Convicted leaker Chelsea Manning has finally broken his silence on why he's decided to run for office in Maryland, challenging a sitting Democrat, Sen. Ben Cardin, who enjoys a substantial lead over any progressive challengers: he wants to "challenge the establishment."
"This is not the home I expected to come home to,” Manning told Stars & Stripes. “This is another prison. ... I need to figure out how we’re going to survive it.”
“The establishment needs to be challenged, and it needs to be challenged in their footholds and in the places where they feel safe,” he said.
That might make sense to Chelsea, but it doesn't make a lot of sense to most political strategists. The key to winning a "challenge" against the establishment forward is to win elections — and Ben Cardin is in no danger of Chelsea coming even close to accomplishing some sort of upset victory.
Challenging the establishment is especially difficult if you have no platform and Chelsea seems reticent to reveal any of his issue positions to the military magazine (though he does reveal that he counts himself in the same company as famed author Oscar Wilde and anarchist leader Emma Goldman).
The only stand Chelsea is willing to take is, unsurprisingly, against keeping anyone in jail.
“This isn’t about criminal justice reform,” he said. “It’s about criminal justice restructuring. We need to start closing prisons. We need to start releasing prisoners.”
That is unlikely to find many true believers.