Tío Bernie Chats With Cardi B on Coronavirus, Trump & Making Biden More Progressive

Lead Photo: Cardi B performs onstage at the 2019 BET Awards on June 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Cardi B performs onstage at the 2019 BET Awards on June 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
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Slicing open a mango with one of her freshly done nails, Cardi B tapped into Instagram Live yesterday to chat with her viewers—around 123K at one point—about the many ways she’s saddened by the subsequent effects of the coronavirus crisis. Savings accounts depleted to fund bills and basic survival, pregnant women giving birth restricted from having loved ones present in hospital rooms, others in the hospital who are very ill, whether related to coronavirus or for another reason, unable to have any kind of visitors and some of them dying alone—all of this is so upsetting, she relates.

Then, all of the sudden, Cardi B announces someone will join her soon. “You know I’m a little slow with technology, technology is not my thing,” she says, looking for the right contact. We still have no idea who it is.

Then she shouts: “Uncle Bernie!”

The U.S. senator and, until recently, hopeful democratic presidential nominee, asks how his nails are, presenting them onscreen. “They’re looking very quarantine,” Cardi B laughs.

An outspoken, longtime supporter of Sanders, Cardi B tells him she “had a fit” on a previous Instagram live because she was “so hurt” upon learning he’d dropped out of the race. Now that he’s endorsing Biden, she says, it’s important for her fans to know more about the presumed Democratic candidate.

“I’ve been so focused on you,” she says, “I haven’t really done my research well on Joe Biden. I kinda do, but not as much.”

Before Sanders can start, though, Cardi switches gears: “When does he think America will open back up?” she asks pointing out how 45—she refuses to say his name—and some state governors are calling to reopen the U.S. already.

“I don’t feel like it’s safe,” she says.

“Nobody knows,” Sanders explains. The when and how of cutting down anti-pandemic measures will be different across the country. “There is no switch to turn on America,” he adds. But shares testing to know whether a person has the virus or not, and testing for antibodies that might make a person immune to the virus, could be part of the process of moving forward.

In Wuhan, China, where the virus originated, Cardi says, they’ve taken extreme surveillance measures to control the spread. “They do a certain type of scanning, so when somebody goes to the hospital with the virus, they can detect where you got the virus and if you’ve been around a person who has the virus,” she says. But that wouldn’t work in the U.S., she thinks: “That’s just too much information on the people.”

“We don’t want to be having all kinds of information on everybody in America,” Sanders agrees. But how do you find a balance between stopping the spread and maintaining civil liberties?

“The main thing right now is to stop the spread,” he says. “And the other thing is to make sure if somebody is in the hospital they get the care they need… That doctors and nurses have the protective gear they need. We’re losing doctors and nurses because they sometimes… don’t have the [equipment] to protect themselves.”

The convo turns back to the election at this point, and Cardi B keeps it real, as always: “A lot of people, like the youth, they don’t really rock with Joe Biden because he’s conservative,” she points out. Obama was strategic in choosing Biden as his VP, she processes out loud: “That’s how he got the conservative vote.”

Bernie nods throughout Cardi’s analysis. She then bluntly asks what we all want to know: Why should we vote for Biden?

Sanders begins with a disclaimer: From the beginning of his run, he reminds us, he always said he’d endorse the winning Democratic nominee (no matter what) as a means of getting Trump out of office.

In this screengrab taken from campaign website, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) endorses Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden during a live streaming broadcast on April 13, 2020. Photo by via Getty Images
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“Donald Trump is, to my mind, the most dangerous president in the modern history of America,” he clarifies. “This is a guy who lies all the time, he doesn’t believe in science, he downplayed this coronavirus which has led to the deaths of many thousands of people unnecessarily, he doesn’t believe in the constitution, he thinks he’s above the law. So this is a bad-news guy that has got to be defeated—and I will do everything that I can to defeat him.”

Bernie continues his role as Vermont’s senator, of course. But beyond that, he’s working with Biden “to see that he becomes a more progressive candidate.” He’s set on pushing Biden to support a minimum wage of at least $15 an hour, to ensure all young people can attend college regardless of income and (drumroll, please) to cancel student debt for many.

“I would go further in all of these areas than he goes,” Sanders says. “But he is moving in the right direction.”

He adds that he thinks Cardi will also be pleased by Biden’s adjusted stances on criminal justice and immigration reform. We’ll be hearing “strong statements” from him soon, Sanders assured.

Grave concerns about poor coronavirus protections for ICE detainees and prisoners is widespread, including among public health officials and corrections officers.

“We are in this point because of him,” Cardi B says, returning to talk of 45. “He could have avoided this in January.”

It’s possible Cardi might have supported flight restrictions on people coming from affection regions. “I have a lot of love for the Chinese people,” she says. “But… a lot of people felt like it would have been racist or prejudiced to close the borders… But how come it wasn’t prejudice when we closed the borders during the Ebola virus and it never even got here?”

While there was talk of closing U.S. borders during the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak, travel from affected countries was not ultimately altogether banned. Instead, flight restrictions were implemented.

Still, the point stands: Trump “put capitalism and trading” ahead of the people’s health. And he won’t even apologize, she notes.

“That’s one of the things about this guy,” Sanders responds. “He doesn’t apologize, and he lies all of the time, and he blames other people.”

He’s blaming the World Health Organization, he adds, “which is enormously important… in trying to bring scientists and doctors together.” Now, Trump has officially announced a suspension of WHO funding for 60 to 90 days.

“So what we’re trying to do now in congress is go around Trump,” Sanders concludes. Moving “aggressively” is paramount. “We want to make sure people continue to get their paycheck,” he adds, noting the measure passed to ensure airline industry employees, whether working or not, continue to receive pay for the next six months.

Once goodbyes are said, Cardi tells viewers, “We are in for a ride after everything goes back to normal again. I want people to know that it’s not going to be normal again.”

But she says this excitedly, with enthusiasm. Even in her attitude, there is something important to absorb: Now and for the foreseeable future, we need as much of that energy as we can muster.