Bernie’s departure

Joe Biden needs to reach out to the progressive Sanders supporters

Editorial April 12, 2020

The US presidential race has had some development during the Covid-19 noise. Democrats now have a presumptive nominee, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr, the former senator from Delaware, and the man who served as Barack Obama’s vice president for eight years. With his fate, more or less, sealed as the front runner shortly after he bagged a series of victories in the Democratic primaries over Senator Bernie Sanders, Biden still needs the official nomination at the party’s convention in Wisconsin, a state they failed to win against Donald Trump in 2016.

But before that, Biden will have to unite the party once again and perhaps even court disappointed Bernie supporters back into the Democratic camp. And each time, the firebrand Democratic Senator from Vermont drops out of the race, he leaves the party more fragmented and the nominee more unelectable. It happened in 2016. Bernie’s departure paved the way for Hillary Clinton, but it was an uphill battle — one she eventually lost. Now, once again, by dropping out of the race, Sanders leaves the party more polarised, making it even more challenging for Biden to unite the base against Donald Trump.

In politics, almost nothing is a matter of certainty, and almost everything is a matter of probability. If, somehow, Sanders was nominated — who made some gains in the field in key states of Iowa and New Hampshire, and appeared to be gaining support among the party’s new progressive base — his prospects against Trump in November would be far from hopeless. Bernie is appealing and his ideas challenge almost everything in America and perhaps even his party, but he is not an electable candidate for the White House. Now is Biden’s chance to use his moderate appeal to convince the democratic voters that he has the ability to beat Trump. And to do that, Biden needs to reach out to the progressive Sanders supporters who already lack enthusiasm for the former Delaware senator and his status quo brand of politics.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2020.

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