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"I'm not a Democrat. I'm an Independent, but I caucus with the Democrats," Bernie Sanders, the infamous Vermont Senator, and Presidential candidate has said on multiple occasions.
Yet, when the time came to run for President, he abandoned his Independent identity and ran as a Democrat—something that he is expected to do again in 2019. Not only should he not do this, but the Democratic party should not allow him to do it.
During the Primaries in 2016, Bernie Sanders was a rising star. Yes, he has been in the Senate for longer than what should be allowed, but he stepped into the national spotlight and started a movement that continues to this day. What he also did is help splinter a party, and contribute to Hillary Clinton's loss in the General Election to Donald Trump. Many of the so-called "Berners" out there decried Clinton winning the nomination and furthermore vowed that they would never vote for her because Bernie was not handed the nomination.
What seems to be forgotten in their logic is that Bernie politically identifies as an Independent. Yes, he votes with the Democrats most of the time, but he has openly rejected their attempts to bring him into the fold. Why would the Democrats give the nomination or a Vice Presidency role to someone who has said that he isn't one of them? It would be like Tom Brady being a quarterback for the Detroit Lions. He could do it, and probably very well, but he's not a Lion, he's a New England Patriot.
This summer, he won the Democratic nomination for Senator of Vermont. Not unexpected, as the incumbent usually holds an advantage over the others running against him. After his victory, he "respectfully" declined the nomination and ran in the General Election. A pattern emerges here, of a man who is willing to use the Democrat Party funds and platform to ensure his victory, but then relinquish it when it no longer suits his purposes. It also ensures that the Democrats don't have any on the ballot that can challenge him. It's a shrewd move that is reminiscent of another outsider politician, Donald Trump.
To be certain, Bernie Sanders is much smarter and can articulate a sentence without bringing us to the brink of World War III. But there is also no denying that the man is opportunistic and plays the game of politics with panache. When he lost the nomination to Hillary, he was gracious and stepped to the side. He gave her support, but the damage that was done during the primaries could not be undone. To be clear (to borrow a phrase from President Obama), Bernie Sanders is not the ONLY reason Hillary Clinton did not win the presidency. He did, however, shine a light on some things that had long been ignored by members of the elite. Which fueled disillusionment within younger members of the party.
The question that begs to be asked is, "Why?" Why did the Democrats allow this man to run on their platform? Some will argue that because he caucuses with the Democrats that is a good enough reason. It's not. He'd be a fine President and would do a lot of good for the country. But if he is an Independent as he claims then that is the platform that he needs to run on. He started a grassroots movement that we are seeing continue to influence elections across the country to this day. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won her election, at least in part, because Bernie activated a part of the Left Wing base that had been underserved and forgotten for a long time.
If he did such a great thing, why not allow him to run as a Democrat? The answer circles right back to the fact that he is not one. By running as a Democrat, he sucks the air out of the room and uses resources that could and should be used for someone who is actually a part of the party.
To finish the Tom Brady analogy, the Patriots would not pay his salary to Quarterback for the Lions. Nor should the Democrats pay Bernie Sanders to ultimately run as an Independent.