Now that it seems quite evident Bernie Sanders won’t secure enough super delegates to win the nomination; it’s time to think of an alternative option to continue his revolution. If he takes the Vice Presidency, as many have suggested, or any position in Clinton’s cabinet, his voice will be silenced. His independent allure will disappear and his motives would appear self-serving and counter to any political revolution he was once promoting. Instead, Bernie Sanders must reach out to Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Many liberals bemoan this suggestion. Often heralding this as the ushering of Trump as the 45th President. But this time that might not be true.
Before I explain, I understand the super delegates don’t vote until the end of July. But let’s be honest, they are Democratic Party insiders. They aren’t going to change their votes for Sanders, who has 3 million less votes than Clinton. In the words of Dennis Green, “They are who we thought they were.” And that’s fine, because political revolutions don’t happen in the Democratic Party. They happen outside the establishment.
Here why a Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein coalition wouldn’t automatically grant victory to Trump. Although Trump is a popular figure, he is wildly unpopular as well. We know members of the Republican base are rallying around Trump, but it seems more like a hostage crisis than the “It’s Morning” campaign. This apparent hostage crisis is leaving conservative leaders and constituents looking for a viable option outside of Trump. More importantly, polls indicate a large number of Americans would welcome alternative options. Third party candidates are polling well against Clinton and Trump. If Bernie Sanders joins forces with Jill Stein, third party politics would receive a bump in media coverage, raising awareness about other candidates like Gary Johnson, Libertarian candidate for President. A rising tides raises all ships.
Johnson gives conservatives another option. Johnson’s candidacy has the potential to take as many votes away from Trump as a Stein/Sanders ticket would take from Clinton. The race for Presidency becomes more competitive with options other than the dreaded Clinton-Trump showdown. However, to set off this chain of events, Bernie will have to take a bold step: leave the Democratic Party.
Upon leaving the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders must make an immediate push to include third party candidates into the Presidential debates. Increasing popular pressure and awareness on how the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) strategically suppress third parties could force change in their practices. After all, a large number of Americans desire more options. The Commission on Presidential Debates controls access to the Presidential debates and is unsurprisingly run by Republican and Democratic insiders and former officials. In order to take the debate stage, the CPD requires all candidates to poll at 15 percent in national polls. Paradoxically, debates are the best opportunity for third party candidates to be known nationally. Presidential debates help bolster campaigns and issues. Ross Perot’s campaign in 1992 highlights this phenomenon. He was invited to the debates and won 20 percent of the vote during the general election. In 1996, the Commission on Presidential Debates didn’t invite Perot back and he won 8 percent of the votes. There were other factors that contributed to his decrease in support. But he was on the ballot in 50 states and qualified for 29 million dollars in federal matching campaign funds. Nevertheless he was actively marginalized by both parties. Bernie Sanders’ presence can help bolster third party awareness just by speaking on the issue. Third parties can be viable enough to challenge the Democrats and Republicans, but opening up the debates is a necessary step in that process.
At the end of the day, Bernie Sanders has nothing to lose. He’s effectively been iced out of the nomination process with super delegates. Running outside the two party duopoly and trying to agitate the fetters that restrain independent voices would only serve to crystallize his political revolution. If he fails, he can return to his position in the Senate with increased clout and influence, prepared to confront the growing Republican opposition. However, Bernie has support, Americans want more options, and a 4 way race — Clinton, Johnson, Sanders/Stein, Trump–for the presidency is a great way to make that happen.