In a year the United States we will be in the midst of the 2016 primary season. On the Democratic side it appears Hillary Clinton has a lock on the nomination. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren announced she will not run, and while Vice-President Joe Biden has not ruled out a run, most people feel Clinton's formidable campaign machine is too well constructed to be seriously challenged. That has not deterred Senator Bernie Sanders from considering a run for the White House.
Bernie, as he is known, is the Independent Senator from Vermont who identifies as a democratic socialist, that's small d, contemplating running in the Democratic, large D, presidential primary. There lies his conundrum. While he caucuses with the Democrats in Congress he does not believe in what the Democratic Party stands for. Then why is he thinking of running in their primaries? Because if he were to run as a democratic socialist his campaign would get no coverage from much of the media.
That is, the only way for him to challenge the system & the structure is to play by their rules, in this case join the Democratic Party so he can run in their primaries. That price, the equivalent of eating ideological political treif, is not easy for Bernie. That choice also does not sit well with his supporters including their fear he might become a spoiler like Ralph Nader who cost Al Gore the election in 2000.
Does he have another option? Yes, run in the Republican primaries instead. To avoid being a spoiler he needs to run in a major party. While logic dictates he run as a Democrat, a choice to run in the Republican primaries, while appearing counter intuitive at first, has a number of benefits. First it takes Bernie out of the role of being a potential spoiler as a third party candidate. Second, it avoids Bernie attacking Hillary, which could possibly weaken her as the Democratic nominee in addition to causing consternation within the Democratic Party, not to mention Hillary's financial supporters. Finally it allows Bernie to take his message where it really needs to be heard. As Bernie has said, "If I run, we'll be taking on the billionaire class, that's Wall Street, the drug companies, the military industrial complex."
Bernie's critique of the system & the structure says both Democrats and Republicans are part of the problem, but in his eyes the Republicans are guiltier. Bernie would run to take on a the system & the structure that in recent decades has consolidated more and more power, money, and influence to a smaller segment of American society. Since Teddy Roosevelt there have been nineteen Presidents, ten have gone to Ivy League colleges including the last four. If Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush were to be elected President they would represent the second and third respective family members to become President since 1989. Bernie recently said, "We are moving rapidly away from our democratic heritage into an oligarchic form of society."
Bernie has been talking for years about the need to alter the direction he sees the United States heading. In his early years he was a gadfly in Vermont politics until he was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1981; his progressive successes there led to him to be elected Vermont's sole member in the House of Representatives in 1988, and then the Senate in 2006. While he has no illusions about being elected President of the United States should he run, he sees such a campaign as a means to make sure the right questions are asked, and the issues that are usually not discussed become part of the national debate. There is logic to have that discussion in the party of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.
A similar piece appeared in the Rutland Herald on March 8, 2015
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