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The Schmooze

Watch Bernie Sanders And Cardi B Debate Policy In A Nail Salon

This week, he ate a corn dog at the Iowa State Fair.

She traveled on a private jet (though she often flies Delta.)

He used to volunteer on an Israeli kibbutz.

She’s a former stripper, who joked on Monday that she got breast implants because she can’t swim, and they help her float.

Both are heavily-accented unlikely mega-stars from Manhattan’s outer-boroughs, both lead loyal fandoms of non-rich Americans in search of revolution, and both agree that “the most important issues that impact you” are “education, jobs, wages, police brutality.” She endorsed him in 2016 and reaffirmed her support for his second presidential bid in April.

And Senator Bernie Sanders and rapper Cardi B explored that common ground in a conversation about race, class and U.S. policy in a video interview posted to social media on Thursday.

“Do I know nail bars?” Senator Bernie Sanders jokes to kick off the sit-down, which was filmed in a Detroit nail salon and paid for by Sanders’ campaign. In the ten-minute video, heavily teased by both Sanders and Cardi B on social media over the past several weeks, the two finish each others sentences while speaking about racism, police brutality, rates of incarceration of black men, DACA, universal healthcare, taxes, wages, the job market, a $15 minimum wage, free tuition and the importance of the youth vote. They also showed off their fingernails, styled in dramatically different ways. (We’ll leave you to guess whose looked better.)

Although Cardi B famously sings “Nothin’ in this world that I like more than checks,” whereas Sanders’s campaign rails against “millionaires and billionaires,” the two are natural allies. Cardi, a Bronx-born rapper who rocketed to success online in the summer of 2017, is at home breaking down the nuances of domestic policy and gently grilling the Senator on how, exactly, he plans to pay for his plans without raising everybody’s taxes. Sanders, a 77-year-old Vermont senator, gazes at acrylic nail trappings and tries to look relaxed.

“When I was not famous I just felt like no matter how many jobs I get I wasn’t able to make ends meet,” Cardi explains. Sanders nods energetically, adding, “Can you imagine somebody today earning $9 an hour?”

“It doesn’t make no sense!” Cardi shouts.

“No, it doesn’t!” adds Sanders.

“We constantly see our men getting killed every day and it feels like nobody cares, nobody sympathizes, nobody’s talking about it,” Cardi says. “Something like one out of four young black men in this country end up in the criminal justice system,” Sanders responds. “That is disgusting and beyond belief” he adds, before detailing his plan to invest in education and job-training.

Cardi, in a high-necked, pistachio-colored dress, clearly came prepared to reach as many viewers as possible. “I don’t want people thinking that we’re trying to attack the police,” she adds, feelingly. “There’s a lot of cops that go in their jobs and they want to protect their people.”

“A lot of people don’t want extreme socialism,” she tells him, smirking like a teenager telling her dad that his golf shirt looks stupid. And Sanders continues his streak of sounding exactly the same, all the time, whether he is talking to Cardi B, a reporter or Sasha Baron Cohen in disguise.

Cardi reacts to Sanders’ proposed plans around DACA

It’s worth noting that Cardi appears to be launching one of the most sophisticated celebrity campaigns for a presidential candidate in living memory. Better than Katy Perry’s endless songbird-ing for Hillary Clinton, better than the parade of Hollywood A-listers that supported Barrack Obama and even more nuanced and exacting than Sarah Silverman’s many clever endorsements.

“Register to vote. It is not hard,” Sanders lectures in the last moments of the video. “Trump does not want people of color to be participating in the political process. Participate in the political process.” And Cardi, talon-like nails folded neatly in her lap, nods, graciously.

Jenny Singer is the deputy life/features editor for the Forward. You can reach her at [email protected]

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