Bernie Sanders made history as the most successful first-time Presidential candidate not to end up with the nomination.
He went from a little-known but locally dominant independent Senator in Vermont to securing just under half of America's Democratic primary votes, making economic inequality his primary focus and challenging the establishment political system. Since the election he's maintained his position as primary foil of the cartoon billionaire currently occupying the White House and has long maintained the distinction of being the most popular political figure in the nation. Just Wednesday he hosted an online town hall on the topic of Universal Healthcare and got a staggering 1.1 million people watching live. He introduced a universal healthcare bill in 2013 with zero co-authors - now he has sixteen, including young-gun Democratic senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.
So with all this momentum, what's a prominent voice of the opposition party to do? Mull things over, and it seems this week they did just that.
Sanders aides told him: you'll be a front-runner if you run, and it's time to start serious planning.— Gabriel Debenedetti (@gdebenedetti) January 25, 2018
He told them: I haven't decided, but beating Trump is the most important thing we can do. And I want to be ready if I do decide to go.https://t.co/Xv1qeXmtST
Scoop @gdebenedetti: Sanders convened his top political advisers on Saturday for a planning meeting that included a discussion of the feasibility and shape of a possible 2020 campaign, six senior Dems familiar with the gathering confirmed to POLITICO. https://t.co/cyVF240eIE— Carrie Budoff Brown (@cbudoffbrown) January 25, 2018
He's consistently refused to rule out a second campaign, keeping his options open and his priorities squarely on overwhelmingly popular ideas like Medicare for All, fighting income inequality, and electoral reform. According to top Democrats close to the Senator, the meeting in question wasn't called solely to discuss a Sanders 2020 campaign and that it was one in a series of talks on the Democratic left's plans for 2018 - retaking the House and the Senate from the Republicans and stopping Trump.
We're a long ways away from the 2020 campaign, but serious candidates have to take a long approach and Sanders isn't the kind of politician who teases his audience. And there's really no need for him to be coy about it - Sanders has kept in the spotlight and consequently his supporters haven't let off their enthusiasm one bit.
There’s no real downside to this. At very least it keeps left pressure on everyone else running. Either he doesn’t get the nod, or he does and he picks whichever of the much younger, non white guy candidates has the best showing as VP. He would beat Trump. https://t.co/KhbwoisTFu— David Klion (@DavidKlion) January 26, 2018
Betty White is 96 today and that's basically the best argument for why Bernie can totally run in 2020.— NeoliBro Antagonist (@briebriejoy) January 18, 2018
Wow! The 8% of Democrats who don't approve of Sanders sure are making their voices heard on this thread... what's the opposite of "silent majority"?— Max Singer🌹 (@maxsingerinidy) January 25, 2018
Granted, this is politics and there are some folks out there who don't care for Senator Sanders.
Divisive after 2016. We a need new, younger, candidate. I really like him as a Senator just not as Democratic candidate. Had he joined the party and did more for down ticket candidates I'd be more supportive. If the majority picks I'll support.— 🌺Roxanne🌺 (@rxflg) January 26, 2018
Here's how bernie can succeed in 2020: [i pull out a large hunting knife, point it towards myself, & stab myself in the stomach without flinching. i pull it out, point it at another point on my body, & stab again. i repeat this 25 times while making unbroken eye contact with you]— Неоновый Генезис Евангелион (@DOGGEAUX) January 26, 2018
White men I don't want to run for Dem POTUS nomination in 2020:— emptywheel (@emptywheel) January 25, 2018
Anyone I'm missing?
Bernie Sanders has an INCREDIBLE chance of becoming President in 2020....... in Venezuela!— J. Mannarino (@MannarinoJoey) January 26, 2018
Still though, the millennial-driven meme library in his favor is pretty strong.
And this is, of course, still very early. But it's a clear message that a heavyweight is in the game.