Bernie betrays Democrats, announces reelection run as an independent

After pledging in 2015 to run as a Democrat in future races, Sanders now wants to run in 2018 as an independent

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 24, 2017 4:00PM (EDT)

Bernie Sanders (Getty/George Frey)
Bernie Sanders (Getty/George Frey)

There is no excuse for the Democratic National Committee's efforts to undermine Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign. This doesn't mean, however, that the DNC was wrong for distrusting Sanders' sincerity when he claimed to be a Democrat.

The fact that Sanders has just announced he will run for reelection in 2018 as an independent underscores that point.

"I am an independent and I have always run in Vermont as an independent, while I caucus with the Democrats in the United States Senate. That’s what I’ve been doing for a long time and that’s what I’ll continue to do," Sanders told a Fox News reporter on Sunday, during a trip to New Hampshire.

By contrast, Sanders confirmed to a reporter in November 2015 that he would run as a Democrat in future elections, after the subject was broached.

"In future elections, potential future elections, will you also run as a Democrat?" the reporter asked Sanders as he campaigned in New Hampshire.

"Yes," Sanders replied.

Bear in mind: One of the controversial DNC emails that was published by Wikileaks showed former chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz complaining that Sanders "has never been a member of the Democratic Party and has no understanding of what we do."

I wish to repeat: There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that justifies the DNC giving any candidate an advantage over another one. There is, on the other hand, ample justification for members of the Democratic Party establishment to regard Sanders with contempt for not being one of their own while trying to lead their party.

The reality is that Sanders had not been a registered Democrat until he decided to run for president. Although he had caucused with the party as a member of the United States Senate, he had long prided himself on being an independent.

That is not only well and good but necessary. As I've written before, America needs to create viable alternatives to the two major parties. The problem is, when Sanders claimed that he had switched to being a Democrat before seeking the party's presidential nomination, people became concerned that he was only doing so to improve his chances of winning the presidency. While only Sanders knows for sure if that's the case, it seems much more likely now that he has revealed through his subsequent actions that his assurances of sticking to the Democratic Party were ultimately not true.

There are millions of Americans who, unlike Sanders, actually do identify as Democrats. They do not consider the label to be a badge of shame but a genuine reflection of their political values. When Sanders enters and leaves the Democratic Party at his own convenience, it implicitly insults all of those Democratic voters — and raises questions about what other expediencies Sanders would be willing to resort to in order to achieve his political goals.

Just because the DNC was wrong for rigging the primaries against Sanders doesn't mean Sanders is right today for not acting in good faith toward the Democratic Party.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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