Hillary Clinton became the Democratic Party’s nominee for president of the United States last Thursday, and soon after her rival Bernie Sanders announced he was returning to the Senate as an Independent. “I was elected as an independent so I'll stay two years more as an independent,” he said to the press. But this decision raised the ire of MSNBC’s Al Sharpton on PoliticsNation, Sunday, “After all Sanders became a Democrat to be in their primary, to be in their debates, but now he’s leaving the party.”
Sharpton was perplexed as to why Sanders would want to remain an Independent following his loss to Clinton. “But if he’s not going to belong to the Democratic Party it makes you wonder what all this talk of party unity is all about,” he stated after playing a clip of Sanders’ Campaign Manager Jeff Weaver saying he would remain a Democrat on Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect.
“How are Democrats supposed to feel about Bernie’s decision to go back as an Independent,” he inquired to The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart. “Well, I can imagine that there are a lot of Democrats who are probably scratching their heads…” Capehart responded before being quickly cut off by the MSNBC host. “Maybe feeling a different bern,” Sharpton sneered. “Well, yeah absolutely. They're feeling burned I think,” Capehart agreed.
It appeared as though the host was arguing that Sanders somehow owed it to party to remain a Democrat, and wondered if it would come back to bite him:
He ran in the Democratic primary and used their stage, their infrastructure, put it out there— And I played his campaign manager said he is a Democrat, and Democrat for life which now ends up being something else. And you look at that and you look at how some of his supporters wouldn't even follow his support to Mrs. Clinton. Does this become a problem for him in the Senate?
But does Sanders really owe anything to the party? There was no mention, at all, about the leaked E-Mails from the Democratic Nation Committee that showed evidence of a party establishment conspiring against him. Throughout the primary season Sanders had noted how part leadership stacked the chips against him, which turned out to be the case. Many in the media have noted that the reason the party made concessions to Sanders in the platform was to try and retain his supporters. So why would he say?
July 31, 2016
8:34:58 AM Eastern
AL SHARPTON: Democrats made sure to give Bernie Sanders his due at their convention and he gave Hillary Clinton a national endorsement. But he also said he is returning to the Senate as an Independent, not a Democrat. A decision that is raising some eyebrows.
[Video of Sanders]
BERNIE SANDERS: I was elected as an independent so I'll stay two years more as an independent.
SHARPTON: After all Sanders became a Democrat to be in their primary, to be in their debates, but now he’s leaving the party. It’s exactly what his campaign manager promised he would NOT do just a few months ago.
[Clip from Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect]
MARK HALPERIN: If senator Sanders is not the nominee will he stay in the Democratic Party forever now?
JEFF WEAVER: Well, he is a Democrat. He said he's a Democrat and he’s going to be supporting the Democratic nominee, whoever that is.
HALPERIN: But he's a member of the Democratic Party now for life?
WEAVER: Yes he is. Yes he is.
SHARPTON: In this campaign Sanders brought valuable focus to issues like income inequality and poverty. But if he’s not going to belong to the Democratic Party it makes you wonder what all this talk of party unity is all about. Let's bring back Elise Jordan and Jonathan Capehart. Jonathan how are Democrats supposed to feel about Bernie’s decision to go back as an Independent?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, I can imagine that there are a lot of Democrats who are probably scratching their heads but look, you know, it's interesting—
SHARPTON: Maybe feeling a different Bern.
CAPEHART: Well, yeah absolutely. They're feeling burned I think. That sound bite you just played, I had not heard that before. And cause I was wondering when the announcement was made that Senator Sanders had officially changed his registration from Independent to Democrat. So when the announcement was made or when he gave the interview saying that he would remain an Independent that didn't come as a surprise to me.
Look, if Senator Sanders really wanted to be a member of the Democratic Party he would have switched his registration and he would also have raised money for the Democratic National Committee, and he would have registered those thousands of people who showed up to his rallies all over the country. He would have registered them as Democrats.
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SHARPTON: But doesn't that raise the question Elise, he ran in the Democratic primary and used their stage, their infrastructure, put it out there— And I played his campaign manager said he is a Democrat, and Democrat for life which now ends up being something else. And you look at that and you look at how some of his supporters wouldn't even follow his support to Mrs. Clinton. Does this become a problem for him in the Senate? And does it seem like he lost control of some of his supporters?
ELISE JORDAN: I don't think it's a problem for him in the Senate, because he is Bernie Sanders the ultimate rogue Vermont senator. He is known as an Independent. I think that's part of the problem of crying to run as a Democrat and then not getting the support the he probably should have from the DNC. I think that, you look at what happened at the Democratic convention this week and it was really impressive that, despite all the animosity within the party, people really did come together. Hillary Clinton let Bernie Sanders have his night. The supporters were able to, you know, air their grievances that was out there. And I think, it played much better than at the Republican convention when Never Trump supporters weren't able to air their concerns. And the same thing happened in 2012 with Ron Paul supporters and arguably laid the ground work for the mess we have today in the Republican Party.