Ever since Bernie Sanders sprang onto the scene of American politics as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1981, he has been one of the loudest and most renowned voices on the fringe left. The self-professed socialist has spearheaded numerous major policy platforms that came to be emulated by the broader Democratic Party, including declaring services such as education and healthcare as “human rights” and making equality of outcome a more focal policy objective. More recently, a schism developed within the Democratic Party between the perceived “establishment,” characterized most notably by the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Biden, and a sizable sect of the party that broke away from the mainstream and morphed into a much further left “progressive” movement.
At the movement’s outset, Bernie Sanders was their paragon. Always the loudest voice in the room, Sanders came to represent the progressives and democratic socialists of the country and was the runner up in the Democratic National Convention with their support on two occasions. But despite this, as his platforms have forged a competing mainstream, he now risks fading into the old guard of the Democratic Party.
As this progressive faction of the Democratic Party grew in size and broadened in leadership, new progressive figures, first growing in reputation under his inspiration and tutelage, have come to challenge his influence and pull the progressives into other directions. Examples of these individuals include Senator Elizabeth Warren, who temporarily lead Sanders in the polls for nearly two months during the DNC primaries, and ‘The Squad,’ a young group of progressive Representatives consisting of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib.
While Sanders had for years been responsible for expanding the Overton Window further to the left, now these others have been assuming that role in his place. Bernie has come to adopt their edicts, such as the costly Green New Deal. Yet, as the Democrats have continued to stretch into both the anarchist and authoritarian sides of the left, Bernie has been sliding closer and closer to the center.
Recently, for example, Sanders has made strong attempts to distance himself from the “defund the police” movement, which was believed by many to have cost the Democrats the broad blue wave they were projected to have by countless major pollsters.
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sanders stated, “Nobody I know who’s running for office” believes in defunding the police. He also previously rebuked such calls to defund and abolish the police more directly during an interview with the New Yorker back in early June, stating that “There’s no city in the world that does not have police departments.”
These criticisms have largely fallen upon deaf ears in his party, doing nothing to slow the growth of the “defund the police movement,” nor to deter the growing support of it among his closest colleagues.
Despite Sanders’ claims and attempts to phase out the narrative from the party, numerous politicians associated with him have been extremely staunch proponents of defunding the police, including all four members of The Squad. Some even went a step further; Tlaib and Pressley have even gone on to architect the proposed BREATHE Act, which is described as aiming to “abandon police, prisons, and all punishment paradigms.” Responding to post-election comments from several prominent Democrats decrying the “defund the police” movement as a reason for their underperformance, Ocasio-Cortez, who has worked closer with Sanders than any other member, took to Twitter to accuse critics of the movement as being “racial resentment attacks.” For the first time in a long time, Bernie Sanders is standing alone.
Though Sanders is clearly wary of the increasingly radical platforms of the progressive movement, if he had any power to control this, he forfeited it long ago. Though never explicitly supporting defunding the police, he stood by as the movement picked up steam in its most aggressive form after the immensely controversial death of George Floyd in late May. Widespread instances of rioting and looting continuously followed this, and such instances sporadically occur even now, six months later. Over that span of time, numerous deaths have been connected to these violent demonstrations, and billions of dollars in damages, much of it uninsurable, have been lost across the country.
Regardless of whether Sanders fears such platforms will alienate the country from his cause, or if simply disagrees with them, it is clear that he has lost all strength to reign in this movement that once revered him as its greatest figure. While he has been responsible for pushing the Democratic Party further and further to the left over the years, it is now evident that he lacks the ability to limit its acceleration. And, like Frankenstein’s Monster, Bernie’s creation has now outgrown him.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.