Bernie Sanders came within a handful of votes of the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination despite his refusal to to join the party until he decided to make a run for its brass ring. As soon as Hillary Clinton defeated him, Sanders once again left the party to return to his previous status as an independent. Senate Democrats offered him a role in the caucus’ leadership, which Sanders accepted but will still refuse to actually join the party.
His new role? “Chairman of Outreach”:
“I was elected as an Independent and I will finish this term as an Independent,” Sanders said at a breakfast Thursday morning hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
Sanders has long caucused with Democrats as an independent. That has annoyed some Democrats as Sanders’s star has risen on the left. They are frustrated by his influence within a party that he refuses to embrace.
Sanders on Wednesday was named chairman of outreach, a newly created leadership post designed to leverage his reach and popularity to engage working class and young voters in the political process.
What exactly is a “Chairman of Outreach” supposed to do? One would assume it would entail attracting new voters to the party. That seems like a tough argument to sell when the man in charge of the effort won’t rejoin the party himself. Sanders tries to excuse that by claiming to be honoring the terms of his election to the Senate, but he didn’t have a problem changing his affiliation when it came to running for the Democratic nomination.
Basically, the Sanders post is nothing more than sheer pander. Sanders has taken lately to claiming that he would have beaten Trump in a general election based on election returns that are still coming in, but that’s arguable on two counts. First, Hillary outpolled Sanders in the Democratic primaries, and it’s unclear that Sanders would have netted more votes in the states where Democrats lost the presidential election anyway. He might have excited more millennials but scared off more moderates who weren’t looking to double down on Big Government, quasi-socialist policies. Besides, even if Sanders might have beaten Trump, any other Republican would have trounced him, using the same logic Sanders does.
Democrats would be far better off using Joe Manchin for their real outreach. Chuck Schumer put him on the squad, and Manchin promptly put his finger on one key reason for the Democratic Party wipeout on all levels last week:
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia says his party lost the presidential election because “there was no plan” to help people in his state and other rural states who are struggling to survive economically.
Manchin said Democrats not only didn’t have a plan, but also “people think you didn’t care.”
Manchin, who has joined Senate Democrat’s leadership team, said people in his state “feel like a returning Vietnam veteran. My little state of West Virginia has done everything this country’s asked of us and then they turn their back on us.”
He said West Virginians were so angry they were willing to overlook “offensive rhetoric” from Donald Trump, adding: “If that’s not a wake-up call I really don’t know what is.”
Sanders belongs to the Academia clique, regardless of his residence in Vermont. He’s such a member of that elite that he’s not even deigning to join the organization for which he’s nominally recruiting. That’ll certainly reinforce the impression that Democrats are snobs, and they’re specifically uninterested in anyone who doesn’t fit within the confines of their narrow vision of acceptable society.