Senator Bernie Sanders is a bona fide progressive hero at the peak of his political powers. Having made two consecutive presidential runs, Sanders’s name is naturally emerging as a prospective candidate for 2024. The only problem is, unlike in 2016 and 2020, there is a Democratic incumbent with a term of eligibility remaining. Yet, the Democratic incumbent, President Joe Biden, has still not declared his candidacy for 2024 – hypothetically leaving the door open, prompting the question: will Bernie Sanders run again?
Bernie Sanders: Would He Run Again?
The likelihood that Sanders runs for president again is low. The going expectation is that Biden will run for reelection – in which case, Sanders will almost certainly not run. Sanders could run to the left of Biden and force a contested primary a la Ted Kennedy against incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980 – but don’t count on it. Sanders is a progressive and an independent but he has shown hesitancy to step too far out of line in the past, for fear that he might do something to bolster Republican chances of earning the White House. After losing the 2016 primary to Hillary Clinton, for example, Sanders fell into line and endorsed Hillary, rather than make a stink that had the potential to bolster Trump’s chances.
But again, Biden hasn’t declared his candidacy yet. And it’s certainly possible Biden decides not to run. The guy is 80 years old. So, would Sanders run if Biden does not? It’s possible, sure. But don’t count on it. Sanders is also an octogenarian, who hasn’t even committed to running for the Senate again when his current term expires.
“Well, I’ve got a little while to make that determination; I’ll make it at the appropriate time,” Sanders told Stephen Colbert when asked about running for Senate again. Colbert followed up, asking if Sanders had a deadline to make a decision. “Not really,” Sanders answered. “People in Vermont know me, and we have a pretty good relationship. At the appropriate time, we’ll let them know.”
“You answered that like a boyfriend asked where this relationship was going,” Colbert said.
Sanders’s indecision, his conflict, likely stems from the desire to continue pushing a progressive agenda like no one else can, while also recognizing that he has grown too old.
“The truth is that Sanders has yet to convey anything solid to even his inner circle, a group of aides and allies who don’t doubt his commitment to doing the job, his pride at having reached this level of political influence, or his likely unwillingness to let it go voluntarily – but who are equally aware of his age,” New York Magazine reported.
So, Sanders isn’t even guaranteed to campaign to preserve his seat in the Senate. And the likelihood that Sanders runs for president is even lower than the likelihood that he runs for Senate. However, the prospect lingers – especially as Biden keeps pushing his own presidential announcement.
As for Bernie Sanders, don’t expect a concrete announcement anytime soon. “Anyone who expects Sanders to make a definitive announcement soon forgets his famous procrastination and his less-known agonizing about the best way to maximize his political capital,” New York Magazine reported. “Veterans of his two presidential campaigns sometimes still act traumatized about the behind-the-scenes wrangling over an announcement date, both times.”
While it’s hard to imagine Sanders stepping away from the Senate at the peak of his power – power that took decades to accumulate – it seems unlikely the Sanders has a third consecutive presidential run in mind.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.