By Mark Wachtler
September 15, 2014. Des Moines. (ONN) With Republicans alienating everyone but the rich, Democrats have been the beneficiary of a voter bubble for lack of a better term. The party is so big in fact, many insist there’s a right-winger in the White House representing the Democratic Party. A real progressive, independent US Senator Bernie Sanders, was campaigning in Iowa this weekend, presumably running for President and attempting to expose the corruption and hypocrisy of both establishment parties.
Sen. Bernie Sanders addresses IA voters this weekend. Image courtesy of DesMoinesRegister.com.
It’s not official, but it’s no secret and there’s no denying it - independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is running for US President, at least for the moment. Sanders joined another unofficial Presidential candidate this weekend, Hillary Clinton. They’re in Iowa, talking to voters in the all-important state that holds the first caucus in the long road to the White House. As Clinton and Obama found out in 2008, the sparsely populated and very conservative state can make or break a Presidential campaign.
Bernie Sanders for President
It’s worth pointing out right away that the Democratic Party will do anything and everything to stop the socialist-progressive Vermont Senator from running for US President. One example why comes from this weekend’s Iowa 2016 election kick-off. As an independent, Sanders wouldn’t have to face Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primary. Instead, he would simply appear on the November General Election ballot, siphoning of a massive number of progressive Democrat votes and most-likely leaving the Republican Presidential nominee as the landslide winner in 2016.
Illustrating that fact is a TIME Magazine report from the basement of the Grace United Methodist Church in Des Moines. It was there Saturday that hundreds of Democratic voters walked away from the Bill and Hillary Clinton rally at Iowa Senator Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry. Harkin’s annual event always draws the top contenders for the Presidency and this year was no different. The only surprise was when independent Bernie Sanders showed up to steal the Democrats’ thunder, and their voters.
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While 10,000 people cheered the Clintons on, 450 of them walked away to join Senator Bernie Sanders at his own campaign event at Iowa’s Grace United Methodist. As measured by the TIME reporter, Sanders’ voter base in Iowa is made up almost entirely of past John Edwards supporters from 2008. And that’s the problem for whoever the Democratic nominee turns out to be. In 2008, when Edwards eventually lost, his supporters stayed with the party and supported its nominee Barack Obama. In 2016, these voters will have to leave the Democratic Party to vote for Sanders in the General Election, and against the Democratic nominee.
Sanders speaks to voters
As reported in the TIME piece from Iowa this weekend, ‘In his speech, Sanders rattles off figures that point to the unfairness that many of his supporters are most concerned about: that top 25 US hedge fund managers made $24 billion last year, or the equivalent of the annual salaries of 450,000 public school teachers. That Walmart is now the largest employer in America while the Walton family, which owns Walmart, possesses as much wealth as the bottom 40% of all earners in America. “It’s called indentured servitude!” another man yelled at the top of Sanders’ speech.’
You won’t hear populist rhetoric at a Hillary Clinton rally. The former First Lady, US Senator and Secretary of State has already locked in the support of mega-bank Goldman Sachs, along with millions of dollars in contributions to her 2016 run. Contrasting Hillary Clinton’s impersonal and distanced campaign style, Sanders was right among the people, rolling with the momentum they supplied and even encouraging the frustrated and angry outbursts by the crowd.
Democrats going independent
“I like the issues Bernie’s hitting, his anger, because I’m angry,” one Democratic Air Force veteran in attendance said. He also says he believes Clinton is too “corporate.” “This isn’t the country I defended,” the man added, sounding like one of the conservatives that Democrats often ridicule as being racist. Sanders seized the topic telling the crowd of supporters, “We have more people living in poverty than any other time in the history of the United States of America.” “It’s a crying shame!” a man yelled from the audience. “It is a crying shame,” Sanders replied.
After Sanders’ speech, TIME spoke to other people in attendance. Few were independents at the independent Senator’s Presidential campaign event. Almost all were Democrats. And one father and son team there to hear Sanders speak personified the problem Hillary Clinton will have if she eventually runs for President in 2016 - Clinton isn’t even their second choice. “She’s my girlfriend,” the 79-year-old Democrat and father said. His 51-year-old son added with a smile, “We admire what Bernie’s doing, but she’s an accomplisher. She gets things done.” But they weren’t talking about Hillary Clinton. They were referring to their favorite potential 2016 Presidential hopeful - US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Independent or Democrat? Bernie Sanders explains
It seems Senator Bernie Sanders is definitely running for President. The only question now, one asked to the Senator by USA Today last week, is which party would he run under? Or would he continue his career-long streak of only appearing on the election ballot as an ‘independent’?
“If you run as a Democrat, it would obviously be much easier to get on the ballot," Sanders told the publication, “And the advantage, again, running as a Democrat, is that you would be in the middle of Democratic primaries. You would be in debates. And you would, I think, attract more media attention for your ideas.” And that’s the truth. Whiteout Press readers know better than anyone how independents and third party candidates are purposely excluded from the televised, corporate-sponsored Presidential debates. And they have to collect exponentially more ballot access petition signatures as the two establishment parties’ candidates do just to appear on the ballot.
USA Today talked to a number of progressive Democratic leaders who each echoed basically the same sentiment - Bernie Sanders must run for President, but only if he runs as a Democrat. The group that is distributing thousands of ‘Run Bernie Run’ tee shirts, buttons, bumper stickers and window signs - Progressive Democrats of America - warns however that if he runs as an Independent, they won’t back him. Why? They point to Ralph Nader’s Green Party run in 2000 that drained so many votes from Al Gore, it put George W. Bush in the White House.
Too early to decide
“If he runs as an independent, we just feel he would be isolated,” Conor Boylan of Progressive Democrats of America warned, “It wouldn't be a smart move for him.” A Washington DC political consultant and a two-time staffer of Sanders’ campaigns agreed. The consultant acknowledged the “substantial procedural and legal hurdles” Democrats and Republicans have put in place to prevent independents from running for office.
But Sanders immediately put Democrats’ fears to rest, insisting he would drop out of the Presidential race if it looked like his candidacy would split the progressive vote and elect a Republican President in 2016. “If the campaign did not catch on, I would not stay in the race until November and play the role of a spoiler,” he assured fellow progressives and independents, “But that decision would have to be made down the line.”
The publication pointed to a recent poll that shows the American people don’t agree with Democrats’ conclusion. They want Sanders to run for President and to run as an independent. ‘55% of 608 people polled in May said they would likely support a Sanders presidential bid,’ USA Today wrote, ‘Of that group, 55% said he should run as an independent while 31% said he should run as a Democrat.’
Sanders, a staunch independent
For his part, Senator Sanders shrewdly gives the American people more credit than apparently the Democratic Party and Wall Street media outlets do. In an appearance on Meet The Press last week, the independent Vermont Senator said he believes the positions and policies of the candidate are more important than their party affiliation.
“The truth is, profound anger at both political parties, more and more people are becoming independent,” Bernie Sanders told the nationally televised audience, “The negative is, how do you set up a fifty-state infrastructure as an independent?” Unlike Hillary Clinton, who has already publicly pledged her support for Wall St. banks if elected, Sanders is doubling-down on his support of regular people over the interests of the rich and powerful.
“The American people want change,” he told the network, “They want Congress, they want candidates to stand up to the big money interests. I think anybody who speaks to the needs of the working class and the middle class of this country and shows the courage to take on the billionaire class, I think that candidate will do pretty well.”
For more information on Senator Bernie Sanders’ possible run for President, visit DraftBernie.com.