A reasonable request, or a sign of a brewing civil war? Bernie Sanders runs for re-election to the Senate in Vermont next year, presumably as an independent despite his attempt last year to win the Democratic Party’s nomination. A resolution introduced at the DNC calls for Sanders to identify explicitly as a Democrat, especially since he and his supporters have demanded input on strategic policies for the party.
This may be more than just a plea for party unity, as the resolution frames it:
A new resolution before the Democratic National Committee (DNC) this week picks at old wounds from the party’s bruising 2016 presidential primary.
The inclusion of King in this resolution offers a semblance of fairness and reasonableness. Both men caucus with Democrats, and gain some value from the party for their incumbencies. It’s not at all unreasonable for a political party that works on their behalf to expect politicians to openly affiliate with the party.
However, it’s also just as curious to make this demand when Democrats get at least as much benefit out of this relationship as the candidates. Sanders is too far left to caucus with Republicans, but King is somewhat more moderate and might be welcomed by the GOP, if just for leadership votes. King’s independent status in Maine allows Democrats to eat their partisan cake and have it too with a member of their caucus who provides a patina of independence, and implicitly paints the GOP as the more extreme caucus with his choice.
King isn’t the target, or the point. The author of this resolution is Bob Mulholland, a Hillary Clinton supporter, part of a contingent that finds itself curiously ascendant within the DNC at the moment. Sanders’ supporters, and deputy chair Keith Ellison’s too, are getting purged out of offices and the DNC in favor of the Clintonistas under Tom Perez’ leadership for some reason. With that context, Mulholland’s resolution looks more like a loyalty demand to current DNC leadership than a request for equity:
Mulholland went on to suggest that he believes that, since Sanders has sought to have a large say in the direction of the Democratic Party, he should fully commit to the party.
“Sanders runs around the country screaming at people to adopt his policies. The least the DNC can do is urge him to run as a Democrat in 2018 in the era of Donald Trump,” he added.
That doesn’t exactly sound like someone who’s pining for Sanders’ approbation, does it?
Sanders might ask a better question: What has the DNC done for me? Under the leadership of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC took every opportunity to hobble his attempt to challenge Hillary for the nomination, including some underhanded dealings later revealed in hacked e-mails. In the end, they were fortunate Sanders decided to stay put rather than take the Green Party’s invitation to join their ticket; the resulting loss for Hillary would have been even more demoralizing.
Mulholland and the DNC Clintonistas had better be cautious about issuing ultimata. Now with the purge at the DNC apparently in full swing, Sanders might have second thoughts about the Green Party, which has always been a closer political fit for him than the Democrats. He can still caucus with Senate Democrats if he gets re-elected, but his supporters will flood into the Greens and carry him bodily onto their 2020 ticket. He won’t win, but neither will Democrats, and the Clintonistas will find themselves holding the bag for yet another disastrous political cycle.
Update: Maybe the DNC as a whole wised up:
The Democratic National Committee on Friday voted down a resolution calling for Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Angus King (I-Maine) to run as Democrats when they seek reelection in 2018.
The resolution failed to gain the simple majority support it needed in the DNC’s Resolution Committee to advance to a vote in general session at the party’s fall meeting in Las Vegas, according to The Washington Post.