The writing on the wall was there for at least three weeks now; but it took an uncertainty in the future of the Democratic presidential politics for Senator Bernie Sanders to finally realise that his political show will not be successful and the best option therefore would be to fold or “suspend” the campaign.
“I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful…We are now some 300 delegates behind Vice President Biden and the path to victory is virtually impossible,” Sanders said in wrapping up his race to the White House that has certainly left a mark on the Democratic Party and the styles and rigors of political campaigning.
Sanders quits, but his legacy will stay
It was undoubtedly a painful exit for the Senator from Vermont who only in February, after his stunning victories in New Hampshire and Nevada, seemed to have everything locked up in his favour. But it was the right thing to do.
Senator Sanders did what few Democratic aspirants to the White House have not done—put the fear of God in front runners and the party establishment who did not want to strain themselves thinking out of the box.
In 2016 he delivered political blows to the front runner during the course of the campaign trail and kept Hillary Clinton on tenterhooks till about the eve of the National Convention; the story was no different in 2020 when the former Vice President and Senate colleague Joseph Biden was pushed to the third and fourth spots in the initial stages of the primaries and caucuses. For a person who vowed to create a “new class” of voters, Sanders overcame a major health issue in October 2019 to give the now assured Democratic nominee a run for his money.
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Even at the time of signing off, Sanders’ campaign war chest is very comfortable till time of the Party Convention this August in Milwaulee, Wisconsin. But the coronavirus outbreak had to put a big question mark on the entire process—first raising doubts as to whether the remaining states would be able to go through their primaries/caucuses process; and then posing the big question as to whether the Convention will even take place, given the kind of crowd it was expected to draw and the social distancing norms now being advocated.
A stubborn but a decent man had to throw in the towel at some point even if he had realised some three weeks ago that he was 300 delegates down and little chance to recover.
“Bernie has done something rare in politics. He hasn’t just run a political campaign; he’s created a movement. And make no mistake about it, I believe it’s a movement that is as powerful today as it was yesterday. That’s a good thing for our nation and our future”, said Biden going on to make the point that the Vermonter has always been a “passionate voice for progress” and stood for causes and issues that he had dedicated to all his life.
But Senator Sanders also had to quit at a time to make the most of what he has been fighting for so that some or all of it could be incorporated in the Democratic Party/ Biden agenda for November 2020— medicare for all, free education at universities and colleges, fair trade, universal childcare, student educational loans, to mention a few. Also the Independent Senator would want to see some of his senior staffers in a Biden dispensation in Washington D.C. so as to keep his legacy going.
Sigh of relief for Trump
The Democratic Party establishment must have undoubtedly heaved a sigh of relief now that Sanders is out of the way. There was a lot of unease in the party on the fashion in which Sanders’ agenda was being portrayed in conservative and right wing circles—as some kind of an extreme loony socialist/communist ideas— which could serve as an easy scare tactic for the incumbent Republican President whose strong points are neither facts nor logic. That said a good many Democrats were also uncomfortable with the word “free”, as for instance favoring “affordable” as opposed to “free” education. Still, between now and November the Democrats will have to weave a domestic policy platform that would have to factor in what Sanders has been talking about and pushing since 2016.
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President Trump must be thanking his stars that he is not up against Bernie Sanders this November; Trump’s refrain in a tweet that Senator Elizabeth Warren is responsible for the Vermonter’s fall only reflects the simplistic understanding of Democratic politics by the Oval Office occupant. In heart of heart Trump must be rejoicing in the fact that he did not have to face the “committed” youth of Sanders this Fall, something the former Vice President Biden does not have.
And this is precisely what Biden needs to work on—connecting with Sanders’ base– between now and election if there is to be any meaningful shot at the White House. The coronavirus may have given President Trump a five per cent bump to make it an even fifty-fifty approval and disapproval rating; but it is a long way to go between now and the only poll that matters on November 3, 2020!
(The writer was a former senior journalist in Washington DC covering North America and the United Nations)
(The Federal seeks to present views and opinions from all sides of the spectrum. The information, ideas or opinions in the articles are of the author and do not reflect the views of The Federal)