Featured Image: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen
Bernie Sanders officially suspended his presidential campaign on April 8th, 2020. His campaign was symbolic of hope and revolution, so it was a clear celebration for the Democratic establishment and liberal elites to have him gone.
The movement he began when he announced his candidacy in 2015 energized millions of voters, most of them young, to take part in the political process. The movement inspired millions frustrated with the current American system. His campaign ran on issues such as universal health care, cancelation of student debt, the need for a living wage, and countless other progressive issues. His campaign never wavered on any of those issues, and young voters, many who have been burdened by the capitalist system that favors the powerful, whether liberal or conservative, saw his presidency as their last hope for a future worth believing in. Bernie Sanders was by no means the “perfect” candidate. But his history of fighting against the powerful for over 40 years made believers out of an entire generation, and a Sanders administration would have been a long-sought-after step in the right direction.
So, does it really come as a surprise why his supporters are so frustrated and disillusioned by his endorsement of Joe Biden just five days after ending his campaign? A campaign that has been backed up by the entire political establishment? A candidate who has been accused of sexual assault multiple times, yet has had those allegations suppressed and ignored by the mainstream media? A candidate who has repeatedly told wealthy donors that nothing would change under his administration? A candidate who has gone off on voters in town halls to “vote for the other guy” if they have a problem with him?
Of course, the circumstances are understandable. The Trump administration has been one of the most destructive in American history. Children in cages. The family separation policy. The tax cuts for the 1%. Mass ICE raids and deportations. The Muslim ban. The attacks on the Mueller investigation and cover-up through his attorney general William Barr. The impeachment trial. The constant lying and spreading of misinformation. The list goes on forever, and the GOP has been more than comfortable enabling Trump’s actions. Despite all their complaints of Trump behind his back, Mitch McConnell and the GOP voted to acquit him and allowed the rise of authoritarianism. The party never had values or principles. It was always about power.
That said, the Democratic establishment is no different. Despite taking back the house in 2018 and electing progressives such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Talib, etc., the Democratic establishment has had their own agenda of having things return to “normal”, failing to recognize that normal wasn’t working at all. Obama was known as “deporter-in-chief” for a reason. His administration failed to bring the hope and change promised during his 2008 presidential campaign. Obama ran as a progressive and won. Then he pivoted to the center to appeal to the establishment, which was his greatest mistake. Even today, he continues to remain silent over the numerous dehumanizing actions of his successor, concerned more about his own legacy than the need for justice.
Flash forward to 2019, and establishment Democrats have not changed their principles in the slightest. No matter how many times Nancy Pelosi claps back at Trump during his union address, she and other Democrats allowed an increase in Trump’s military budget and blocked a vote for medicare-for-all. Despite their branding as the “resistance”, establishment Democrats have acted as the “assistance.”
Voters will remember that. The anti-Trump message is not enough. It was not enough in 2016, and it will not be enough come November 2020.
Was it any wonder, then, why Bernie Sanders was the last hope for a generation burdened by student debt? By lack of health care? By the existential and clearly present crisis of climate change? The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the failures of our system. Reality endorsed Bernie Sanders. He ran on issues and promises that could have prevented thousands of deaths. He was our last chance for change.
But the establishment made their choice. They propped up Biden as the most electable, the clearest winner against Trump despite his weak poll numbers. They are once again going for a centrist who marks a return to the status quo and promises no change for the working class. Biden was arguably the weakest candidate in the race. He provides no energy or enthusiasm. He can barely form a sentence. He has so much political baggage that the right is savoring taking him down. And it’ll be easy.
It was Bernie the politician who endorsed Biden, but the country needed Bernie the organizer and revolutionary. He had vowed to take down the most dangerous president in history. But the establishment will still blame him and his supporters if/when Biden loses, weaponizing “unity” as a tool to cover their lack of responsibility. The vote-shaming online has only further alienated his base. Unfortunately, his endorsement was utterly pointless.
But again, this was what the establishment sought for. They have decided they don’t need the progressive vote. They now have seven months to win this election. They cannot complain about Bernie not doing his part anymore. They cannot blame his supporters when they have continuously punched down on them. They have lost a generation of voters, and the consequences are coming.