Bernie Sanders supporters have embraced the Green Party’s Dr. Jill Stein as a viable second choice in the event that Bernie Sanders does not win the Democratic nomination. Many Bernie or Bust adherents have said they will vote for the Green Party rather than vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Even Stein herself has extended an offer to Sanders to collaborate with Stein and the Green Party but he has yet to respond or even meet with her. This is not surprising.
While many supporters have implored Bernie Sanders to either join with Stein or run as an independent, the chance of him doing either is slim to none. Even if he wanted to consider a run with Stein, Bernie is a man of his word, and he will remain a candidate on the Democratic ticket at least until the National Convention in Philadelphia. Sanders was also invited to collaborate with the Green Party several times before he announced his candidacy. But now that he’s on the Democratic ticket, he must be careful not to have any appearance of collaborating with third parties in order to maintain his status as a Democratic candidate.
A recent Salon piece urges readers to not rule out a Sanders/Stein run. However, the writers are overlooking the fact that Bernie has said firmly and unequivocally that he will remain a Democrat after the primaries. This rules out a Green Party run with Stein, although many of us would love to see it. His vague answer to the question regarding a potential run with Stein shouldn’t be seen as anything other than what it is: a commitment to keep Trump out of the White House.
Bernie can’t talk to Jill Stein because the DNC could see that as a disqualifying action and his delegates would not be seated in Philadelphia. He is taking the battle to the National Convention in an effort to influence the Democratic platform, so any appearance of defecting to the Green Party would be enough for an already hostile Democratic leadership to shut him out. Sanders has also said that he will remain a Democrat after the primaries, so it is doubly unlikely he will join the Green ticket.
What will most likely happen is, if Hillary Clinton gets the nomination, he will not explicitly endorse her but instead campaign for down ticket candidates. He will not join the Green Party ticket. Instead, he will campaign against Trump in whatever way he can without actually endorsing Clinton for president. He could do this for two reasons: a political endorsement would mean he loses credibility among a large swath of his supporters, and he can take his progressive platform back to the Senate.
Returning to the Senate as one of the most powerful legislators in the nation, Bernie could wield significant influence among his peers in both House and Senate. He will overtake Elizabeth Warren as the most influential progressive senator. Last month, the Inquisitr reported how Warren’s endorsement caused her popularity to plummet. Progressives see it as a betrayal of her values and the American people.
Sanders will also have the backing of millions of Americans who supported his presidential run. He will be a thorn in the side of whoever wins the general election, and mostly Clinton’s. Sanders saw an opportunity to try and make some positive changes with the Clintons, and he first made contact with Hillary during the 1992 Democratic primary races. Bernie has dogged her since and will continue to if she becomes president.
Contrary to the revisionist history of the Clinton camp, Hillary was not a big pioneer on the issue of health care reform. Bernie was. It was Sanders, a newly-elected member of the House of Representatives, who reached out to the future first lady to discuss it.
As Politico reported in June 2015, Sanders first reached out to Hillary Clinton in May of 1992 to promote a bill he had written regarding federal funding for cancer registries. After Bill was elected, he again reached out to her, asking to discuss a Canadian-style single-payer health care reform. During the meeting, she rejected the idea, saying it was too difficult to implement. Hillary later took up the cause of universal health care, which is not quite the same as a single-payer system.
Before this primary race, Bernie Sanders was just an obscure senator from the tiny state of Vermont who often called out political and economic corruption to an audience that largely ignored him. After he began to run, people started to listen, and once people began to hear his message, they switched from Hillary to Bernie. Sanders managed to pull in more than 12 million votes, perhaps more, and won 22 states, some of those in landslide victories.
Sanders has exposed the vast political corruption by simple virtue of being a Democratic candidate. The establishment Democrats who recently booed him for refusing to drop out and endorse Clinton right then are part of the problem. From the moment he began this race, Sanders has said he is in it until the convention, and so any efforts by anyone to get him to endorse Clinton before that time is a wasted effort.
This is why Bernie won’t run as a Green candidate. It’s not because he couldn’t win. But it’s because he has dedicated himself to reforming the Democratic Party. If Bernie suddenly changed his mind and joined the Green Party ticket, it would come as a big surprise. Jane Sanders has said on more than one occasion that Bernie is a man of his word, and when he says he will do something, he does it.
The Green Party is currently on the ballot in only 20 states, but is expected to be on the ballot in at least 47. The party is currently lobbying for ballot access or conducting a write-in campaign, according to the Green Party website. Because of this, a win on the Green ticket would be possible.
For better or for worse, this is why Bernie Sanders simply cannot and will not discuss a Sanders-Stein Green Party ticket run. It is not because he disagrees with Stein or the Green’s platform. It is because he has committed himself to one cause and is bound by his word to follow through.
Read Stein’s open letter to Bernie Sanders here.
[Photo by Craig Ruttle/AP Images]