Via Vermont Public Radio:
VPR News has learned from several sources that Independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will announce his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday.
Sanders will release a short statement on that day and then hold a major campaign kickoff in Vermont in several weeks.
Sanders’ entry into the Democratic race ensures that Hillary Clinton will face a challenge to win the support of the liberal wing of the party.
Sanders’ basic message will be that the middle class in America has been decimated in the past two decades while wealthy people and corporations have flourished.
I like Bernie Sanders a lot. I like hearing his ideas and thoughts when he’s on TV and I’ve been following his career since he was elected as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont. I also think his chances of winning the nomination are the same as those of Rick Santorum winning on the GOP side.
It’s not because Hillary Clinton has it all sewn up. First, I don’t think she has it, and second, even if she was not in the race Mr. Sanders’ chances would be just as slim. His appeal as an independent has always been to a narrow segment of the Democratic Party, and when a party is in the minority in the House, the Senate, and the state legislatures and governors mansions, you don’t nominate someone who narrowcasts and hope the message will spread.
Mr. Sanders has been a staunch independent since the day he ran for office. He’s caucused in the House and the Senate with the Democrats, but still he has been an independent who wore that label proudly. Now he’s going to join the Democrats and run in their primaries. That’s not going to endear him to the party, who will see him as just an interloper after their money and mailing lists, and the independent voters who have backed him for years will feel abandoned. There’s a reason they’re independents; they don’t agree with some of the stands of either party, and they take have a right to feel like he is selling them out.
And then there’s the whole Socialist label thing. He’s never shied away from it, and he wears it with pride. (Those who think Barack Obama is a socialist should compare him to Mr. Sanders and see just how centrist the president really is.) There is absolutely nothing wrong at all with calling yourself what you are, and this country is rife with socialist ideas and programs and has been since the day it was founded. But it’s gotten a bad rap in the last 100 years or so and there are even Democrats who flinch at hearing “socialism,” so imagine how much fun it will be trying to redefine the word in the middle of a presidential primary.
I’m glad he’s in the race; I think he’ll bring some interesting issues to it, but I can’t help but think that he’ll be seen by the voters as just a foil for the Clinton campaign to show how mainstream Ms. Clinton is and make her that much more palatable to the broad spectrum of the electorate that will get her into office.