Noam Chomsky's First Campaign Contribution Was To Bernie Sanders*

Online FEC records dating back to 1997 show he's given to just two candidates.

01/22/2016 01:08 pm ET
  • Zach Carter Senior Political Economy Reporter, The Huffington Post
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Noam Chomsky has supported just Ralph Nader and Bernie Sanders since 1997, according to online FEC records.

Radical intellectual Noam Chomsky has supported just two federal political candidates with campaign contributions over the past 18 years.

Chomsky gave a total of $750 to Ralph Nader's 2000 presidential bid. But a month before he started cutting checks for that corporate reformer, Chomsky had already given $200 to a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Vermont named Bernie Sanders.

At the time, Sanders was running for his fifth term as Vermont's sole representative in the lower chamber. When Sanders ran for Senate in 2006, Chomsky added $1,000 in support, and he kicked in another $200 when Sanders sought reelection in 2012.

Thus far in the presidential cycle, Chomsky hasn't given to any candidate, according to online FEC records, which date back to 1997. It's possible Chomsky could have given to campaigns that predate the federal records. Chomsky did not respond to a request for comment.

Chomsky has long been a sharp critic of the capital class and its power to subvert democratic ideals. He called the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision "The Corporate Takeover Of Democracy," in an article for In These Times. But Chomsky also has a pragmatic streak. He assailed President Barack Obama's international drone assassination program as a moral outrage, but encouraged swing-state voters to support his reelection in 2012, on the grounds that a Mitt Romney presidency would be worse.

Chomsky is still an admirer of Sanders today, but has dinged his campaign operation for not harnessing its energy into a longer-term populist movement.

"Take, say, the Bernie Sanders campaign, which I think is important, impressive," Chomsky told teleSUR's Abby Martin in October. "He's doing good and courageous things. He’s organizing a lot of people. That campaign ought to be directed to sustaining a popular movement that will use the election as a kind of an incentive and then go on, and unfortunately it's not. When the election's over, the movement is going to die. And that's a serious error."

"The only thing that’s going to ever bring about any meaningful change is ongoing, dedicated, popular movements that don't pay attention to the election cycle," he said. "It's an extravaganza every four years. You have to be involved in it, so fine. We’ll be involved in it, but then we go on. If that were done, you could get major changes."

Jason Linkins and Zach Carter are co-hosts of the HuffPost Politics podcast "So That Happened." Subscribe here or listen to the latest episode below:  

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