Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced today that if there is no voice for the left in the presidential field, he is prepared to run for president in 2016
Transcript of Sen. Sanders’ interview with The Nation’s John Nichols:
John Nichols: Are you going to run for president in 2016?
Bernie Sanders: I don’t wake up every morning as some people here in Washington do and say, “You know, I really have to be president of the United States. I was born to be president of the United States.” What I do wake up every morning feeling is that this country faces more serious problems than at any time since the Great Depression, and there is a horrendous lack of serious political discourse or ideas out there that can address these crises and that somebody has got to represent the working-class and the middle-class of this country in standing up to the big-money interests who have so much power over the economic and political life of this country. So I am prepared to run for president of the United States. I don’t believe that I am the only person out there who can fight this fight, but I am certainly prepared to look seriously at that race.
When you say you are “prepared to run,” that can be read in two ways. One is to say you have the credentials, the prominence, the following to seek the office. The other is to say that you are making preparations for a run. How do you parse that?
If the question is, am I actively right now organizing and raising money and so forth for a campaign for president, I am not doing that. On the other hand, am I talking to people around the country? Yes, I am. Will I be doing some traveling around the country? Yes, I will be. But I think it’s premature to be talking about (the specifics of) a campaign when we still have a 2014 congressional race in front of us.
It is very obvious that Sen. Sanders does not want to run for president. He isn’t putting an organization together. He isn’t raising money for 2016. It is also clear that there is a valid concern among Democrats that Hillary Clinton needs to be challenged from the left. If she isn’t challenged in some way, Clinton would be free to campaign from what I like to call the Clintonian middle of American politics. This is a fine general election strategy that will put many red states in play for the Democrats, but there could very well not be a candidate in the 2016 presidential field who represents the traditional left.
I have very mixed feelings about a 2016 independent candidacy for Bernie Sanders. While it would be good to see left strongly represented in the general election, the deck is stacked against Independent candidates. Sanders would have very little money, no media attention, and he would not be invited to the presidential debates. The senator from Vermont has a bigger platform to fight for the middle class, the poor, women, and veterans in the Senate.
Bernie Sanders doesn’t want to run for president, but if he has to in order to keep Hillary Clinton honest, he will.
Sen. Sanders is both a patriot and a reluctant candidate, but if duty calls, he will be a champion for the voiceless in 2016.