Rapper Killer Mike interviews Sen. Bernie Sanders as they both sit in an Atlanta barbershop — and the interview is rich, direct, and wide-ranging. Sanders and Killer Mike are sympatico, you might say, holding a number of the same beliefs — but that tacit agreement doesn’t much pad the dialogue or amp the puffery. (Mike does let Bernie get into his stump, but it’s for an audience that hasn’t heard him.) Striking about the interview is the way it highlights the fact that political ideas and convictions resonate across racial and age boundaries — that some ideas aren’t just appealing to a narrow group they’ll benefit. Killer Mike brings straight-up high-school-history grounding to Sanders’ position as a socialist, trying to strip the word of some of its fright and trace it to FDR and American greatness.
Killer Mike asserts that FDR and many of his policies were at heart socialist, and that those socialist-based policies helped the country rise to the greatest prosperity ever achieved by a nation. Sanders simply nods his head saying “You got it” in his undiluted Brooklyn-ese. Killer Mike explains to Sanders that people of his “ethnic community” haven’t had a chance to hear what Sanders really thinks — and that they’re being misinformed by the pigeonholing of Sanders as a socialist, which means something different than what they’ve been told. Sanders explains it’s about rights. And that “to be truly free, you need economic rights,” which low wage workers — many in Killer Mike’s ethnic group — don’t have. They talk a lot about how history bears out the advantages of broader rights for citizens. Despite Mike’s history aptitude, Sanders definitely has the edge here — since he admits he grew up “400 years ago.” The long interview has been broken up into six parts. (Below is a good place to start.)