It is no secret that in 2016, through the primaries, I found a lot to like about Senator Bernie Sanders. His end goals were far more in line with mine, his advocacy and presentation as well. I respected the campaign and was glad to work on behalf of organizers connecting people. There are a lot of us who are in exactly the same category.
After the 2016 election, I was one of the many Democratic National Committee members who came in advocating for progressive changes to be put in place and to move our party to better support young people.
In every meeting of the Unity Reform Commission, both sides said they wanted people to know. — not feel — that they had input into the process, and that what they were saying truly mattered. These are all great accomplishments.
But none of them are the equivalent of the possibility of an incredible accomplishment Senator Sanders could have ahead — and that is to become the statesmen he is and put his campaign on pause or suspend it, standing on behalf of a scared public, fighting for better policies in the senate, and presenting a unified front against President know-nothing Trump.
The Washington Post yesterday broke the story about meetings around the Sanders campaign where the Vermont senator was considering his options. The statement that stood out to me was this one:
Larry Cohen, a close ally who helms a nonprofit aligned with the senator, is advocating that Sanders do three things: Push for mail-in balloting for the remaining primaries to curb the risk to voters from the coronavirus; stay in the race to accumulate enough delegates to influence the party platform; and forge a working conversation with Biden that acknowledges that the former vice president, not him, has the path to a majority of pledged delegates.
“Just a dialogue with Biden, not attacks,” said Cohen.
I recognize that there will be those who will say fight until the very end. Cohen, though, is a member that has had a strong read on where the race is, his standing from Our Revolution and with unions is unquestionable, and his point here is strong: the time has come to end negative campaigning, and to begin working together on how we prevent future disasters.
Senator Sanders has a role as a US Senator that former VP Biden doesn’t — he’s a current elected, who has a chance to shape immediate policy in DC, not on the campaign trail. He also has the opportunity to set the stage for how we can change the party not just for this election but going forward.
In order to do that, however, some rhetoric from his campaign just has to end.
LAST I CHECKED…
There's still a Dem primary.
There are still two candidates.
One is raising millions for #pandemic victims.
The other disappeared during one of the most critical weeks of our lifetime.
Until the primary is over we have the right to make our case.#NotMeUs
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) March 22, 2020
There are some serious problems with campaigns that work in this way. There is also a bit of an unfair nature here. The statement “one is raising millions for #pandemic victims” is a backhanded attack as though VP Biden is not doing anything to help raise funds or assist those who are facing financial difficulty, which is just not true. The second problem is that when we get to “we have the right to make our case”. I would agree that every campaign has a right to make their case, but at a certain point, you have to acknowledge it is over, and more than that — this time, Senator Sanders can make his case in a profound way.
From ABC News:
All of this comes after two days without public events with Biden, and at a natural ‘reset’ point in the race: Biden has won 1,080 of the 1,991 delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination, according to ABC News’ delegate count–effectively ending any viable path to the nomination for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
What is the role that Sanders can play? Democratic voters in states that remain are very concerned about their participation in future caucus and primaries. They are concerned about the ability to vote in August primaries in states and in the November elections. Senator Sanders can become a warrior for change on behalf of mail-in ballots, as Larry Cohen notes above, he can become a stalwart for why Trump has left us all weakened, and he can lead us into a convention where we are a more unified front, not just against Trump but against a pandemic that no one alive in the US has seen before.
If Sanders wants to stay in the campaign, I do not fault him. If he drops out, I don’t fault him either. The suspension of negative campaigning, though, is just the start in establishing his legacy from this point forward.
As an officer, I take no stand at all as to who I prefer as a candidate. I may have my own thoughts and Senator Sanders is on our ballot. I will not encourage anyone to vote in any way on either side until after the Kansas party run primary, May 2.
Take the step, Senator, and your voice will be one of the most powerful statements of the crisis we now face, meanwhile, an ongoing bitter campaign will make it seem as though even Democratic candidates downplay the significance as they rush voters to the polls and put petty squabbles above public health.