Bernie Sanders followed suit of his fellow candidates and buried his hopes of becoming America’s 46th president last Wednesday. Sanders, up to March still the favourite to represent the democrats at the elections in November this year, had to give up and thus indirectly acknowledge Joe Biden as the delegate of the party. A hard blow to many young and progressive Americans.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and tucked away between event of horrors, it was there. All of a sudden, Bernie Sanders, had dropped out of the presidential race, leaving Joe Biden up to run against Donald Trump in November. Seeing as the 78-year old democrat was off to quite the perfect start, accumulating a majority of the votes in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, this should have come as a surprise. Unfortunately, it did not.
Promising better healthcare, less class-divide and fixed basic incomes Sanders wanted to rebuild on what he started six years ago. It was then, during those last elections four years ago, where he lost out to another democratic old-school candidate: Hillary Clinton. Now the senator again has to admit defeat, this time to Biden. After the aforementioned good start, Super Tuesday delivered a major blow as Biden, by then backed up by all the democratic candidates who had dropped out, raked up all the representatives in ten out of fourteen states that went voting. To make things even worse, two out of four states that Sanders account the least when added up for final voting results.
Et Tu, Democratic Party?
After the giant deception that was Super Tuesday, Sanders has now decided to suspend his run for presidency of the United States of America. Officially because his plans just did not resemble enough of the daily struggle of the American people, but this seems not to be the sole case. Many voices close to and sometimes even within the democratic party suggest that Sanders would not have been capable of winning against Trump in November anyway. Rather than suffering instant defeat but standing for ideals, the party-leaders rather have an actual shot at winning the elections with a more conservative approach. Some even say Sanders was never favoured to win.
As the elections came closer, it wasn’t so much a two-horse-race anymore; it was a vote for or against Joe Biden.
The withdrawal of Sanders is a hard blow to America’s progressive youth. Especially the more liberal parts of the states (California, New York) supported the ideas of Sanders, but it was by far not enough. Key states filled with working-class voters in the Midwest of the country voted almost unanimously for Biden and the rare citizen who didn’t voted for Sanders not because of his ideas, but out of disgust for Biden. As the elections came closer, it wasn’t so much a two-horse-race anymore. It was a vote for or a vote against Joe Biden.
Ideology Over Rationality
One of Sanders’ main mistakes was never actually claiming to be part of the democratic party. With verbal attacks on the democratic establishment, it automatically became very hard to win the hard-rooted democrat over: by insulting the party, his support crumbled and his competitors were handed an extra vote. His inconsistencies in forming his own political identity didn’t help much either. By framing himself as an underdog but having a big presence among young white adults, both offline and online, it was hard for people from other demographics to identify with Bernie Sanders. Where 2016 came close as unifying politics caused people off all classes and colours to unite behind Sanders, this year dealt with an accidental opposite effect: rather than class divisions, people divided themselves unconsciously by education. And the lower-educated were charmed by worker-kid Biden much more than the guy from the big city, Bernie Sanders.
All in all, it’s easy to say the Americans would rather have a realistic chance at beating Donald Trump for his second term than present the candidate that comes ideologically closest to what the Democratic party stands for. But it’s not entirely wrong. What is entirely wrong though, is attributing this as the sole cause of Sanders’ shortcomings. For the second time in just four years, his campaign-focus is too narrow and does not take into account the swing voters. Say, you’re a 52-year old man from Minnesota who’d love to see a better America for the upcoming generation. It seems obvious to vote Sanders, but there is nothing you are going to gain from it. As it stood and apparently as it stands, many Americans feel this way. In order to compete, you cannot include half of the people but expect it to work for everyone. Sanders realised this, but just a little too late.
Final Editor: Eva de Boer