by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, making his second Democratic presidential nomination bid, has spent most of his nearly three decades in Congress as an independent. And that’s not endearing him to some Democrats.
Some party activists have long memories about Sanders, recalling his criticism of President Barack Obama for not pursuing policies further to the left, as advocated by Sanders, a socialist first elected to the Senate in 2006 after 16 years in the House. Sanders was an independent throughout those years, and he only became a Democrat to pursue the party’s nomination in 2016, which he lost to Hillary Clinton.
Democratic skeptics of Sanders cite a July 2011 radio interview with liberal host Thom Hartmann. During that appearance, Sanders blasted Obama over a deal with House Republicans on the debt ceiling. Sanders then suggested another Democrat should primary the president in his upcoming reelection fight. …
… While the dynamics of the 2020 race differ greatly from 2016, Sanders is in some ways more vulnerable to attacks that he isn’t a loyal Democrat.
It was only in March of last year that Sanders officially signed a pledge, imposed by the Democratic National Committee, to become a member of the Democratic Party if he decided to run again. In his filings to run for reelection in the Senate in 2024, he’s still registered as an independent.
In the 2020 race, Sanders is trying to take down Democratic front-runner Joe Biden, Obama’s vice president. Sanders has hardly been playing the Democratic insider game, which requires requisite praise for Obama.