Typically running as an Independent in the general election is not something I’d recommend a liberal candidate do. It has the potential to hand the opposing party the nomination come November. However, if this election has proven anything- it’s that it is unlike previous contests. Clinton and Trump both have historically high unfavorability ratings, and Clinton’s indictment is still an ominous possibility. Top that with the surge of young voters and independents that have coalesced behind Sanders, and an independent run might not seem as impossible as before.
This post doesn’t aim to count Sanders out yet; the contest isn’t over and Sanders has asserted that he will fight until the DNC this summer. I encourage supporters to continue voting for and working with the Sanders campaign. However, we should also be honest in acknowledging that Sanders has an incredibly narrow path to victory. I think that a Sanders vice presidency might help to sway Clinton on several issues, but I’m not entirely sure that she’d take Sanders as her VP pick (even if she should). As previously stated, with the potential of indictment looming overhead it may perhaps be safer for Sanders to run as an independent.
Even if Sanders were to lose the general election, if he does well enough, he would inevitably start a dialogue (in many ways he already has) about independents and the problems with a two-party structure. For now, the idea of Bernie as an independent candidate is far off, but it’s certainly something to think about if he can’t clinch the nomination come this summer.