After running for president as a Democrat, socialist septuagenarian Bernie Sanders is choosing to remain in Congress as an Independent and finish out his term as Senator without assuming a leadership role in the Democratic Party.
“I was elected as an Independent and I will finish this term as an Independent,” Sanders stated Thursday morning during a breakfast event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “The real action to transform America won’t take place on Capitol Hill, it will be in the grassroots America among millions struggling economically and young people.”
Embracing his newly-minted populist stardom, Sanders can potentially leverage his political capital to move the party of Clinton further left.
Sanders’ rise to fame came at the expense of his primary rival, Hillary Clinton. Compared to Sanders, Clinton looked like an establishment crony in the pocket of Goldman Sachs.
Sanders drew massive crowds at his rallies and riled up the base, creating an excitement around his candidacy the eventual nominee was never able to match. Appealing to low-information young voters and rural, anti-trade blue collar workers, the senator from Vermont was a thorn on the side of the Democratic Party, which had de facto anointed Clinton as its nominee before the primary season even began.
In fact, DNC emails leaked by WikiLeaks showed that Democratic Party operatives attempted to torpedo Sanders’ campaign with unsavory antics reserved for only the most extreme political enemies.
In one email, party operatives consider using Sanders’ faith (or lack thereof) against him.
“It might may [sic] no difference, but for KY and WA can we get someone to ask his belief,” Brad Marshall, Chief Financial Officer of the DNC, wrote in an email dated May 5, 2016. “Does he believe in God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My southern baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”
Amy Dacey, the CEO of the DNC, responded to Marshall’s email with a gleeful “AMEN.”
According to the Heavy.com, “The emails [also] show the DNC working against Bernie Sanders during the primary, with some startling tidbits such as how the DNC considered denying a Bernie delegate admittance to a fundraiser because she supported Bernie.”
“Instead of treating Sanders with impartiality, the DNC exhibits resentful disdain toward him and the thousands of disenfranchised voters he could have brought into the party,” adds The Observer’s Michael Sainato, highlighting the fact that high-ranking party officials appear to have rigged the nomination process to favor Clinton.
The leaked emails, exposing incredible bias and foul play against a non-Clinton Democratic primary rival, ultimately led to DNC Chair’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation.
In a series of emails released shortly before election day, Clinton’s own campaign is shown ridiculing Sanders and his populist movement. Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta even calls Sanders a “doofus,” before mocking the absurdity of his democratic-socialist policy prescriptions.
All in all, the Democratic Party, from the top-down, has left a sour taste in Sanders’ mouth.
The party’s left-wing faction hoped for a Democratic Party that included Bernie Sanders. Some even openly called for Sanders to replace embattled DNC interim chair, Donna Brazille, a longtime party insider accused of using her influence as a former employee of CNN to funnel questions to Hillary Clinton before debates.
But Bernie is bitter, and rightfully so. Given the sheer level of corruption and back-door dealings, the rift between Sanders and establishment Democrats is unlikely to heal anytime soon.