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Why Radicals Like Bernie Sanders Should Run As Democrats, Not Independents


Why Radicals Like Bernie Sanders Should Run As Democrats, Not Independents

Jacob Swenson-Lengyel

Senator Bernie Sanders, the socialist from Vermont, is running for president. Even more ambitiously, he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he wants to lead “a political revolution in this country.” And he’s doing it as a Democrat.


The Democratic party has been taken over by the Corporations. Therefore Bernie would never stand a chance. Besides he’s not a radical by any stretch of the imagination. Last year he came out in support
of Israel’s slaughter of the Palestinian people. Both party’s are corrupt to the core. We need get rid of this one party system (War Party) A.S.A.P…


This author points to the Tea Party but does not acknowledge the fact that the Tea Party was/is just another face of corporate power, NOT an example of the little people changing a political power structure from within. This author knows this yet has adopted a Think Tank style of “progressive” persuasion that will absolutely serve him well in his quest for his own standing in that very system that such an omission of fact services.


It’s a good article because it does point out the necessity of changing parties from within. Gorbachov was successful in dismantling the Soviet Empire from rising within the ranks of the Communist Party. Though I agree with progressives that the Democratic Party has been highjacked by corporate interests, it is also possible to retake the Party from corporate America if enough people make it happen.
There is a problem with Progressives and Bernie’s alleged support for Israeli apartheid, but we must focus on Bernie’s main message because without it we can expect nothing to fundamentally change about domestic or foreign policy decisions. The watershed moment in American politics will be when we remove corporate influence from government completely. Anything short of this, is a failure of democracy.
The key now will be to see if we can use the existing, corrupt system which will pit Wall Street’s woman Hillary, against the 99% representative… Bernie. The primaries may very well fail to overcome the deep pockets of special interest groups, but perhaps Americans will come one step closer to the realization that corporate control of our government is the main short coming in our political process today.
On the other hand, if Bernie is elected and if he removes corporate influence from politics (two very large ‘ifs’), public opinion for the first time may very well shape our policies. This has only occurred briefly in our history and with severe limitations, but it is not an indication that more isn’t possible. I, for one, believe that if Hillary is chosen as the next Democratic ‘hopeful’, Americans will resign themselves to the fact that we no longer live in a functioning democracy. While this is common knowledge for Progressives, it has been a little harder to accept for the mainstream population. After all, our MSM reinforces this illusion every day with phrases like… “the world’s only indispensable democracy” and a country who promotes ‘free people everywhere’. We also have many freedoms that we still enjoy such as the freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and an independent internet which may one day translate into a free government if we’re lucky, organized and determined to wrest control of the Hill from the money interests.
Go, Bernie Go!


The left should take a page from the Tea Party’s playbook?

I vehemently disagree! The so called Tea Party was never independent of corporate power.

Bernie is the corporate Obama of 2016 except he has more integrity on domestic issues. To the .01% Bernie is being played like a fiddle and just the fake opposition for the dog and pony show set for 2016 to make the American progressive people believe they have a democracy.


“…it is vain to fetishize purity at the cost of power. Better to step onto the field of struggle and risk defilement than relegate oneself to the sidelines”.

A better strategy, in a nutshell.


Has Bernie Sanders acknowledged, publicly, that the Democratic Party is in cahoots with the Republican Part to serve corporate power and to serve Empire, and that his candidacy represents an opportunity for voters to signal their their revulsion for such a party and their desire for a sharp change in the party’s direction and priorities?

If he does that, I may take him seriously. But I suspect he won’t.


Idealism, goals, principles, values - all currently discounted as “purity” and an enemy of ‘realistic’ action. ‘Risking defilement’ is actually compromising one’s own principles. Not ‘relegating oneself to the sidelines’ is just the old bandwagon approach. Bernie talks and sometimes acts differently from most politicians, but this does not make him either a socialist or a radical. Language is a powerful thing, isn’t it.


What can “compromise one’s own principles” more than" relegating oneself to the sidelines" and giving up?


The quote reads, “Better to step onto the field of struggle and risk defilement than relegate oneself to the sidelines.” With the snide phrase, ‘risking defilement’, Swenson-Lengyel shows he is among those who think it’s more ‘realistic’ to compromise than stick to one’s, in his view, unreasonably “pure” values. I don’t happen to agree.


False choice - one can step into the field of struggle with one’s principles intact without “relegating oneself to the sidelines” …


He left out a couple of “minor” details - for one, Bernie has made it clear he has no intention of being a “spoiler” - when he loses the primary, he will hop on Hillary’s bandwagon instead of backing an indy whose principles are closer to the ones he avows … I saw this happen in '04, when Kucinich ran - I joined a bunch of folks to get him on the ballot in NY, when DK didn’t get the nomination (surprise, surprise), they voted for Kerry in the election - Kerry, almost the opposite of Kucinich in many ways - I voted for Nader, whose platform was pretty much like DK’s … that, to me, was the logical choice - principle over party … When DK did his 180 on healthcare, i realized that if the poster boy for prog Dems would knuckle under, what was the point in electing prog Dems? Running as a Dem is dancing with the devil - you can jitterbug a bit, but don’t dare step on his toes …

Another little “detail” was the fact that many Tea Party reps were financed by big money - this “grassroots” bit re them is astroturf …

“We can build independent political organizations that work to transcend neoliberalism by holding candidates, including radical candidates, accountable to the principals of the movement without necessarily building a third party from the ground up.”

We don’t have to start from the ground up - we have national 3rd parties now - with platforms and candidates much more worthy of prog support than either Sanders or, for that matter, Warren - I think both, though good on their issues, are, IMO, pretty much one trick ponies - scratch the surface and you find some things that are a real problem for progs and other human beings, and deservedly so … progs aren’t just about better wages, hobbling banks, and green jobs - our foreign policy is a biggie for them - and both Bernie and Liz, as far as i can tell, are seriously deficient in that area …

We have blown it on Dems too many times - sorry, no more chances - fool us once, shame on you, fool us twice, thrice, a million times and we are the fools …


How does one maintain one’s principles intact without stepping into the struggle and staying on the sidelines?


Opting out “of the field of struggle and relegating oneself to the sidelines” separates the committed from the posers. “Power concedes nothing without a demand”.


Can’t agree with you more that the change has to happen from within the Democratic Party. By doing so it affords Bernie the opportunity to educate the public from the lectern about populist and progressive answers to our most pressing problems. For many it might be their first opportunity to grasp a different perspective on addressing issues that we face. If he manages to change their perception, that will be a victory. By running as a third pary candidate the only media that will carry his message would be Al Jazeera America and RT news.


He’s not all you want in a candidate, but in a presidential system you have to form your alliances before the election.

Tea party voters will be just as disillusioned when their knight in shining armor comes through their all-white primaries, and they have to get ready to face the general electorate with a RINO


A well stated, politically mature comment. We have to work within and influence the system we have as much as we have to pressure it from the streets. The delusional idealism, and liberal anarchism seen in much of the left cripples progress. A good article on this by Christian Parenti is well worth reading.

When elected leader advocate strong progressive legislation much less platforms, they should be commended and maybe backed depending on their records. Cynical condemnation is hardly encouraging. There are no saints in the running. Sanders and Warren are not perfect but they represent real possibilities for a long overdue move from extreme-right neo-liberalism. Ultimately, we the People need to exert our power but at least Sanders would be more open to hearing us.


I don’t think you can - I think we agree on this …


Wait and see what the “media” does with his message -
Sanders and his message will be covered , to the extent he is, in much the same way as Kucinich or Nader …


I think your question about lefties having the balls to break the party if not accommodated is spot on …
I watched as my fellow Kucinich supporters voted for Kerry when DK didn’t get the nomination in '04, instead of going for Nader, his kin re principles …

If folks who want to support Bernie (including Bernie) would all jump to, say, Stein, if/when Bernie doesn’t get the nomination, THAT would be a real message … But Bernie will prove a Trojan Horse for the Dems, methinks …

Wonder what Warren will do in primary season - will she campaign for Bernie, her fellow knight in shining armor? Ha,ha, methinks not - for all her rhetoric, she doesn’t really want to upset the Dem applecart either …