Then there is the Democratic base, whose members would most likely feel Hillary is too much of a centrist, a DLC-type Democrat in the mold of her husband who would placate big money and Wall Street. Already, Senator Bernie Sanders, an unabashed democratic socialist representing Vermont, is talking about the possibility of running his own independent campaign.
As he told The Nation in an exclusive cover interview with John Nichols last week, he is “prepared to run for President of the United States.” Sanders “has begun talking with progressive political strategists, traveling to unexpected locations like Alabama and entertaining the kinds of process questions that this most issue-focused member of the Senate has traditionally avoided.”
Ever the socialist, Sanders argues that “somebody has got to represent the working class and the middle-class in standing up to the big-money interests.” You might think Hillary Clinton is a good leftist and fervent class warrior, but Bernie Sanders disagrees. “I like Hillary,” he says, “but I think, sad to say, that the Clinton type of politics is not the politics…that I’m talking about.” What the nation would get with Hillary in the WH, he argues, is “the same-old, same-old Robert Rubin type of economics…or ‘centrist’ politics, or continued dependence on big money or unfettered ‘free trade’-that is not what the country needs.”
Much as some conservatives argue that only a Ted Cruz-type candidate can mobilize the base and get conservatives out to the polls to win, Sanders argues that Hillary does not have “the politics that galvanizes the tens of millions of people today who are thoroughly alienated and disgusted with the status quo.” Hillary Clinton, he says, has the wrong politics and is the representative of “the Democratic establishment.”
In Bernie Sanders’ eyes, many Democrats are in fact “not terribly different from some of the Republicans.” This is the mirror image of the argument I heard Glenn Beck say on radio a while back — namely that the Republican Party is finished and represents nothing, and that true conservatives should think of backing their own candidates outside of the tarnished Republican brand.
Sanders fully realizes that if he decides to run, he will put into place the Nader effect, getting just enough votes to swing the election to make it a Republican win. That alone might give him pause. But he also believes firmly that “operating in the framework of the Democratic Party” is not a “better approach.” He also believes that the people understand that unless the party changes, they will lose white working-class votes. In his eyes, the only way to win is by a massive shift to the kind of socialist policies he openly supports.
So we have the possibility of a Clinton nomination on the Democratic side and a Bush nomination on the Republican side, and the chance that in both parties, mavericks dissatisfied with that choice will favor an independent run of their own. For now, all bets are off, but a third-party run — either by a disenchanted Democrat or a conservative or libertarian Republican — always hurts the party they broke from and more likely ensures the political victory of a candidate they all disdain.