People are making this a lot more complicated than it needs to be. The reality is as follows:
The loyalty of a dog will be to those who feed him.
The loyalty of a politician will be to those who fund him.
It really is that simple, and that basic. A tiny, tiny sliver of the population - less than a quarter million people - contribute the great majority of funding for political campaigns. Additional enticements come in a multitude of forms, including jobs for spouses and/or offspring, book deals, speaking fees, and post-career lobbying positions.
It's a rare dog indeed who bites the hand that feeds - same obviously holds true for politicians. There will be those rare ethical politicians like Sanders and Gabbard, but most pols will continue to carry water for the people who bankroll their careers.
What to do about this is the $64 million question. Due to all the legal restrictions put in place to protect the two-party duopoly, building up a new political party to replace the Democratic Party is a daunting challenge indeed. I admire and encourage all those engaged in such an effort, but it shouldn't be the only progressive iron in the fire.
Here's what I think could work:
One, create a rump faction of the Democratic Party, which has its own name, formal structure and identity. For the sake of discussion, I'll just call it the Progressive Democratic Alliance, or PDA.
Second, the PDA would have its own platform - not some 60 page opus filled with vague legalese, such as the current Democratic Party platform, but a very concise and straightforward document that proposes very specific and realistic policies to address the most pressing problems our society faces, such as climate change, health care, education, job outsourcing, criminal justice reform, etc. All potential candidates running under the PDA banner would have to fully embrace this platform, along with all of its individual components.
Third, the PDA would have to embrace a campaign funding model in line with the one employed by Bernie Sanders, which would also be compulsory for all would-be candidates. No more PACs, billionaire contributions, or corporate bundlers. All campaign money raised would be in the form of individual donations.
Fourth, the PDA would need to create a formal Public Servant Code of Conduct, laying out in precise detail the ethical standards office holders and other governmental officials would be required to adhere to to avoid even the appearance of potential conflict of interest. This would cover not only the period of government service, but the pre-career (campaign) and post-career periods as well.
And fifth, although PDA members should be willing to make common cause with other Democrats who might not be members or support the PDA platform, they should under no circumstances be willing to endorse, campaign for, or otherwise support in any fashion Democrats who don't subscribe to the PDA funding model or code of ethics. They need to treat politicians who embrace a system that is basically nothing more than legalized bribery as the political toxins they are.
Will anything like this ever happen? It's impossible to know what the future holds, although the "culture of corruption" that has defined America's political system since its inception has proved remarkably resilient. Then again, the penalties imposed for acquiescing to more of the same have never seemed quite so calamitous as they do now either. So perhaps there is hope.
The fact that those committed to a fundamentally different way of doing things are relatively few, while those who are either indifferent or entirely comfortable with the status quo are many, should not deter or discourage us. To quote the Revolutionary War firebrand Sam Adams:
It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.
Whatever form a potential New Way of Doing Things takes, those who possess a genuinely progressive vision of the future need to get busy setting those fires.