Although I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary (and explained why here), I was not sorry to hear him declare his presidential run over today. In fact, I think he waited a bit too long. Once it became clear he couldn’t win — even before the COVID-19 crisis — he should have made his withdrawal speech and heartily endorsed Joe Biden.
What I hope now is that everyone who supported Bernie will turn out on Election Day in November — or mail in a ballot, if their states allow it — to vote for Joe.
I understand how many of Bernie’s supporters are sorry to see him go, but they can’t sit this one out. A friend in California tells me that instead of voting for Biden, his daughter and several of her friends plan to write-in Bernie’s name, which I told her is the same as voting for Trump. She replied that they live in an overwhelmingly blue state, so it won’t make a difference. I disagree. The bigger the national popular vote for Biden (and hopefully the outcome in the Electoral College), the more soul-crushing it will be for the Liar In Chief.
Furthermore, if they share their intentions on social media, other Bernie supporters in not-so-reliably-blue states might follow their example. That’s the path towards the continued destruction of our democracy. This is not the time to make a statement. That didn’t work when Ralph Nader leeched votes from Al Gore in 2000, nor when Jill Stein racked up 1.4 million votes in 2016. And at a time when Republicans are try to suppress even more voters from exercising their constitutional rights, turnout will be crucial.
Look, I get it. I have voted in every presidential election since 1976, and it wasn’t always for the Democrat I thought was best suited for the job. But whoever it was, they were all certainly better than the Republican alternatives. For chrissakes, why would I have voted for Michael Dukakis otherwise? Even four years ago, I was for Bernie in the primary, but ticked the box for Hillary when the time came.
Yes, Bernie had the most dedicated followers of any Democrat running this year, a fervent coalition (led mostly by young people) who want to see our society and systems change to create an America that is fair for all. I agree with him — and them — on almost everything. His message did help change the narrative, and many of his ideas — which he could never turn into law from his seat on the back bench of the Senate — are now considered mainstream, and he’s inspired lots of progressives to run for office (and win in many instances).
While his influence is undeniable, in two consecutive elections, he has proven unable to grow his fan base large enough to win the nomination. No one rigged the system against him. More people voted for the other candidate.
It is incumbent (if you’ll pardon the use of that word) upon Bernie to see to it that even his most ardent supporters understand this — after all, he’s a genius at staying on message — and he must tell them so repeatedly over the coming months.
It’s not just a matter of getting Trump out of the White House. It’s also important that a blue wave push as many GOPers — who prop up Trump and his policies every day they’re in office — out of the Senate, the House, and the statehouses. That will requires not just Democrats, but Independents, too.
By the way, in light of what happened in Wisconsin (particularly Milwaukee) yesterday, every American should apply for an absentee ballot to be sure they can vote in November should circumstances require it.
Those who did not follow this logic in 2016 deserve some of the blame for the mess we’ve had since. Those who do the same this year deserve all of it.
As I wrote three weeks ago, if that’s not enough incentive for you, I’ll give you three more words to think about: Ruth Bader Ginsburg.