Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders finished 2010 with a filibuster that
highlighted his differences with the Obama administration when it comes
to economic policy.
While Obama agreement to extend tax breaks for billionaires while
establishing a massive estate-tax exemption for millionaires steered his
presidency further and further from the moorings of the New Deal,
Sanders – though he serves as an Independent member of the Senate
Democratic Caucus rather than an actual member of the president’s party –
maintained a fierce and unyielding commitment to the values outlined by
Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and the Democrats who once defined
their party as the champion of working Americans.
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So stark was the contrast that activists across the country started
talking up the notion of a “Sanders for President” run in 2012, either
as a dissident Democrat in the primaries or as a left-leaning
Independent. Rabbi Michael Lerner put the democratic socialist senator’s
name at the top of a list of prospective primary challengers, while a “Draft Bernie Sanders for President” website appeared with a declaration that:
“If you believe America needs a strong independent voice in the
presidential race bringing progressive ideas back into the national
conversation — ideas that are no longer being discussed because
President Barack Obama’s version of “hope and change” has turned out to
be mostly politics as usual and capitulation to conservative Republicans
— then we encourage you to support the Draft Sanders effort. Senator
Sanders is a credible, experienced political leader who has spent his
career fighting for progressive values and policies.”
Economist David Korten signed on,
with a message to Sanders: “To counter the Republican assault on the
middle class, the working poor, and the unemployed, we need a real
leader who will back his words with action. We’ve had enough empty
rhetoric about hope… We need you.”
Korten tweeted: “Join me in supporting the Draft Bernie Sanders movement.”
And hundreds did, signing online petitions asking the senator to run.
The talk got serious enough that pollsters quietly began to add Sanders’ name to surveys in key primary states.
But Sanders won’t do it.
Asked about the prospect of a presidential run in a several year-end
interviews with print and broadcast media outlets, his answer was to
take the idea "off the table."
On Vermont's WCAX-TV, the senator said: "You will be the first to know: ain't gonna do it.”
Declaring himself "very proud to be Vermont's senator,” Sanders said: "I
am very content to be where I am, but I am flattered by that kind of