The DNC has recently approved some structural reforms, many which are suspect in several ways IMHO, but a particularly interesting one is the following (ignore the pen markings, just read the second paragraph):

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The DNC chair will now have the authority to determine whether a candidate is a "bona fide Democrat", and is faithful to the interests, welfare and success of the Democratic party.

Well, despite some actions to the contrary, US Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt) is, well, an I, not a D. And he's not, to my knowledge, a member of the Democratic party of Vermont. You could discuss at length whether he does or doesn't count as a Democrat and whether he meets the criteria of that rule. But that doesn't matter, because the person who decides this is Chairperson Tom Perez, who was active in Clinton's campaign against Sanders, has purged some Sanders supporters from various DNC committees, etc. And if he wanted to, he could definitely make the argument that Sanders doesn't pass muster.

So is this the Sanders-killer rule? Or perhaps a means of pressuring him into better compliance with party dictates? Or - am I mis-interpreting things?

1 Answer 1


There is a change in process but no change in intent from the 2016 and 2012 conventions. Here is the relevant text from 2016

The term “presidential candidate” herein shall mean any person who, as determined by the National Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, has accrued delegates in the nominating process and plans to seek the nomination, has established substantial support for his or her nomination as the Democratic candidate for the Office of the President of the United States, is a bona fide Democrat whose record of public service, accomplishment, public writings and/or public statements affirmatively demonstrates that he or she is faithful to the interests, welfare and success of the Democratic Party of the United States, and will participate in the Convention in good faith.

What has changed is that candidates have to actively affirm, in writing, that they agree to these conditions, previously it was just a rule that applied to candidates, but they didn't need to sign something that said they complied.

As such the DNC has not barred Sanders from standing for the Presidency. Sanders has previously shown that when there are requirements to affiliate with a party (such as exist to appear on the ballot for the New Hampshire Primary) he is willing to affiliate with the Democrats.

  • That is not all that has changed. Before, it was a requirement in principle; now, the DNC chair can specifically throw someone out. Also - IIANM, he is not affiliated with the Democratic party in Vermont, hence the VT-I rather than VT-D. But +1 nonetheless.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 11:49
  • 2
    @einpoklum You're mistaken. Sanders has consistently run in the Democratic Primary for the senate. He wins, rejects the nomination, runs as an independent, and the Democratic party has no replacement nominee to compete against him. A state of affairs the Vermont Democratic Party has come to accept, both formally (it's consistent with their rules) and informally (he's the one they'd want to vote for, anyway), though not everyone's always been happy with it. He also caucuses with the Democrats, endorses Democrats, etc. Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 13:45
  • One of the links mentions that Vermont does not have voter registration. I'll note that in 2006, after he stood as an independent, the vermont democratic party endorsed him and didn't put up a candidate. Vermont doesn't do voter registration, (so nobody in VT can be a registered Democrat) but he stands in the democrat primary, and is endorsed by the Democrats.
    – James K
    Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 13:50
  • @zibadawatimmy: That is an extremely weird arrangement. I did not know that, and if I had I probably would have thought I'm remembering it wrong. But then, I could never understand the rationale of the US "party" system, where that term is used very loosely.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 13:54
  • @JamesK What do you mean VT doesn't have voter registration? You can register here sec.state.vt.us/elections/voters/registration.aspx
    – Andy
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 1:11

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