As we are in the final days of Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, with Secretary Hillary Clinton the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party, there is a lot of talk about what the future relationship will be between the candidates, the party, and the Sanders supporters.
I am a supporter of Sanders and posted several weeks ago on some of the things that I wanted going forward.
I realize that Senator Sanders has already had a large impact on Secretary Clinton and the Democratic party. There are multiple issues, such as income inequality, campaign finance reform, and climate action, that would not have gained prominence were it not for Bernie’s leadership and strong, consistent voice. The Democrats would be wise to heed the counsel of the Sanders supporters on the platform committee and commit to and campaign on progressive ideals. With luck, this will result in a Congress that will enact reforms and set the country back on a path where the common good is the guiding principle.
I have heard some commentators proffer that the proof of the pudding will be if Sanders can deliver his supporters to the Democratic party, but I don’t think that that is a good measure. Yes, he needs to help convince his supporters to vote for Clinton and her running mate to avoid the catastrophic prospect of a President Trump – and to elect the most progressive Congress members possible so that new laws and budgets put the common good first – but those voters do not need to be registered as Democrats to do so.
Part of Bernie’s strength and consistency of message and values over his long political career is due to the fact that he has been an Independent. While he caucused with the Democrats, he did not have to contend directly with the party apparatus, until this run for the presidency. Because so many Americans agree with his ideas, his campaign exceeded all expectations, both in winning votes, delegates, and caucuses and generating excitement, volunteers, and individual, small-dollar donors.
I don’t think, though, that these voters necessarily need to become Democrats to continue to support Sanders’ ideas. I plan to remain an Independent, although I devoutly wish that my state will change to an open primary system so that Independents can vote for the candidate of their choice regardless of party.
My hope is that, while Sanders won’t be president, his ideals will be incorporated in the next administration, with Sanders taking a prominent role in leadership in the Senate.
I’ll still be “feeling the Bern!”