Bernie Sanders says he won’t rescind his status as an Independent, even though he’s accepted a position in Democratic Party leadership.
In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor, Sanders said that he was “elected as an Independent and I will finish this term as an Independent.”
That means that, for the next year at least, Sanders will serve as the Congressional Democrats’ chairman of outreach, in charge of bringing new and underrepresented demographics into the Democrats’ camp — though he won’t be a Democrat.
The idea, of course, is that Sanders can serve the Democratic Party by expanding its appeal to those people who joined his decidedly anti-Establishment campaign. Unfortunately for Democrats, seeking fresh blood means looking outside party ranks.
Sanders’s position as an Independent was central to his run for President, as it allowed him to say that, despite 26 years in Congress, he had remained independent of Party hierarchy and influence. He is reportedly considering a second run for President in 2020, when he’ll be 80 years old.
If he does choose to change his party affiliation, Sanders will have to wait until his next term in office; he’ll come up for re-election to his Senate seat in 2018. But Sanders told reporters after concluding his Presidential run that he would likely remain a Congressional independent even then, caucusing with Democrats.