Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is touring the country with new Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez for the "Come Together and Fight Back" campaign to generate newfound enthusiasm among a party that has seen nothing but defeat since November. He’s been a popular figure on the campaign, enjoying adoring cheers while Perez has been getting booed. Yet, there’s one problem with Sanders’s presence on the tour bus – he still doesn’t want to be called a Democrat.
"No, I'm an Independent," Sanders said when asked by MSNBC's Chris Hayes whether he now identifies as a Democrat.
"If the Democratic Party is going to succeed — and I want to see it succeed — it's gonna have to open its door to independents," he continued. "There are probably more independents in this country than Democrats or Republicans. It's got to open its doors to working people and to young people, create a grassroots party. That's what we need."
In the 2016 Democratic primary, Sanders was more apt to self-identify as a democratic socialist. Young progressives ate it up - particularly his anti-Wall Street speeches.
He may not have won the presidential nomination, but Sanders has had an unmistakable effect on the Democratic party. The DNC allowed him to influence their platform to the point it became their most extreme leftist platform yet. Or, as Sanders called it, “progressive.” It included a $15 minimum wage hike, and regulations intended to combat climate change, such as carbon pricing.
He's not done. In Maine this week, Sanders said the party needs to undergo a “radical transformation.”