In 2020, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., will be 79 years old. According to a recent report published in The Hill, he may still be considering another presidential bid, presumably once again using the Democratic Party as his vehicle.
During his 2016 presidential primary run against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sanders faced a high climb for African-American votes. Due to his poor performance with African-American Democratic voters, some of Sanders’ advisers are urging him to become more visible and responsive to them, particularly in the South.
But if he does ultimately decide to run again in 2020, Sanders may find his presidential aspirations, unlike fine wine or champagne, don’t get any better with age.
Clearly, it won’t be a walk in the park for Sanders to generate interest among African Americans for a 2020 presidential bid. Granted, African American voters will have a greater awareness of Sanders in 2020, but not necessarily in the way he hopes they will. Most of them will primarily remember him for what he did throughout the 2016 presidential election: That is, in the end for helping to elect President Trump.
Sanders is neither a registered Democrat nor a loyal one. That makes it unseemly for any Democrat with national visibility to help pave the way for Sanders in 2020, once again trying to hand the Democratic nomination to a non-believer in the Democratic Party.
As a backdrop to the disappointment over the last election, the message from Democrats and the Democratic National Committee should not include a retreat from intellectual honesty or a lurch toward political revisionism about his past. As an Independent who is regularly critical of the Democratic Party and its leadership, Sanders should not be viewed as a credible spokesman for the party or an honest advocate for its positive political principles benefitting all Americans.
During Sanders’ quest for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination, I challenged his access to the District of Columbia Democratic Party primary ballotbecause his petition was not filed timely. His ballot access was rescued by emergency legislation passed by the Council of the District of Columbia. And I must say, most of the emails and tweets I received at the time from Sanders’ supporters matched or surpassed the angry tweets of Trump himself.
When I ran as a candidate for national chairman of the DNC, I spoke truth at the Baltimore DNC Chair Candidates Forum when I said many Democrats got mad at the Democratic presidential primary results and walked away from the DNC presidential nominee last November. They did so to the detriment of themselves, the Democratic Party and the American people.
Sanders will be remembered in history and in 2020 for helping to elect Trump as president. We are all called to forgive, but spiritual forgiveness and political forgetfulness are not the same thing. Democrats don’t owe Sanders the latter.
Robert Vinson Brannum is a community activist in the District of Columbia, a former elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, Chairman Emeritus of the Ward 5 Democratic Committee and President Emeritus of the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations, Inc.