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Bernie Sanders' real campaign is just getting started

Of all the cringeworthy insta-narratives framed by horse-race journalists during the presidential campaign, the Bernie-Sanders-needs-to-fall-in-line meme easily takes the top spot.

This predictable, singular focus on electoral politics confirmed pundits and politicians still live in BBR—Before Bernie's Revolution-when a plurality of voters' predominant concern was the upcoming election.

Of course, voters and activists wanted Sanders to win the White House, but that goal never surpassed their burning desire for real change rather than political platitudes presidential candidates have long used to tantalize Americans. This, after all, is one of Sanders' historic campaign's major legacies.

And there's one man who's known this since April 29th, 2015: Bernie Sanders. Unlike most presidential candidates, when the wily Vermont Senator announced his presidential bid, he never thought in the microscopic terms of White House or bust.

Up against the entire national, state, and local Democratic establishment, Sanders knew toppling the Clinton machine would be a Herculean accomplishment that might not be reached.

Now he's ready for the real campaign—one that has nothing to do with becoming president.

In an online town hall two weeks ago and a subsequent rally in New York City June 23, Sanders spoke indignantly about the current political moment having to be about more than defeating Donald Trump, vowing to keep fighting for the progressive policies he's championed—as well as for state and local candidates who'll do the same.

Whether the Democrats adopt an uber-progressive convention platform or not, if anyone thinks Sanders' truly expects Hillary Clinton or the party to honor such a document, I've got a bridge to sell you.

Look no further than the 2012 Democratic platform, which said, "We believe we must take immediate action to curb the influence of lobbyists and special interests on our political institutions."

Here's the immediate action Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic Party took: continuing to bankroll themselves by Wall Street donors and special interest donors and reversing the eight-year ban on donations from lobbyists and Super Pacs to the DNC.

Platform power indeed!

"At an energetic 74, who can't envision Sanders traveling across the country to speak out loud and proud against whatever regressive 'bipartisan compromise' Clinton and Republicans have reached in front of crowds packed by the thousands."

Sanders isn't angling for his progressive policies to show up in the platform because he thinks a potential President Clinton will start aggressively trying to deliver on them on day one of her presidency.

No, this is about paving the road for the return of Senator Bernie Sanders, a much more influential—and potentially threatening—force who'll serve as a quasi-check and balance once Clinton shifts from the "progressive who gets things done" back to her natural neoliberal, neocon self.

Sure, Senator Sanders will initially strike the right note with a potential President Clinton, saying all the right things in Oval Office meetings about working together and imparting his wisdom from three decades in Congress.

But the moment Clinton starts her inevitable "pivot" to moderate governance—also known as lying about what you believe when you're a candidate—Sanders will engage in some familiar behavior that sprung him onto the national scene in the first place.

Get ready for the inevitable Sanders filibuster (circa 2010's Bush-tax cut extension barn burner) the moment President Clinton signals openness to "tweaking"—aka cutting—Social Security.

Or when President Clinton sends 1000 "special advisers"—aka as ground troops—to Syria or Iran.

Or when President Clinton appoints another corporate-friendly Supreme Court Justice with no concern over Citizens United.

Only this time, he'll have at his disposal millions of the troops he's inspired during the campaign at the ready; available to do everything from storm Capitol Hill in protest to apply pressure on the neoliberal Democratic establishment members representing them around the country.

Sanders won't stop at filibustering. He's the first politician to realize campaigning doesn't have to stop when an electoral campaign does.

At an energetic 74, who can't envision Sanders traveling across the country to speak out loud and proud against whatever regressive "bipartisan compromise" Clinton and Republicans have reached in front of crowds packed by the thousands.

And for a media void of the never-ending political news a presidential election provides, TV and digital outlets won't be able to ignore Sanders' ongoing movement if thousands, potentially millions, join him in person—and on social media.

The fate of the 2016 campaign is far from being known. A lot can happen from now until November that could stop Hillary Clinton from becoming president; hell, maybe even Donald Trump as well.

But, judging by his actions since the Democratic Primary officially ended, one thing is certain.

Bernie Sanders is just getting started.

Commentary by Jordan Chariton, a political reporter for The Young Turks, reporting on the presidential campaign trail. He can be seen on TYT Politics. Before TYT, Jordan was a reporter for TheWrap and TVNewser. Follow him on Twitter @JordanChariton.

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