Editorial: Well played, Mr. Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders played his hand well. He exited his bid to be the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party in an Wednesday morning speech with grace, eloquence and his determined and passionate appeal for his own brand of revolution — and he did so after moving his once-radical ideas into the mainstream of American politics over the past five years.
In the end, Bernie’s revolution will hopefully become a core of what Democrats think of as their solutions to what ails America.
That transition has already happened on many fronts. Bernie’s call for free-college education was once a fantasy hope for many underprivileged students staring at the astronomical costs of higher education today. But the idea gained traction among the Democratic nominees in this campaign and was later embraced by many, and understood throughout the country as a need that must be met if America is to remain a leader in the world economy. We increasingly live in a knowledge-based world economy and if Americans don’t provide a higher education to the majority of our students, we’ll soon fall behind. Not to recognize and pursue this initiative is the surest way to become a second-rate power.
Bernie has also been an early and stalwart champion of renewable energy and a tireless leader in the fight against carbon emissions that are overheating Earth. America’s youth understand this as one of their primary long-term concerns and recognized Sanders as one of their political champions.
His calls to reduce the gross wealth inequity in the country — caused in part by Republican tax cuts for the wealthy and favorable corporate bailouts and laws — are, similarly, adopted and embraced by a wide majority of Americans.
Sanders’s health care plan, his so-called Medicare for All, was his most controversial and troublesome initiative simply because of the expansive costs and the massive undertaking it would require. But it was also what gave him the clout as a true American revolutionary. He wanted big change, not incremental steps, and his signature call that health care is a human right excites his followers with a sense of moral justice that has and will spark a long-lasting movement.
To that end, Sanders is right to stay in the remaining primaries and collect delegates as he may to strengthen his leverage at the convention and assure — all the while acknowledging and endorsing Biden as the Democrat’s nominee — that his followers stay engaged and that the party doesn’t abandon them in a push back to the political right.
To beat Trump, Democrats need Sanders not only because Biden lacks the passionate and articulate oratory Sanders provides, but because the party’s tendency over the past two decades is to abandon those they represent near the end and kowtow to big business, corporate lobbyists and the like. Sanders continued presence is a needed backstop to that.
Nevertheless, it’s clear Democratic voters didn’t want “Sanders the revolutionary” to combat “Trump the dictator.” They sensed that Americans want stability, a steady head at the head of state to get us out of Trump’s chaotic, incompetent and ruinous rule.
While Biden was their choice to achieve that goal, Sanders still represents the heart of the party to many. They still seek a dynamic and progressive push to put the middleclass and the working American at the top of the pecking order and quit favoring the wealthy elite represented by Trump and his cronies who are ravaging the lands more savagely than most realize and pillaging government coffers more freely than anyone could have imagined.
Democrats need Bernie out on the campaign trail, from now through November, rallying his supporters to back Mr. Biden, and to continue the social movement he so successfully began four decades ago when we first was elected as Burlington’s mayor.
So to our senator from Vermont we say: Well played, Mr. Sanders. As a presidential candidate, you’ve done far more than most, exited the race more gracefully than many and with a game plan to continue forward. Few throughout history can say the same.