Sanders is, at the moment, at the center of the Democrats’ push to rebuild. He has joined DNC Chairman Tom Perez on a tour of the nation they’re calling “Come Together and Fight Back.” For Sanders, the “come together” part is optional. And he’s declining it.
When it became clear that the self-described socialist senator from Vermont was resonating with the Democratic electorate ahead of 2016’s first primary contests, Sanders made a feint toward changing his party affiliation. He pledged at the time to run all future campaigns as a registered Democrat. When asked if he considered himself a “Democrat for life,” Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, emphatically replied: “Yes.” Apparently, Team Sanders didn’t think very highly of the Democratic Party’s voters. Asked this week by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes if he identifies as a Democrat, Sanders didn’t hesitate to correct him. “No, I’m an independent,” he insisted.
In a way, it is understandable that the Democratic Party would refuse to reckon with the fact that its biggest celebrity not only refuses to associate himself with the brand but admits to boldly and unrepentantly lying to their voters. This is a party with a depleted bench of talent, but no shortage of grassroots enthusiasm. At the moment, its priority is to keep the enthusiasm as high as possible in the hopes that the talent problem will resolve itself.