Living Two Political Identities: How Bernie Sanders Exploits the Democratic Party


When Bernie Sanders ran for president in the Democratic primary in 2016, he was asked whether, given he'd never been a registered Democrat before, whether he planned to remain a Democrat following the 2016 primaries. His campaign didn't equivocate in their answer, and it was an emphatic yes. Yes, he would remain a Democrat even if he didn't win the primaries.

He didn't win the primaries.

To the surprise of exactly no one who's seen his true colors (and boy is there a lot of white in there), Bernie Sanders lied. He quickly went back on his word and changed his party affiliation back to independent after the 2016 elections, and ran last year for re-election to the Senate from Vermont as an indpendent.

Now, he says he will run as a Democrat again. His campaign said that he will sign a pledge to run as a Democrat, accept the nomination as a Democrat if he wins, and serve as president as a Democrat if he's elected. Sure enough, when he filed his FEC paperwork last month declaring his candidacy for president, Sanders wrote 'Democratic Party' under the 'Party Affiliation' line. Today, his campaign said, he signed that pledge to run, accept the nomination if offered, and serve if elected, as a Democrat!

Awesome, right? Nothing to see here, folks. Move along. Bernie is a Democrat again.

But hang on a second. Just yesterday, Bernie Sanders also filed for re-election to the US Senate from Vermont, and on that FEC filing form, he listed himself as a "independent" under the same 'Party Affiliation' line. Curiously, Sanders used two different addresses to file the two candidacies, so maybe he's a Democrat when he's at one of his homes but an independent when he's enjoying the second. Inquiring minds want to know what his party affiliation is when he's relaxing at his third home.

Aside from the clear disdain of the Democratic party Bernie Sanders has displayed both throughout his history as a politician and through his concurrent, simultaneous and contradictory FEC filings, here's a tidbid that should concern Bernie's supporters. Bernie Sanders filed for his Senate candidacy not only after he filed his presidential candidacy, but he did so after his campaign kickoff rallies this past weekend in Brooklyn and Chicago where his surrogates tried to sell him as the white savior of the black race. Might it be that the rallies did not go as well as the campaign is selling and the campaign itself isn't doing as well as the media coverage would indicate?

One can hope, but I digress.

Despite this being the second time Bernie Sanders has sought the Democratic nomination for president, it is clear that much like with Trump and the Republican party, for Sanders, the Democratic party is a mere vehicle for obtaining power. This is not a disparagement; this is not even really an opinion. Bernie Sanders and his supporters have said so, almost in so many words.

As recently as Sunday, Bernie butted in on Twitter about the internal business of the New York Democratic Party, demanding that a party he won't been seen with in a state fled 50 years ago stop debating how they - and their state - list candidates on the ballot. (To be clear, I am not taking a position on fusion voting, but I am of the mind that it's a matter for New Yorkers and Democrats, not outsiders).

In 2016, Bernie Sanders - while he was still running in the primary - openly admitted to exploiting the Democratic party for money and media. He told Chuck Todd that he only ran as a Democrat to take advantage of the media coverage and the fundraising opportunities that comes with the affiliation.

Bernie Sanders has invested time in trashing the Democratic party, Democrats, and progressives, especially progressive women. As a perpetual political candidate unaware of any other field of work, Bernie Sanders honed his skills in both-side-ism early. He declared Democrats and Republicans "Tweedledum and Tweedledee.” He told women leaders in Vermont - including Gov. Madeleine May Kunin, that women's issues were a "distraction" from "more important issues" like "class analysis." When Sanders ran against Gov. Kunin in 1986, he admonished Vermonters not to vote for the sitting governor simply because she was a woman. Bernie Sanders, comfortable as ever in his role as a white male arbiter of sexism, said then that wanting women in leadership positions is a "sexist position."

I guess some things never change.

It turns out that Bernie Sanders is not a big fan of progressive women (or people of color) running for office, especially if they are challenging his messiah complex. In 2016, Bernie Sanders' backers lodged vile attacks at Hillary Clinton based on her gender, and Bernie defended them, whether it was Bernie's Black Friend (TM) Killer Mike saying "A uterus doesn't qualify you to be president", or Trump-over-Hillary cult leader Susan Sarandon declaring she doesn't "vote with [her] vagina".

And this year, Bernie Sanders got way out in front of it. Once again comfortable in his privileged white, male role as the arbiter of all forms of bigotry, Bernie lashed out, demanding Democratic voters refrain from considering their candidates' gender, race, or sexual orientations. Bernie Sanders will go to any length to ignore that racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia make the American playing field uneven, and therefore those who rise to the top of their fields despite it deserve additional credit.

The truth is that Bernie Sanders has never believed in the principles or the people that are the backbone of the Democratic party. Bernie Sanders has never bought that issues of racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia and other forms of social bigotry exist separate and apart from class struggle. He has certainly never recognized that the Democratic party, imperfect as it may be, has been the sole vehicle of legislative progress on these social justice issues for over 50 years.

This is because for Bernard Sanders, the Democratic party has never been anything more than an instrument of exploitation for his own personal and political gain.