Senator Bernie Sanders, long touted by his supporters for being impervious to the establishment, has pledged his loyalty to the Democratic Party just this week. This follows a slow but consistent pattern of Sanders moderating his positions and becoming more establishment friendly in an attempt to secure the Democratic nomination.
Sanders has waffled on his party affiliation since running in the Democratic primary in 2015. He has repeatedly stated that he is the “longest serving Independent in Congress”. In order to get ballot access in New Hampshire in 2015, Sanders contradicted this sentiment, stating ” I had to make a decision six months ago. Do I run as a Democrat or do I run as an Independent? And I made that decision. I am running as a Democrat, obviously. I am a Democrat now.”
One of the most often cited reasons that Sanders’ supporters love him so much is his supposed authenticity. A Quinnipiac poll conducted during the 2016 Democratic Primary found that 68% of voters see the Senator as trustworthy. Despite this, the Senator has flip flopped repeatedly on both his party affiliation and policy positions. During the Democratic Primary, Sanders said that open borders was a “Koch Brothers proposal”. With the ascendance of more radical candidates, he has jumped on the open borders bandwagon, agreeing that ICE should be abolished.
Despite Sanders embracing the Democratic establishment, they have consistently shown that they do not embrace him. The 2016 Wikileaks email dump found that top DNC officials actively colluded to give then Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton an advantage over Sanders in the Democratic Primary. Even though the DNC went out of their way to harm Sanders campaign and elevate Clinton’s, he still endorsed Clinton all the way through the general election in November.
Sanders faces an increasingly radical and progressive crop of candidates for the 2020 election. Almost all of them have endorsed universal healthcare. This comes after increasing pressure from loud progressive voices in the party, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez who has stated that she will give a “list of names” to her supporters to menace moderates who do not tow the party line.