has got a problem with Bernie Sanders.
Blankfein is hardly alone in his reluctance. Politico reports Wall Street is in a collective “freakout” about the septuagenarian socialist’s ascendance to Democratic Party front-runner following his overwhelming victory in the Nevada caucuses this past weekend.
But Blankfein’s beef with Sanders is petty and personal: He doesn’t like it when Sanders bashes billionaires like himself, or when he proposes things like a wealth tax. Like many in the financial sector, Blankfein so hates to see billionaires criticized that he would apparently consider voting for President Trump instead — a man who has mistreated so many people and groups, and who has challenged our democracy in frightening ways.
I could go on against Blankfein’s morally challenged tripe. But instead, I think he should hear from Gloria Pharr, Linda Overbey and Michael Collins. I first interviewed these Nevada voters last spring, and I spoke with the three of them again over the weekend.
None of them caucused for the Vermont senator last week. But unlike the self-interested Blankfein, they all told me that they will vote for Sanders if he becomes the Democratic Party nominee: no ifs, ands or buts.
Pharr, a retired corporate executive whom I met at a Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) rally last year, ultimately went with Tom Steyer. But she told me her number one priority is replacing Trump. “I don’t care who the candidate is, honestly. I just want Trump gone,” she said.
Trump, Pharr believes, is not simply a man of bad character and little integrity, but one who is unconcerned about the rights of minorities and cares less about the environment than about “big companies making money." As a result? “I am fully on board if Bernie wins the nomination,” Pharr told me.
I encountered Overbey, a former Hollywood set designer and now a self-described “union painter” in Las Vegas at the same rally. She thrilled to Warren’s vision but ultimately concluded a woman was just not going to get elected, and switched her support to former vice president Joe Biden.
But Overbey says she will pull a lever for Sanders if he’s the party’s pick. She’s still not a huge fan, she tells me — Sanders “just goes on and on and to me it’s a fantasy.” But he’s better than Trump. “Trump is tearing us apart,” she said. “I want to get back to some normalcy.”
I initially spoke with Collins, a registered nurse who works with renal transplant patients, at a candidates’ forum on wages and labor issues. He’s a longtime labor and health-care activist — he proudly tells me he got arrested in 2017 protesting the attempted repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
Collins also supported Warren in the Nevada caucus. But he said he’s on board with Sanders if he’s the party’s nominee. Yes, he’s aware that if Medicare-for-all becomes the law of the land, union negotiated health insurance could be a thing of the past — in fact, he went with Warren because he felt that was less likely to happen under her proposed health-care reforms.
But Collins — unlike, say, Blankfein — gets that you can’t have it all, and tossing Trump from the White House is his highest priority. “The thing that will make [Sanders unelectable] is if people don’t get behind our candidate 100 percent,” he said.
Overbey, Pharr and Collins are not billionaires, but they’ve managed to figure out something that the finance sector big shots have missed: They understand the 2020 election is about more than just themselves. If they can put aside their personal preferences to save the United States from Trump, surely Blankfein and the rest of our billionaire class should be able to do the same.
Bernie Sanders: More opinions on the 2020 candidate
Read Post op-eds by Sanders:
- Deficit hawks once again show their hypocrisy on military spending
- The straightest path to racial equality is through the one percent
Explore recent columns from Post opinion writers:
- Nathan Robinson: Why Sanders should keep fighting
- Jennifer Rubin: What’s the moral justification for Sanders fruitless campaign?
- Helaine Olen: Bernie Sanders has won more than you think
- David Byler: Sanders should drop out of the Democratic primary for the sake of public health
- Dana Milbank: The Sanders revolution has stalled
- Katrina vanden Heuvel: Get ready for the anti-Sanders media avalanche
- Henry Olsen: The GOP would never have united to stop Trump like Democrats did with Sanders
- Megan McArdle: The Berniemobile is filling up with Realist-Idealists, Revolutionaries and Bandwagoners
See The Post’s View from a recent editorial: Bernie Sanders shifts his tone, but will it last?
Get more information on Sanders’s candidacy and policy positions.
How are Warren and other candidates faring in the Post Pundit 2020 Power Ranking? Here’s the latest installment.
Want more on the 2020 elections? See all of The Post’s coverage.