(CNN) — Bernie Sanders took his long-running fight with the Democratic Party establishment very public Friday night, hours after news broke that Russia is working to help his 2020 primary bid and hours before the critical Nevada caucuses.
The timing of that tweet seems not to be an accident.
And then, Sanders tweeted — making very clear that he views himself as at war with the establishments of both parties. As expected, it brought a considerable, and considerably negative, response from the so-called party establishment.
The truth is that for as long as Sanders has been running for president — including in the 2016 race — there has been a not-so-secret war between the Democratic establishment and Sanders, his campaign and his supporters.
It all played into — in the minds of Sanders and his supporters — the idea that something was going on. They weren’t — and aren’t — entirely sure what that something is or who is behind it, but they are certain it’s there. And it’s because Sanders has created a movement that isn’t dependent on the party — and, in fact, has been formed in direct opposition to the establishment.
To be clear: Sanders isn’t totally wrong! There are lots and lots of longtime Democratic political professionals who believe that nominating a self-proclaimed democratic socialist is a recipe for disaster for their side.
And even Sanders’ rivals for the Democratic nomination are seeking to make an issue out of his casual relationship with the party. “Let’s put forth someone who is actually a Democrat,” Buttigieg said in Wednesday night’s debate in Las Vegas.
What Sanders’ tweet Friday night will do is simply make the existing dynamic in this race much more obvious: There is Sanders and the battle to be the establishment alternative to Sanders. That’s it.
Now Sanders has said it — and thrown down the gauntlet. Can the establishment fight back and win?