San­ders’ fu­ture role in Demo­cratic Party remains un­clear

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

Left-wing ac­tivist Cor­nel West said Mon­day that he wants to see Sen. Bernard San­ders sever ties with the Demo­cratic Party and launch a third party molded on the Ver­mont in­de­pen­dent’s pro­gres­sive vision.

As Mr. San­ders tries to fig­ure out his role in na­tional politics, the 75-yearold’s sup­port­ers are di­vided over how tied he should be to the Demo­cratic Party, with some say­ing they’re gain­ing ground within the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee, while oth­ers say the party is rot­ten and must be for­saken.

One fac­tion of grass-roots ac­tivists plans to de­liver roughly 100,000 pe­ti­tions to Mr. San­ders’ of­fice this sum­mer, timed to the first an­niver­sary of the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial con­ven­tion that de­nied him the nom­i­na­tion, urg­ing the sen­a­tor par­lay his failed pres­i­den­tial bid into a new “Peo­ple’s Party.”

“De­liv­er­ing the signatures on the an­niver­sary of the DNC con­ven­tion when the process of steal­ing the votes, steal­ing the pri­mary from Bernie, was sealed and com­pleted — I think there would be no more fit­ting time of when that process was com­pleted,” Nick Brana, founder of the Draft Bernie for a Peo­ple’s Party, told The Washington Times.

But other San­ders back­ers said they’re mak­ing head­way, even if slowly, within the Demo­cratic ap­pa­ra­tus, and said Mr. San­ders is crit­i­cal to mak­ing that work.

“The re­al­ity is the Demo­cratic Party is the place where we have to say ‘let’s work to make the Demo­cratic Party what it says it is, which is a party for work­ing peo­ple,’ ” said Isa­iah J. Poole, spokesman for Peo­ple’s Ac­tion. “We see Bernie’s work as mov­ing to­ward that goal. We see our work elec­toral as mov­ing to­ward that goal to make the Demo­cratic Party a party of or­di­nary peo­ple and not of Wall Street and the big cor­po­ra­tions.”

Peo­ple’s Ac­tion spon­sored a “Rise Up: From Protest to Power” con­ven­tion in Washington on Mon­day fea­tur­ing Mr. San­ders, who encouraged at­ten­dees to keep up his fight against in­come in­equal­ity, against a GOP in­tent on pun­ish­ing women, work­ers and the poor, and against a Demo­cratic Party that “is not pay­ing the kind of at­ten­tion to the needs of work­ers.”

“This is what the po­lit­i­cal revo­lu­tion looks like and you are what the revo­lu­tion looks like,” Mr. San­ders said. “When peo­ple begin to stand up and fight back, when peo­ple un­der­stand that they have the power if they choose to ex­er­cise that power that is what the po­lit­i­cal revo­lu­tion is about.”

The ap­pear­ance here came hours af­ter Mr. West said in an op-ed in the Guardian that “the time has come to bid farewell to a mori­bund party that lacks imag­i­na­tion, courage and gusto.

“The mon­u­men­tal col­lapse of the Demo­cratic party — on the fed­eral, state and lo­cal lev­els — has not yielded any se­ri­ous soul-wrestling or sub­stan­tive vi­sion­ary shifts among its lead­er­ship,” Mr. West said. “Only the ubiq­ui­tous and vir­tu­ous Bernie remains true to the idea of fun­da­men­tal trans­for­ma­tion of the party — and even he ad­mits that seek­ing first-class seats on the Ti­tanic is self-de­cep­tive and self-de­struc­tive.”

In­deed, Mr. San­ders has fo­cused his post-elec­tion en­ergy on re­vamp­ing the Demo­cratic Party from the in­side-out and at the same time said Democrats who want to main­tain the sta­tus quo “would rather go down with the Ti­tanic so long as they have first-class seats.”

Mr. San­ders also has said Democrats should have in­vested more in winning a spe­cial con­gres­sional elec­tion in Kansas, which a Repub­li­can won by just 7 per­cent­age points, and said in a re­cent joint in­ter­view with DNC Chair Tom Perez on MSNBC that he still doesn’t con­sider him­self a Demo­crat. Mr. San­ders has de­scribed him­self a so­cial­ist for decades.

Still, Mr. San­ders did ac­cept a po­si­tion in Se­nate Demo­cratic Lead­er­ship and did throw his mus­cle be­hind Rep. Keith El­li­son, who lost to Mr. Perez in the race for DNC chair.

Mr. Perez named Mr. El­li­son as deputy chair­man — a move that helped ease some of the lin­ger­ing frus­tra­tion among ac­tivists over Mr. Perez’s sup­port for Hil­lary Clin­ton in last year’s Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial pri­mary.

“The fact that Perez felt com­pelled to make Keith El­li­son vice chair, that did send a mes­sage,” Mr. Poole said. “The fact that a vice chair­man­ship was cre­ated im­me­di­ately upon his elec­tion — that, well frankly, would not have hap­pened with­out the ag­i­ta­tion from San­ders and the San­ders’ move­ment. It was a clear con­ces­sion, no doubt about it. I take that as in­cre­men­tal progress.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sen. Bernard San­ders, Ver­mont In­de­pen­dent, has been tapped to start a third party based on his pro­gres­sive views called the Peo­ple’s Party.

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