Let's face it, with each increasing day that passes in the primary season, it becomes increasingly evident that options are beginning to run out for the Bernie camp. Aside from winning the necessary electable delegates from the remaining primary, it seems even less likely that he will be able to sway the now-notorious "Superdelegates" away from Team Clinton. Barring some major meltdown in the Clinton campaign - or an ill-timed announcement of criminal charges - Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for the 2016 Presidential race. And here lies the problem...
Over the past year, Bernie Sanders has gone from unknown, Independent Senator from the forgotten state of Vermont, to quite possibly the most popular scraggly haired senior citizen (who happens to be a Senator from the forgotten state of Vermont) on the planet. He has amassed a cult-ish following from progressive voters of all cuts of cloth. He has a domestic policy message that resounds in all corners of the country. His agenda challenges the status quo, promising accross the board changes to the economic structure, modifications to the election system, and committing to broad social justice reform. However, it appears - despite all of his efforts - his message of legitimate change will fall just short of his desired outcome.
Now, the process of attracting his support to the side of the eventual nominee, Hillary Clinton; party unification isn't a problem that is unique to the GOP. Some "Berners" vow that they will never support a Clinton ticket, others are not as steadfast. In order to the Democratic ticket to outpace a Donald Trump onslaught, there must be a coming together of the two branches of the party. Some suggest the only way to accomplish this is for Clinton to tap Sanders as her running mate. However, I propose, there may there may very well be a "best of both worlds" scenario where both warring factions of the Democratic Party can unite, and it does not end with a Clinton-Sanders pairing in the fall.
The 2016 Election cycle is far more than a presidential election. Pundits, analyst, and politicians on both sides of the aisle have come to a consensus that the congressional alignment of power is in flux, with at least six potential Republican-controlled Senate seats in the balance. This election cycle has the potential to break the GOP stranglehold that has brought the legislative branch to be the unpopular face of political inactivity that it is today. I argue that if Democrats do win the battle of the Senate and become the majority, Bernie Sanders may be the very person to sit at the head the Democratic legislative chambers. Bear with me...
This allows Hillary to be more strategic with her VP pick.
While many would love to see Bernie on the ticket, the pairing isn't exactly ideal. The Democratic nomination process has been particularly ugly this go around, and Bernie hasn't exactly bitten his tongue when it comes to his criticism of Hillary Clinton. In fact, he is the polar opposite of Hillary on the liberal ideological scale. Sanders looming over the shoulder of Hillary would be more a reminder of their differences than sign of unification. Hillary would need to find someone more in line with her message to increase her chances of being elected. With Sanders out of the picture, this would open the door for a more strategic pick, one that would emphasize the weaknesses of the Trump camp with ethnic minorities and/or women, forward her moderate liberal message, and most importantly, act as her Robin instead of fight for the spotlight - Insert Castro, Warren, Kaine, or Booker. This would also give Bernie the opportunity to take on the role of attack dog, one that has proven very capable of assuming over the past three decades in Congress.
He can accomplish far more as Majority Leader
We all can agree, appointing Bernie Sanders as VP would cause the Senate to lose a very powerful progressive voice. While he would technically be President of the Senate, the Vice President is all but a figurehead. Imagine Bernie Sanders taking over for Mitch McConnell as the leading voice of the Senate. Imagine him in control of the legislative docket, bringing judicial and administrative appointees up for confirmation, and appointing membership of committees. Also, Sanders would be the perfect defensive specialist against the - still likely - Republican controlled House. Bernie also becomes the voice of the Democratic Party for the Senate, allowing him to put forth his message in front of the entire American population. Sanders would have the ability to control legitimate policy changes and usher them through the legislative process. Even if he assented to the highest office in the land, there would be no greater opportunity that substantial progressive legislation would be pushed through both chambers of Congress. As Leader, at least he has control of one arm of the legislative process. If the goal of the Bernie followers is to forward a progressive agenda, Senate Majority Leader is a much better, and capable position to make fundamental changes to the government, and the country.
Sanders is a walking compromise
Despite taking on the title of Democrat for this year's election cycle, Bernie has been an Independent for essentially his entire political life. While much of his platform is considered socialist, there are also several aspects - like gun control, for example - where he aligns with the Republican Party. It is in these areas where Sanders can find common ground and end the standstill that has consumed Congress for the past six years. Bernie also has garnered a great deal of respect from his Republican colleagues and has a reputation of being steadfast, honest, and sincere. These personality traits can almost ensure that he would be able to effectively strike a dialogue between the feuding parties. Also, considering his position as an Independent for the past 30 years, he is above the political fray. With the states of the Republican Party rapidly deteriorating, this may further the possibility of compromise returning to the Capitol building.
This is all wishful thinking of course. This hypothetical scenario would require a few things to set the cycle in motion. First, the party - read Berners - would have to shed their hard feelings and come to grips with Clinton at the top of the ticket in 2016. Supporters would then have to defeat trump at the polls and show up in numbers that would flip the Senate. And yes, I understand that Sanders has technically only been a Democrat for all of 18 months. However, if this was to take place, my nomination for the leader of the newly acquired Democratic Majority in the Senate would be Bernie Sanders.