I was in Vermont this weekend and busted my knee. So I’m a bit down on Vermont. But TPM Reader SS wanted to share his thoughts on Sanders. So I’m giving Vermont a break.
Vermonter here who has voted repeatedly for Bernie for statewide office but who will vote for Hillary on March 1.
You gave Reader MJ’s remark the headline “Feeling the Semi-Bern.” MJ asks for your thoughts on it all, which you haven’t yet provided. But let me remind you and everyone else out there: Sanders is not a member of the Democratic Party. Never has been and probably never will be.
Here in Vermont, there is a marriage of convenience between the Progressive Party and the Democratic Party, where (in statewide races, at least) there is usually only one candidate from either party to run for office. Up in Burlington, the parties often run against each other, but it rarely happens for statewide positions. Usually the Democratic Party candidate goes forward, but very often the Progressive candidate is the one who’s allowed to run. And sometimes they both run. Anthony Pollina is a great example of how these issues have played out over the last twenty years or so.
Bernie Sanders came into Congress in 1991 as an independent who identified with Vermont’s Progressive Party. He founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He’s caucused with the Democrats, but he has never joined the Democratic Party. In many ways, he is to the Democratic Party what Donald Trump is to the GOP: an outsider to the party who was welcomed in but who has been willing to wreck the party to achieve his own goals. Hence, all the vague talk from Sanders about a political revolution and no talk that I’ve heard or seen about how to build the Democratic Party in all fifty states.
Think about it: Sanders has shown little interest in building the fortunes of the Democratic Party. I mean that literally. I heard on the Chris Hayes show the other day that Clinton has raised millions for the DNC, while Sanders has raised $1,000. Sanders would argue that it’s important to get money out of the electoral process, but you can’t tell me that Sanders isn’t spending millions on himself. And I really don’t care if that money from small donors or not. Yes, Bernie is creating a movement, and that’s great. But at the end of the day, we’re likely to continue to have two political parties that will control much of the dialogue for years to come. I get the sense that many Progressives don’t give a second thought to what might be best for the Democratic Party overall, conveniently forgetting that representative and senators and governors come from parties many more times than not. There’s little to no thought among progressives about the depth of the bench of other elected officials. And that lack of strategic thought is one reason why I’ll vote for Clinton, because the Democratic Party will continue to be important, revolution or no revolution, and the Democratic Party will need to go toe-to-toe with the GOP, which means that the Democratic Party has to be strong. And unlike Bernie, Hillary is proud to call herself a member of the Democratic Party.
I’m very, very grateful that Bernie has moved the Democratic Party to the left. But I’m definitely not feeling the Bern up here in snowy Vermont.