Should Bernie Sanders become a Democrat? | The Tylt
Should Bernie Sanders become a Democrat?
Bernie Sanders ran as a Democrat in the 2016 because he believed it would get him "more media coverage." While he was ultimately defeated by Hillary Clinton, Sanders won 43 percent of the primary vote, and a lot of attention has been paid to the 13.2 million people who were part of Sanders' "revolution."
“I was elected as an independent; I'll stay two years more as an independent,” Sanders, 74, said at the Bloomberg Politics breakfast on Tuesday... When asked if Sanders considers himself a Democrat or an independent after the event, a campaign aide stated, “He ran for president as a Democrat but was elected to a six-year term in the Senate as an independent.”
Some have applauded Sanders' decision not to join the Democratic Party, even urging him to run as an Independent in 2020. Jacob Weindling argues in Paste Magazine that the Democratic Party is "hopeless" and the country needs Sanders "now more than ever."
There has never been a better opportunity to dissolve the two-party duopoly designed to eliminate our common ground—creating the hyper-partisan conditions which allowed Donald Trump to waltz into the Oval Office... There will likely never be a better opportunity for an independent candidate to win the presidency. It would be an uphill battle given the trillions of dollars invested in this hegemony, but Bernie Sanders is the only third-party politician with a large enough following to unchain us from our puppet masters.
There is also the fact that Sanders really has nothing to gain from becoming a Democrat at this point. The party appears to have given him the keys―to the chagrin of his former opponent Hillary Clinton―without any clear expectation of reciprocation. On almost every key policy issue, Sanders has moved the party's platform to the left. Why would he become a Democrat now when so many people love him precisely because he isn't one?
But others feel Sanders has an obligation to join the Democratic Party if he is serious about his policy visions and defeating Republicans in 2018 and President Trump in 2020. Michael Starr Hopkins argues in The Hill that Sanders and his supporters need to stop focusing their energy on ripping apart Democrats, and instead join their ranks to improve the party from within. If they really care about issues like single-payer healthcare and social justice, they need to join the Democrats.
All the talk about building an economy that works for all Americans means nothing if “Bernie bros” attack every Democrat who isn’t Sanders. He isn’t even a registered Democrat. I would love to hear Sanders’s opinion on how the Democratic Party can rebound and rebuild, but it has to be preceded by him actually joining the party, not merely using it as a vessel for his run for president. Democrats are your allies, not your punching bag or your Uber.
As long as Sanders exists outside of the Democratic Party, he will never be able to fix the party's problems. As it is now, many feel Sanders and his supporters are helping Republicans more than anything, making it even more difficult for progressives to succeed.
Attacks from Sanders and his supporters on Democrats aren’t helping to rebuild the party, nor are they helping to build a strong economic message. Attacks from Sanders and his supports are an unnecessary Kamikaze mission that will undoubtedly lead to more Republican victories.
And the obsession with purity politics, which only alienates potential allies, has got to stop.
Now is not the time to relitigate the primary battle between Clinton and Sanders. Now is not the time to enact arbitrary litmus tests that will create even more chaos within the party. Now is the time to come together and link arms. Now is the time to take attendance and recognize who is with you and who is against you. Now is the time to rebuild our country and ensure it works for every single American.
Many Democrats, however, don't want the Independent Vermont senator to join the party. Sanders burned a lot of bridges with Democrats after he accused the DNC of "rigging" the primaries and stayed silent when his supporters launched sexist attacks against Hillary Clinton.
Anna March argues in Salon that Sanders shouldn't become a Democrat―nor should he lead the party―as long as he continues to obsess over the "white working class" at the expense of marginalized groups who actually make up the Democratic base.
Still, many Democrats have welcomed Sanders' apparent takeover of the party with open arms. One-third of Democratic senators have signed onto Sanders' Medicare-for-all plan, an idea that was previously thought of as a non-starter. Even though the plan has virtually zero chance of passing in a GOP-controlled Senate, it still sends a clear message to Americans that progressive policies are no longer far-fetched.
But even Democratic leadership―albeit apprehensively―has embraced Sanders' ability to mobilize activists and encouraged him to harness that energy to benefit the party.
“They basically explained to Bernie, it looks like you could be the person that could calm down and make sure their energy and all this enthusiasm is directed in all the right proper channels,” [Senator Jo Manchin] said. “Bernie has a voice, and if [protesters] want to be active, then direct them to where the problem may be or where they anticipate a problem.”