Bernie to Democrats: You’ll Never Win Without Independents

Bernie Sanders’ calls to reform the Democratic Party have been echoed by his progressive supporters since his presidential campaign, though the Democratic Party establishment has repeatedly ignored those calls. That hasn’t stopped Bernie Sanders from continuing to perpetuate this message that Democrats stubbornly ignore despite the increasing calls from progressives and Democratic party voters for meaningful reforms to the party.

“Where the Democratic Party is today, programmatically, in terms of how it does business, has failed,” Sanders said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on March 29. “I mean the evidence is obvious. It’s not just that we’ve lost the White House and the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House. We’ve lost 900 legislative seats in the last 8 or 9 years.”

He added, “so clearly the Democratic Party needs a top-down overhaul. And that top-down overhaul means that instead of becoming dependent and being dependent on big money interests for campaign contributions, it has got to become a grassroots party. It has got to start speaking and acting and fighting for working people, for young people, for people who want to transform this country.”

Sanders cited the grassroots resistance to Trump has produced some successes so far into Trump’s presidency and that the new DNC Chair Tom Perez needs to capitalize on that movement. But Perez was hand selected by the Democratic Party establishment to ensure the status quo would be preserved while manufacturing the idea of a unified Democratic Party to suppress and silence any criticism from Bernie Sanders or his supporters.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign raised over $1.2 billion in her presidential bid, and the Democratic Party has managed to fundraise itself out of debt. That money has proven to be useless though, as its been wasted by an inept and out-of-touch leadership that is more focused on courting corporate and wealthy donors than developing policies and solutions to the concerns of working, middle class, low income, and young voters. Democrats have shown no sign of breaking this fundraising obsession and have further embraced private conferences and meetings with billionaire donors to determine the party’s agenda.

During the interview Bernie Sanders was asked why he hasn’t officially and formally joined the Democratic Party. This assertion, that he’s not a “real Democrat” has been a purveying criticism from establishment Democrats who disagree that any reforms or changes to the party needs to be made. Sanders cited he is honoring the voters who voted for him as an Independent Senator and that in Vermont there are no party affiliations on the ballot.

“The Democrats will not succeed unless it attracts many, many millions of Independents,” said Sanders. “The number of people who are now moving in the Independent direction as opposed to the Republican and Democrat direction, it is growing. So if the Democrats are going to be successful, that party is going to have to appeal to a whole lot of independents.”

Rather than acknowledge they need Independent voters and to bring more voters into the Democratic Party, establishment Democrats have been more focused on doubling down on shaming, scolding, and scaring people into supporting them. The party’s strategy is to ride out the Trump presidency with the hopes that his unpopularity will correlate to Democratic Party wins. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters in February 2017, “The way I told my members: It’s like telling your friend the guy she’s dating is a jerk. You can’t tell her that. She has to find out for herself. You can give her clues and then eventually one thing will lead to another, she’ll come to her conclusion. But if you tell her right up front, you’ll lose a friend. So we’re not interested in losing any friends. Let them find out.”

Pelosi’s attitude and terrible political strategy is why she has presided over the Democrats losing over 60 seats in the House, and why Republicans in congress use her as an attack strategy in elections, because she embodies how out of touch Democrats are with anyone outside of their inner circle of party loyalists.

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Michael Sainato’s writing has appeared in the Guardian, Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun, Denver Post, Buffalo News, the Hill, Alternet, and several other publications . Follow him on twitter: @MSainat1

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