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A few days ago, I saw on this website that Senator Bernie Sanders is thinking of making an independent bid for President in 2016.  He's concerned that the Democratic Party is too far to the right, and wants to play a role in dragging the nominee (Hillary Clinton, of course) a bit more to the left.  He also says that he will not play the role of Ralph Nader in 2016; if the race is close, and it looks like his presence is going to give Republicans the win, he'll drop out.

At first, I thought this was a great idea.  Get the Democratic Party to be a bit more progressive with a no-risk option.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Sanders has come up with a silly plan that could lead to a Republican victory even if he did take the option to drop out.

If there were to be major warning signs that Sanders was going to cost Democrats the election, I'd imagine that they'd emerge in the late summer or early fall, when most people start paying close attention.  At that late stage in the game, after running a campaign for at least several months, if not a year, does he really believe the infrastructure he'd built up and ideas he put out there wouldn't carry on a bit after he dropped out?

By that time, he will have filed to be on the ballot in all the states he could, which would give him thousands of votes that almost certainly would have gone to Clinton otherwise if he'd stayed out of the fray altogether.  Would the volunteers and campaign staff he'd built up just stop fighting and being passionate because Sanders dropped out?  I doubt it.  The narrative for them would be that Sanders was pushed out by a neoliberal Democratic Party just as he was gaining traction.  That organization will find an alternative to Clinton, and it will take out a chunk of her votes in swing states.

I like Bernie Sanders, but he's playing with fire here.  If he's going to run, he should do so in the Democratic Primary.  An independent candidacy creates way too much risk.  If you disagree, think about what would happen if Ted Cruz ran as an independent.  People would instantly declare Democratic victory, and rightly so.

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Comment Preferences

  •  He's said he'll consider a run as a Democrat as (12+ / 0-)

    well. Which I think would be the prudent thing to do. He'd have a decent chance of winning the nomination too.

    No War but Class War

    by AoT on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 12:41:30 PM PDT

    •  I agree with your first two sentences. (11+ / 0-)

      I don't think he has any chance of winning, but that is not necessarily a reason not to run in the primaries.   Losing candidates sometimes accomplish things also.  

      I'm not opposed to him running in the primaries.  

      Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

      by TomP on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 12:47:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have a feeling that once Clinton (7+ / 0-)

        starts actually taking a stand on issues she is going to take a big hit in the polls.

        For him to win two things need to happen.

        1) Progressives need to build up a ground game and figure out how to beat the dem machine.

        2) People inside the dem machine need to be turned. If Obama is going to put the might of OfA behind Clinton then the likelihood of her losing is pretty damn low. Of course, that will just lead to more disenchantment with the dems.

        No War but Class War

        by AoT on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 01:03:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It appears to me that promises were made (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TracieLynn, AoT

          by the Obama administration to stay out of Hillary's way.  

          I really despise the done deal aspect of this and the fact that the common people are not allowed to know what positions she is taking on the issues at all the plutocrat dinners she's attending.  

          If Bernie is on my ballot, he gets my vote.  I actually know where he stands on Social Security and Medicare.  

          •  Despising the deal, despite her very loyal (0+ / 0-)

            service and defense of Obama, and her husbands?

            It seems obvious and not the least bit creepy to me. I don't know who I'll support in the primaries but taking offense to a fairly obvious I'll scratch back arrangement seems not very politically aware or astute.

            Really I wish people would take offense, or inspiration from what really matters: policy positions and political strategy and tactics. In '08, I disliked a lot of Hillary's tactics and strategy. We'll see with 2012. Kos really seems to hate Cuomo who may be the only real alternative. I hope Sanders runs, just to get all the issues he champions more oomph in the party. He might get some of the platform altered, and that's good.

          •  If OfA stays out of the fray then (0+ / 0-)

            Bernie wins. It's active support that would sink him.

            No War but Class War

            by AoT on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 06:23:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Absolutely. Sanders running as a Dem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PeterHug

      especially if there was an outright Dem majority as well, could give is 4 years of no-holds-barred liberal work done. Maybe Sanders gets the work done that Obama couldn't, and them another younger candidate comes behind and wraps up the GOP as it is today for good.

      While you dream of Utopia, we're here on Earth, getting things done.

      by GoGoGoEverton on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 03:34:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's only 2014. Chill out. nt (10+ / 0-)

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 12:42:45 PM PDT

  •  He said in that story that he will not be the (9+ / 0-)

    cause of a right winger getting elected;  that he would presumably drop out.

    the woman who is easily irritated

    by chicago minx on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 12:45:34 PM PDT

  •  I'm with you (3+ / 0-)

    I've never seen an independent run that didn't sap the strength of the party closest to that independent.

    I'd add one more note of caution to Sen Sanders:  While I'd love to see more progressive leadership in office, I'd hate to force a candidate to run on that platform.  If a progressive platform is good enough to win the election, the candidate should be able to choose it as a winning strategy.  If the progressive platform would alienate some much-needed voters, the candidate should not be forced into a public run on that platform.

    While I love progressive policies, I know plenty of people who could be persuaded to vote for a moderate Democrat, but who would run the other way (right into a Republican candidate's arms if that was the only other option).  It is best to let the leading candidate decided on the winning strategy.  Once in office, they could lead the country in a more progressive direction, using the office pulpit to help persuade the public.

    Understanding is limited by perspective. Perspective is limited by experience. America is a great place to live but it limits our ability to understand.

    by CindyV on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 12:51:16 PM PDT

  •  Puhlease (6+ / 0-)

    It's 2014 and liberals are already not allowed to express any ideas. This whole "never criticize Hillary ever ever ever" is way overplayed. Let me know if anybody BUT Hillary can run, will you guys?

    You do know that Rush Limbaugh has been dictating Hillary as the Democratic nominee since 2000, right? Why has the Democratic Party done everything they could to make Hillary the only option?

    Gegen diesen Idioten muss ich verlieren! – Chess Grandmaster Aaron Nimzowitsch (Why must I lose to this idiot!)

    by xulon on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 12:56:40 PM PDT

  •  Let's crush those dangerous "ideas he put out" (7+ / 0-)

    before the public might become attached to them and expect more from Democrats than being simmered rather than scalded to death. At least the scalded frog might leap from the pot.

    The frog jumped/ into the old pond/ plop! (Basho)

    by Wolf10 on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 01:12:03 PM PDT

    •  Dangerous support of Social Security and Medicare (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rashaverak, jbsoul, diffrntdrummr, Wolf10

      Can't have any clarity on those issues.  Can't nominate a candidate who refuses to cut benefits.  Can't have anyone that radical.  Why we all know that Americans will not support a candidate who refuses to cut their benefits.  They just won't stand for that.  Oh, no, what they really, really want is a candidate who supports tax cuts for bankers and benefit cuts for them.

  •  I'm not worried about Bernie (6+ / 0-)

    He doesn't have a chance in hell, but his heart is in the right place. Ultimately, if he runs, he'll do the wild west show with Hillary, and drop out after he's made his point. Everything will be good natured, nobody will get wounded.

    I'm supporting Hillary, I'll be knocking on doors and making phonecalls for her, but I am totally unconcerned about Bernie sabotaging the 2016 election, it's not in his DNA.

    This revolution is not scheduled!

    by harrylimelives on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 01:12:12 PM PDT

  •  Here's Bernie on O'Reilly (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wolf10, rmx2630, Rashaverak, diffrntdrummr

    I love how he deals in such a no-bullshit way with right wingers.
    Frankly, can't see Hillary doing this well.
    http://dailycaller.com/...

    "Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed." -- Vaclav Havel

    by greendem on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 01:13:36 PM PDT

  •  Interesting diary (0+ / 0-)

    But what if both Sanders and Cruz run as independents?  Who wins then?

    The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

    by amyzex on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 01:26:19 PM PDT

  •  I'd like to see Bernie run as a Democrat (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    native, Rashaverak, Superpole

    Not because I'm all that worried about him giving the election to the Republicans, but because it's his best bet to do what he wants.
    In order to pull the party to the left he has to reach people who aren't political junkies like us here.
    If he runs as an independent he will get a token interview on NPR and PBS in June, and that will be it for his national exposure. He won't be invited to the general election debates. He'll have no ballot access in many states without even the feeble resources of the Greens to help.
    However, if he re-registers as a Dem and runs as an insurgent candidate expressly out to change the party, he will get lots of attention from the national media who will love the "Democrats in disarray" story. In addition, and even more importantly, he will generate enough support that he will have to be invited to the primary debates where he can preach his message to millions of Democratic voters who really know next to nothing about him. If he starts polling significant numbers, even just double digits will likely be enough, then HRC  and the Dem establishment will become concerned and will have to come up with some answers to the embarrassing questions he will ask.
    I don't think he has a real shot at winning the nomination, but if his aim is to truly influence the debate, I think he can achieve that, but only if he runs as a Democrat.
    I love his independence, and love voting for him, but VT isn't the United States. The two major parties hold the election process in a stranglehold. Running as an independent, unless you are as rich as Ross Perot, is a waste of time, even just to influence the debate.

  •  HERE WE GO AGAIN.... (0+ / 0-)

    WHY should I care whether HRC wins or loses?

    I voted for Obama both times; we have had a democratic president for going on eight years and as progressive looking for actual economic progress, WHERE is it?

    WHERE are the millions of good paying jobs needed, right now?

    The fact is, whomever is in the white house is nearly irrelevant.

    "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

    by Superpole on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 04:39:42 PM PDT

  •  If Bernie is alive on election day . . . (0+ / 0-)

    he gets my vote, on the ballot or not. I wrote him in in 2012 and expect to do so again in 2016.

    The nine most terrifying words in the english language . . . "I'm George Bush, we're here to liberate your country"

    by TiredOfGOPLies on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 05:22:21 PM PDT

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