Bernie Sanders Is Running For President Again

Bernie is back and running for President, but he's likely to face a tougher road this time around.

To no real surprise, Bernie Sanders is once again running for the Democratic nomination for President: 

Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent and 2016 Democratic primary runner-up whose populist policy agenda has helped push the party to the left, announced on Tuesday that he was running for president again, embarking on a bid that would test whether he could retain the anti-establishment appeal he enjoyed with many liberal voters three years ago.

A self-styled democratic socialist whose calls for “Medicare for all,” a $15 minimum wage and tuition-free public colleges have become pillars of the party’s left wing, Mr. Sanders is among the best-known politicians to join an already crowded Democratic field and one of the most outspoken against President Trump, whom he has repeatedly called a “pathological liar” and a “racist.”

“Three years ago, during our 2016 campaign, when we brought forth our progressive agenda we were told that our ideas were ‘radical’ and ‘extreme,'” Mr. Sanders said on Tuesday in an early-morning email to supporters, citing those health, economic and education policies as well as combating climate change and raising taxes on wealthy Americans.

“Well, three years have come and gone. And, as result of millions of Americans standing up and fighting back, all of these policies and more are now supported by a majority of Americans,” he said.

Mr. Sanders did not immediately announce where he would campaign first, nor did he disclose any staffing decisions for his political operation. His senior advisers have been spending the weeks leading up to the announcement attempting to recruit a more diverse array of aides than were on his earlier campaign.

A sensation in 2016, Mr. Sanders is facing a far different electoral landscape this time around. Unlike his last bid for the White House, when he was the only liberal challenger to an establishment-backed front-runner, he will be contending with a crowded and diverse field of candidates, including popular Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts who have adopted his populist mantle.

Victories in the 2018 midterm election by women, minorities and first-time candidates also suggest that many Democrats may prefer fresh energy, something that skeptics believe Mr. Sanders could struggle to deliver. A 77-year-old whose left-wing message has remained largely unchanged in his decades-long career, Mr. Sanders will also need to improve his support from black voters and quell the unease about his campaign’s treatment of women that has been disclosed in recent news accounts, and that has prompted two public apologies.

Yet almost immediately after making his announcement, Mr. Sanders drew criticism for his response to Vermont Public Radio when asked if he thought he best represented the current Democratic Party.

“We have got to look at candidates, you know, not by the color of their skin, not by their sexual orientation or their gender and not by their age,” Mr. Sanders said. “I think we have got to try to move us toward a nondiscriminatory society which looks at people based on their abilities, based on what they stand for.”

The Trump re-election campaign issued a statement about Mr. Sanders that reflected the president’s strategy of labeling his Democratic opponents as “socialists.” The press secretary for the Trump campaign, Kayleigh McEnany, said Mr. Sanders had already won the Democratic debate because “every candidate is embracing his brand of socialism.” The statement also criticized Mr. Sanders for supporting higher taxes on wealthy Americans to help finance “Medicare for all.”

In an interview on CBS This Morning, Mr. Sanders did not shy away from calling himself a democratic socialist.

Mr. Trump, Mr. Sanders said, is “going to say, ‘Bernie Sanders wants the United States to become Venezuela.'”

“Bernie Sanders does not want to have the United States become the horrific economic situation that unfortunately exists in Venezuela right now,” he said. “What Bernie Sanders wants is to learn from countries around the world why other countries are doing a better job of dealing with income and wealth inequality than we are.”


Asked in his interview with CBS what would be different about this presidential run compared to 2016, Mr. Sanders replied bluntly: “We’re going to win.”

“Bottom line,” he said, “it is absolutely imperative that Donald Trump be defeated.” Though he had harsh words for the president, he said he was fond of the five other senators who were running for the Democratic nomination. “They are in some cases my friends,” he said in the interview, which was broadcast shortly after his Tuesday announcement.

With his booming voice and familiar wide-armed grip at the lectern, Mr. Sanders has long positioned himself as a champion of the working class and a passionate opponent of Wall Street and the moneyed elite. His remarks often include diatribes against “the millionaihs and billionaihs” — one of his most common refrains is that the “three wealthiest people in America own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent” — as well as denunciations of “super PACs” and the influence of big money on politics. In particular, he has sharply criticized Amazon and Walmart over their wages and treatment of workers.

Here’s the Sanders campaign video:

The fact that Sanders is running again hardly comes as a surprise, of course.  In many respects, he hasn’t really scaled back his national presence in the media and on the campaign trail from what it was during the 2016 campaign. Last year he concentrated on traveling to states where candidates that support his agenda and the so-called “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party notwithstanding the fact that he is not officially a member of the Democratic Party and has, as he has done in the past, turned down the nomination of the Vermont Democratic Party and run solely as a so-called independent even though his voting record is as much in line with the Senate Democratic Caucus as the most loyal member of that party. Throughout all of these visits, though, it has been clear that Sanders has been trying to keep himself in the national conversation in the Democratic Party as he ponders whether or not he will actually run in 2020, when he would be 79 years old and 83 years old at the end of a hypothetical first term in office in the event he actually won the election.

As with other candidates and potential candidates such as Joe Bide, 2020 is Sanders’ best and last shot at becoming President. He is, as I noted above 77 years old and would be 79 when running for President, 83 at the end of a hypothetical first term, and 87 at the end of a second term. He is older than any of the other potential candidates, including Warren and former Vice-President Joe Biden. If he does want to run, either for a realistic shot at the nomination or for the purpose of advancing his agenda, then this would be his last hurrah. At the same time, though,  it’s likely 2020 will end up being a far different race for Sanders than 2016 was. Back then, he had nobody competing for the votes and support of the progressive wing of the party. This time, he’ll have plenty of competition from younger candidates such as  Kirsten GillibrandJulian CastroTulsi GabbardKamala HarrisElizabeth WarrenAmy Klobuchar, and Cory Booker. Several of the lesser-known declared candidates, such as South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Maryland Congressman John Delaney are also likely to appeal for support from the progressive wing of the party. Bernie could also find himself dealing with other candidates likely to seek the support of the same base he courted in 2016, including Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkeley, Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton, California Congressman Eric Swalwell, New York City Mayor Bill Delblasio, and many others. Finally, Sanders is likely to face more scrutiny from reporters than he did in 2020, including questions about allegations of sexual harassment among his staff that was essentially swept under the rug. Add into this the fact that Democrats will likely be looking for a candidate that can both unite the party’s base and attract the voters in places such as the Midwest where Hillary Clinton essentially lost the election three years ago. Sanders doesn’t seem as if he’d be the right candidate for that job.  Because of this Sanders will find 2020 to be a much tougher fight than 2016 was. (On the other side of the argument, Clare Malone at FiveThirtyEight details a scenario under which Sanders could win the nomination.)

From my point of view, it seems to me as if Bernie’s time has passed. In 2016, he succeeded largely because of a combination of the fact that he was a dynamic speaker and the fact that he offered a far different vision than Hillary Clinton did, one that appealed both to the growing progressive wing of the party and to younger college-age voters who comprised many of his supporters at the time. He was, in other words, the primary, and eventually the only alternative in the Democratic race to the center-left positions that Clinton took during what was mostly a “play it safe” campaign on her part that avoided stark positions and sought to make the argument that she was the best candidate for November based primarily on her experience. While most Democrats agreed, there was obviously a lot of disdain for center-left Clintonian politics in the Democratic Party. As a result of his sucess, the Democratic Party has been significantly changed, and that change means that he isn’t going to be the only candidate in the race pushing the themes and policies that he advocates. That means that, if he’s going to succeed he’s going to need to find a way to convince voters why he’s the better candidate among a field that will largely be agreeing with him. Factor into this his age, and the fact that many Democrats blame him and his supporters for not sufficiently rallying behind Clinton after the 2016 Convention, and thus contributing in some ways to her loss, and it seems as though Bernie’s time has passed and that it’s time for him to pass on the progressive torch to a younger generation.


FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Climate Change, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. PJ says:

    Sanders got his check from Putin.


  2. KM says:

    Goddamnit Bernie.

    You’re not going to win this. You’re not. All you’re going to do is bring out the nutcase BernieBros who “will vote for a woman but not THAT woman!!” and purity ponies who will sit it out rather not vote for the fan fav. I see nothing but damage in your wake – you bring little to nothing that anyone else already running has. Why not serve as an adviser to one of the current runners and push them towards your positions as that’s arguably the best way to get them accomplished?

    I know you like the attention but I’m going to pass along the same “advice” that was given to Clinton: go away, it’s over. You had several chances and couldn’t seal the deal and it’s far too important to get Trump out of office to risk another vanity project. Let it go man – you’re not going to be President Sanders and we all know it.

  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I’m a native Vermonter.
    I’ve met Bernie. I like Bernie.
    Having said that…what an arrogant bastard.
    He’s never going to be elected.
    And, like last time, he will likely help Dennison get elected.
    Go away Bernie.

  4. Gromitt Gunn says:


    Want to run as a Democrat? Become one.

    No? Then go away.

  5. Tyrell says:

    Sanders finds himself in the curious position of being to the right when we hear of some of the Democrat’s proposals:
    “income for those who don’t want to work”
    “abolish air travel”
    “we’ll just pay for it” (tax increases)

  6. Liberal Capitalist says:

    With the passing of Lyndon LaRouche, I say: Why deny the millennials their own perennial candidate!

    Let Bernie join the ranks of LaRouche, Gloria La Riva and Pat Paulsen!

    … as long as he doesn’t f’it up AFGAIN for the Dems.

    (That’s right… I’m lookin’ at YOU, Bernie Bros. Thank you for making American a laghing stock of the world. Morons.)

  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


    Sanders finds himself in the curious position of being to the right when we hear of some of the Democrat’s proposals:
    “income for those who don’t want to work”
    “abolish air travel”
    “we’ll just pay for it” (tax increases)


  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:
    Though a Repug, you forgot the king of perennial presidential candidates Harold Stassen.

  9. Todd says:

    I think Bernie is going to quickly discover that the behavior of many of his supporters in the late summer and fall of 2016, after Clinton had secured the nomination will have consequences. There are many, many people such as myself who voted for Sanders in the 2016 primary who will NEVER even consider doing so this time around.

    I predict that Sander will drop out of the race shortly after the March 3rd California primary … if he even lasts that long.

  10. Jen says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Technically speaking, the first item on that list is a position that at least one Democrat is taking. Andrew Yang is running on a Universal Basic income for all platform. He’s been in New Hampshire quite a bit. The broader public is probably not quite as aware of him as a candidate.

  11. Facebones says:

    I think Bernie has yet to realize that a big chunk of his support came from people who just didn’t want to vote for Hillary, and he was the only viable alternative. (Sorry, Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Webb)

    Now, there are younger and more charismatic candidates who share his views. He’d have been better off playing kingmaker. “I’ll tell my base of hardcore devotees to support the candidate who can commit to economic justice, green new deal, etc.”

  12. Ben Wolf says:

    No elderly jew can defeat the power of Meaty O’ Stork. Sanders needs to walk it back and know his place, behind the avian-irish candidates.

  13. Kathy says:


    He was on a recent episode of the Freakonomics podcast. As I recall, he’d tax tech firms for using their users’ data and distribute the revenue as UBI. Or something like that. Which isn’t exactly a bad idea.

    As I also recall, he claimed that calling UBI a “Freedom Dividend,”gets lots of republicans on board. I’m skeptical of that.

    As to Bernie, he should run fast, and run far away from us.

  14. charon says:

    Guy who refuses to release his taxes?

    Post-Trump, how does that play?

  15. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @KM: We are the Boomers and Silents. For us, it’s never over until we’re in the ground. Get used to it.

  16. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Ooh, good catch! I’d forgotten him, too!

  17. Gustopher says:

    Sanders created a rift in the party last time out, and didn’t do anything to try to mend it. He might not feel any obligation to do so, since he’s not a member of the party, but I’m not really ok with that.

    Joining the Democratic Party would have been a big symbolic step in healing that rift.

    I would like the requirements for debate inclusion this time out to include membership in the Democratic Party — but that would likely be seen as a deliberate attempt to exclude Sanders rather than to prod him off the fence and into the fold.

    But, until he joins the Democrats, I have no interest in his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. Even Tulsi Gabbard is a Democrat. Ok, if it comes down to those two, somehow, I might vote Bernie.

  18. Gustopher says:

    According to his Wikipedia page, Vermin Supreme is now a member of the Libertarian Party. I think he should switch back to the Democrats. His 2004 campaign, on the importance of dental care, would probably resonate more in a party discussing Medicare for All than the more conservative 2004 party.

    Also, he sounds like an unfortunate entree. “It’s like Chicken Supreme, but with Vermin”

    (I think novelty names are better when they aren’t self-chosen, however, so Hickenlooper and Buttigieg are better. Not sure how I would feel about Dweezle Zappa running for something)

  19. Ben Wolf says:

    Well gosh, if the nine ancient randos of Inside The Beltway demand obeisance to a party they aren’t members of themselves, do you boo!

  20. Michael Venuti says:

    California now requires candidates to release their taxes; I have no idea if Bernie will be doing this. I look forward to him putting up or shutting up.

    My concern is that having too many other candidates dilutes the vote allowing Bernie to do a Trump and win with his sold core. I’m convinced he’s the only Dem that Trump (or Pence) could beat.

  21. Tyrell says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: As has been mentioned by another person here, Andrew Yang, a NYC presidential candidate said he’s pushing universal basic income.
    The “Green New Deal” = “enviro – socialism” (US Chamber of Commerce). Almost, if not all, Democratic candidates for president have endorsed this hare-brained pipe dream.
    “Even Democrats are Wary of Green New Deal …… out of touch with reality” (Dan Eberhart, Forbes)
    “If you’re not working, and I’m not working; then who is working?”

  22. al Ameda says:

    Dear Bernie,

    Do you plan to dump that phony ‘Independent’ appellation and become an actual Democrat? Oh, never mind, I’m not going to vote for you anyway.

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Ben Wolf: Talk to your doctor about what’s going on with your mind. It may be that there are treatments that you don’t realize are available. I’m serious.

  24. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:


    Almost, if not all, Democratic candidates for president have endorsed this hare-brained pipe dream. [Green New Deal ]


    “Even Democrats are Wary of Green New Deal …… out of touch with reality” (Dan Eberhart, Forbes)

    Are contradictory. You need to pick one and then rethink your thesis so that you can fully explain why GND is whatever you might believe it to be.

    But I am working, so I don’t know what this sentence means either. Again, work on your message–first make it clear in your own mind–and then make another try at posting.

  25. wr says:

    @Ben Wolf: I think Ben Wolf’s brain has finally broken under the strain of memorizing all that Stalinist agit-prop.