Bernie Sanders Reportedly to Seek Democratic Nomination Again

Bernie Sanders

A recurrence of Feel the Bern?

Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent Democratic socialist, seeks 2020 Democratic Nomination for President. Reportedly.

HuffPost/Yahoo News:

Two sources with direct knowledge of his plans told Yahoo News that Sanders, an independent and self-described “democratic socialist,” plans to announce his presidential bid imminently. While Sanders has been mulling a bid for months, one of the sources said he was emboldened by early polls of the race that have consistently showed him as one of the top candidates in a crowded Democratic primary field.

In particular, the source said Sanders was heartened to see numbers indicating he is one of the leading candidates among African American and Latino voters, two groups he was perceived as struggling with in 2016.

The source also alluded to a spate of recent polls that show Sanders as the most popular politician in the country. They attributed Sanders’ strength in the polls to the base and name recognition he built with the prior presidential bid.
“What the senator has this time that he didn’t have last time is he is the most popular elected official in the country right now,” the source said. “That’s light years away from 2016 when very few people knew who he was.”

A third source said Sanders’ bid will begin with an exploratory committee. Sanders’ campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.

In addition to these two sources, a former Sanders staffer who was not been briefed on the imminent announcement plans nevertheless said they were aware of many recent signs he is set to pull the trigger on a presidential campaign. Specifically, the former staffer said

Sanders has been building out the infrastructure he would need for a White House bid.

“He’s already talking to staff and there are people he’s hiring. They’re nailing down contracts with vendors, … all the movement is there for him to run,” the ex-staffer said.

Sen. Sanders, whose official social media still touts “U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is the longest-serving independent in congressional history,” has some unfinished 2016 business with some in the Democratic Party if he does indeed run:

But Sanders’ impact on the Democratic Party went beyond his political vision. The primary battle between Sanders and Clinton was contentious, with Sanders allies claiming Clinton’s campaign worked in conjunction with the Democratic Party establishment to prevent a Sanders victory. These battles cemented divisions in this party that linger on as the 2020 election approaches.

Following President Trump’s victory over Clinton in 2016, Sanders and his allies pressed for reforms to the Democratic National Committee that would make the party’s primary process more open and inclusive to what Sanders termed “the working people and young people of our country.”

Amid Sanders’ reform push, the DNC assembled a “unity commission” to recommend changes that included members chosen by both Sanders and Clinton. Ultimately, the DNC made rules changes that included one of the main items on Sanders’ agenda, curbing the role of unelected superdelegates in choosing the party’s presidential nominee. At the same time, the DNC also adopted a rules change that would make it more difficult for independents like Sanders to seek the party’s presidential nomination.

In spite of this, Sanders’ allies felt he was unaffected by this new rule because the Vermont Democratic Party passed a resolution last year recognizing him as a full member. A source who discussed Sanders’ 2020 plans with Yahoo News confirmed he will be running as a Democrat.

More importantly, though, might be the reopening of old wounds from the Democratic Party’s failure to defeat Donald Trump behind nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016. More than a few HRC supporters blame Sanders, and the rift between the party establishment and the progressive wing has been endlessly debated ever since. A quick look at social media and opinion writing will bring every opinion on Sanders from “He’s not even a Democrat!” to “He’s a messaging genius” to “We don’t need to nominate another old white dude.” The role of Bernie as symbol of the progressive wing of the Democratic party was thrown into sharp relief during the fall, when Sanders campaigned with one of his former 2016 field organizer around the country who has become a symbol herself, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the self-described Democratic socialist who was an organizer for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign, isn’t endorsing her fellow socialist.

“She’ll see what the field looks like,” Corbin Trent, Ocasio-Cortez’s communications director, told Politico. “She’s focused on 2018, [Bernie’s] focused on 2018. We’re all focused on 2018.”

Sanders did not endorse Ocasio-Cortez in her stunning primary defeat in June of longtime Queens political boss Rep. Joe Crowley.
But since then, the two have joined forces to campaign for progressive candidates around the country.

Bernie Sanders may not get her endorsement, but his staffing efforts are including AOC’s media production team that helped propel the now-Representative of NY-14 to victory, and national attention. The 2016 Sanders campaign was run relatively lean on staffers and infrastructure, and social media and outreach will no doubt be vital to anything he hopes to accomplish in 2020. But the largest problem for Sanders might well be the absence of Hillary Rodham Clinton. There isn’t a firm metric on the number, but it’s a fair question to ask just how much of Bernie’s 2016 support came as the default alternative to the pre-selected nominee. Additionally, Sander’s more vocal supporters spend an inordinate amount of time attacking the party and party figures that they feel don’t rise to the standards of their favorite socialist. For a party desperately seeking a unity candidate to topple the Donald Trump presidency, many are asking if another cycle of party establishment vs Sanders supporters would be a fatal distraction to a Democratic Party nominee.

The New Republic:

He was an undecorated independent senator from an extremely liberal state who only identified as a Democrat to run for president, and moreover described himself as a democratic socialist. Yet he forced the prematurely anointed Clinton, around whom the entire party establishment had coalesced years prior, to campaign like hell until the very end.

Nonetheless, for weeks now, outlets have been doubting the viability of a second Sanders bid for president. “Instead of expanding his nucleus of support, the fashion of most repeat candidates,” Jonathan Martin and Sydney Ember wrote in The New York Times, “the Vermont senator is struggling to retain even what he garnered two years ago, when he was far less of a political star than he is today.” By way of evidence, the article noted that some of Sanders’ supporters in Congress “won’t commit to backing him if he runs for president again—and two may join the 2020 race themselves. A handful of former aides might work for other candidates. And Bernie Sanders’s initial standing in Iowa polls is well below the 49.6 percent he captured in nearly defeating Hillary Clinton there in 2016.”
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New York magazine’s Ed Kilgore gave several reasons Sanders “has lost his 2016 mojo,” including: his support was inflated by a thin field and resistance to a Clinton coronation; his policy positions have been co-opted by other Democrats who aspire to the presidency; he’s old; he’s a white man. “If Bernie Sanders has to fight to hold onto the mantle of progressive leadership, his time has surely past,” Kilgore wrote.

And on Monday, The Boston Globe noted Sanders’s declining support and waffling from many of his 2016 backers. “I’m torn … because I was in the midst of the campaign with Bernie, but I think the people who look at that campaign need to understand the context is different,” Jonathan Tsini, author of The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America told the Globe. Other 2016 backers have begged Sanders to back off, for reasons ranging from his age to the need for new blood to his importance in leading a democratic socialist movement.

Bernie Sanders’s biggest success came in being the alternative in a binary choice in 2016. His most popular, at least to his supporters, ideas are more widely accepted if not fully endorsed by other candidates. And he is no longer the only Democratic Socialist on the American political scene. In other words, with a very crowded field in 2020 Bernie Sanders has the same problem all the other aspiring candidates have: where does he fit in?

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Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire.

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11 thoughts on “Bernie Sanders Reportedly to Seek Democratic Nomination Again

  1. The risk with Bernie winning the nom is to give some actual credibility for someone like Nanny Bloomberg or Mr. Starbucks to make an independent bid, and siphon off just enough votes so Trump wins with 40% of the vote.

    But he does have a path to the nomination if the rest of the field remains too fractured between Harris and the rest of 3 to 4 top tier candidates (and especially if the also rans still get more than 5% altogether)

    (40% number h/t/ Yglesias)

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  2. “many are asking if another cycle of party establishment vs Sanders supporters would be a fatal distraction to a Democratic Party nominee.”


    i know a sure-fire cure for that

    it’s called “don’t screw him over this time”

    although that’ll be tough when there’s another America’s First Female President(tm) working for the nom

    progressives gonna progress

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    • My assumption is that most of the screwing that Bernie got was related to that he was the sole “Not Clinton” left vote out there and The Establishment players *KNEW* that Clinton would win the primary and so Bernie was nothing but a distraction.

      That said, the Not Clinton left voters wanted to be heard and, since the Dean vs. Kerry days, the whole “should we be more principled or more pragmatic” fight has taken place in some weird place where Triangulation ruled. We want someone principled, but not too principled, we need a pragmatically principled person to run…

      Luckily, Obama was as pragmatic as you were going to get but voting for him *FELT* principled in a way that voting for Clinton just… well, it just didn’t.

      If The Establishment ignores the whole “principled” thing again in service to pragmatism, BernieBros will feel screwed.

      Look to see how they’re handling Harris. That’s probably going to be where we’ll see the first cracks. How will they treat the Prosecutor thing?

      If the counter-argument is “you hippies need to understand that law and order plays really well with the rubes”, expect BernieBros to get all petulant and for contradictions to be heightened in response.

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  3. Obama was only pragmatic in retrospect. He certainly ran on a liberal platform, not to mention the idea of being America’s First Black President ™.

    “most of the screwing that Bernie got was related to that he was the sole “Not Clinton” left vote out there and The Establishment players *KNEW* that Clinton would win the primary and so Bernie was nothing but a distraction.”

    Much of Clinton’s campaign was focused on the idea that a win was guaranteed, but she wanted it to be unquestioned, because anything other than an overwhelming near-unanimous Mandate Of The Voters would be seen as weakness. She wanted to be able to point to historically-high percentages of historically-high turnouts and say “see? People want me to be here, they like my ideas, now shut up and approve my budget package.”

    In that context it’s understandable why Sanders was such a problem, because not only did he refuse to go away, he was actually damaging the story about how America’s First Female President ™ was a Historical Imperative that the People were Clamoring For.

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    • Obama was only pragmatic in retrospect.

      True but that’s why I opened with “luckily”.

      He certainly ran on a liberal platform

      Oh, indeed he did! This makes his pragmatism so much more pragmatic. What’s fascinating is that he still *FEELS* progressive to have voted for. (I think that this is aesthetics as much as anything.)

      If the establishment could find someone who is as pragmatic as Obama but feels as progressive as Obama to vote for, they’d glom onto this person in a damn heartbeat. I think that Kamala Harris is probably them trying to capture lightning in a bottle… dunno if it will work, though.

      The pragmatists, for example, are already talking about how pragmatic she is.

      Good point about Bernie in that last part.

      I think that that particular dynamic might already be in play this election. The need for everybody to have a united front is something that everybody agrees upon.

      It’s the “therefore, you need to support my preferred candidate” that gets all of the trouble. (And Bernie is a handy person to point to if you want to explain what might happen if you don’t shut up and get in line and agree with me.)

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  4. Meh, in this field Bernie’s “we need a political revolution” answer to every question is going to sink like an anvil in a pool. It’s hard to believe he’ll have much of a shot in a crowded field.

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  5. Hillary hasn’t ruled out another run, either. In such a huge field, it’s likely she would walk away with the early primaries, at least if more women don’t let their husbands tell them how to vote, which is one of her explanations for 2016. However large the “Not her again!” share of the vote turns out to be, it’s going to be split twenty different ways.

    And she must know that if she runs, and has a shot at winning the primaries (in some minds making her an almost certainty to beat Trump in a re-match), money will again flow into the Clinton Family Foundation and her various other quasi charities. Even if she loses the general election, she’ll still have a much bigger pile of money when it’s over, and a bigger pile is better than a not-bigger pile. “Which pile is bigger?” is, I would suggest, a useful way to predict what she’ll do.

    Elizabeth Warren, however, might challenge Hillary more directly about the charity activities than Bernie did, even though all three live in mansions. Hillary could counter-attack on Warren’s plan to tax the assets of anyone worth more than $50 million, which is unconstitutional (directly taxing income required a Constitutional amendment). It’s basically a 2 to 3% “protection” fee, with the percentage being directly subtracted not from the returns on an asset or investment, but upon the principle. So if you held bonds with a return of 1.5%, they would actually be losing 0.5 to 1.5% per year because they’re an asset getting taxed at a higher rate than they even return, making them absolutely worthless as an investment. As an aside, the halving-time of a 3% annual loss is 23 years. Hillary is all about building a financial empire, not losing one, so I’m sure she’d counter-attack quite directly.

    I don’t think Kamala Harris has much of a shot (read her wiki page for her history as a prosecutor), but she has been playing up her ethnicity by announcing her candidacy on MLK day, even though both her parents came to the US in the 1960’s, one a cancer researcher and the other an economics grad student accepted to Berkeley. I think they might have skipped the struggle part of the struggle that still resonates at the heart of US identity politics.

    But unless someone with more direct claims to MLK’s (and Obama’s!) mantle jumps in (aka Corey Booker), she might be able to carve that block out for herself, perhaps pointing out that Bernie’s rallies were all whiter than Pat Boone eating a mayonnaise sandwich on Wonder bread in a Minnesota snowstorm.

    I think Jay Inslee is undone by his decision to spend $1.1 billion dollars of state funds to save 74 killer whales in Puget Sound. That’s almost $15 million a whale. Now everybody loves whales, but the Japanese would only spend about $90,000 on a whale that size – to eat it. And the whales are starving because we cut back on killing sea lions, whose numbers have increased by a factor of ten, and which are now busily eating all the salmon so there’s not enough left for the whales. In any event, 74 orcas need about 10 million pounds of meat a year, so Inslee’s $1.1 billion is enough to buy them 30 years worth of packaged cod fillets. Or perhaps they should feed them sea lions chops until nature’s balance is restored.

    His decision makes it easy to portray Inslee as someone who might, some fine morning, decide to do something entirely crazy with all your money. Who knows? Perhaps he’d wake up and give the entire Social Security trust fund to a starving Indian swami so he’d bless the planet. If 5% of his state’s tax revenue is spent on 74 whales, how much might they spend on their bears? And what about owls? And that’s aside from stopping global warming. His heart is in the right place, but his hand is in everybody’s wallets, pulling out $150 each to make himself feel better. Not a good steward, and other candidates are going to have to point that out. There are cheaper ways to help the whales, and more important things to spend on, like Seattle’s massive homeless problem. In ads, the whale spending might be his Dukakis helmet.

    So far, I think Biden is looking pretty good just by not being them.

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    • Two Bernie points:

      1) That footage was reportedly released by a Beto 2020 backer.

      2) Not everyone needs to be wearing a shirt all the time. In fact, most people only have a shirt on for two-thirds of the day. So in a country like the Soviet Union, or in America, it doesn’t make sense to have more than 200 million shirts for 300 million people. Now, based on that video, maybe the number of available shirts should be tweaked a little bit because, as it turns out, most of the shirts happen to be worn when the sun is up. But the Soviet Union had something like 11 time zones, so you still wouldn’t need to have a shirt for each and every person, just an efficient system to getting shirts from the timezone experiencing sunset over to the timezone experiencing sunrise. Once any distribution kinks are worked out, you’d have a highly efficient system, but with the side effect of nobody having a shirt at night, which is pretty much what the video shows.

      Old Soviet Socialist Republic joke: A man sees his neighbor Igor struggling through deep mud with only one boot on. He shouts “Igor, you’ve lost a boot!” Igor replies “To the contrary, comrade. I have found one!”

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