Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has vowed to help steer Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s potential presidency in as progressive a direction as possible.
While Sanders has endorsed his former primary rival, he has indicated he will be unafraid to defy and agitate her policies if she becomes commander-in-chief.
After conceding the Democratic primary to Clinton, Sanders worked with her campaign to help fashion a more liberal Democratic platform.
On Oct. 24, Sanders told The Washington Post that he considers his top obligation in a potential Clinton administration to be “to demand that the Democratic Party implement that platform.”
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Sanders has indicated that he will agitate and press the Clinton administration if she backs away from platform commitments such as a $15 federal minimum wage or tuition-free public college, reports Business Insider. In the Vermont senator’s view, he will have a great deal of leverage during a Clinton presidency.
“The leverage that I think I take into the Senate is taking on the entire Democratic Party establishment, and, you know, taking on a very powerful political organization with the Clinton people,” Sanders said.
“We won 22 states ... and a majority of the younger people, the future of the country ... That gives me a lot of leverage, leverage that I intend to use,” Sanders added.
It does not hurt that Sanders may be the most popular lawmaker in the country. A survey conducted by Morning Consult found that Sanders had higher approval ratings in his state than any other senator, with 87 percent support among Vermont residents.
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The first potential battle between Clinton and Sanders, if she is elected, could arrive as early as her cabinet appointments. Sanders stated that if he disapproves of Clinton’s appointees, “I will be vigorously in opposition, and I will make that very clear.”
Far-left advocates are already eyeing the 15 cabinet positions that Clinton could fill and are expressing eagerness for Sanders or Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to pressure her into selecting as progressive appointees as possible.
“Personnel is policy,” former Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich told The New York Times. A former appointee during President Bill Clinton's administration, Reich believes that the discussion among far-left Democrats to shape Clinton’s cabinet “have already begun.”
The Clinton campaign has indicated that the former secretary of state would make bipartisan goals, such as immigration reform and infrastructure investment, the top priorities of her first 100 days in office. Sanders has indicated he will not settle on a bill he finds insufficient, even if Republicans are willing to vote for it.
“It’s not good enough for me, or anybody, to say, ‘Well, look, Republicans control the House: From day one, we’re going to have to compromise,’” Sanders said. “The Democratic Party, before they start compromising, has got to rally the American people around our ideas and make it clear that if Republicans do not go along ... they are going to pay a very heavy political price.”
Sanders added that if Democrats retake control over the Senate after the November election, he will lobby hard to be placed as chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, where he would have heavy influence on the federal minimum wage and health care.