I was chided by a few people for such an unfair question. Of course, he'd be a Democrat, they said. He changed his affiliation to Democrat when he filed to run president in the Democratic Party.
Yesterday, Bloomberg Politics hosted a breakfast at the Democratic National Convention, which Sen. Sanders attented. The Washington bureau chief for USA Today, Susan Page, was there, as well, covering the event, and she wrote that Mr. Sanders told reporters that when he returned to the Senate, it would be as an Independent, not a Democrat.
"Bernie Sanders tells @bpolitics breakfast w/reporters he'll return to the Senate as an Independent, not a Dem: 'I was elected as an Ind.'" she quotes him in a Tweet.
Well, so much for me being chided for bringing up the question two months ago...
To be clear, of course Bernie Sanders has the right to align himself with whatever party affiliation he wants. And he does caucus with the Democrats. And he made a forceful speech at the convention endorsing Hillary Clinton, called for her nomination by acclimation the next day, and has said that he will vigorously campaign for her.
And that's all well and good. But it does make his filing as a Democrat to run for the party's nomination a bit thin, bordering on disingenuous. At the very least, I hope it will make his most fiery, partisan "Bernie or Die" supporters accept that it's okay that Democrats decided to nominate as their candidate someone who was actually a Democrat, and who held Democratic Party principals, not similar but slightly different "Social Democrat" principals, with a time-dated label slapped on it. I don't remotely expect them to accept it, but I do hope.
By the way, it's worth noting that as noble as is Sen. Sanders statement about honoring his voters who elected him as an Independent, it shouldn't be overlooked that those very same voters elected him to serve for six years, and if he had won the nomination and presidency, he'd have had to go back on his word about that.
I'm not surprised that Bernie Sanders is going to return as an Independent. And I admire his convention speech, and his vow to help elect Hillary Clinton. And his call for unity. But so much of his rhetoric during the primaries got increasingly vociferous and critical of his opponent, to the point that it created a wedge between some of his supporters and the party's nominee. And it gave Republicans plenty of sound bytes to use against Secretary Clinton. And one day after calling for unity, he announced that he was leaving his new party.
I like Bernie Sanders. I like a lot of what he stands for. I like that he comes across as having a great deal of integrity. And I like that he's said he'll be a strong and active supporter of Hillary Clinton. But I don't like everything about him, and he's caused his share of discord, in a party that he's made pretty clear isn't his. So, his insistence that he'll campaign actively is not just a very good thing, but something he helped make a necessity.