In 2016, Bernie Sanders and his supporters believed Hillary would beat Trump right up until she didn’t. They bet the future of the country believing their continuing in the race promoting progressive ideas was a positive influence on the campaign, that attacking mainstream Democrats would strengthen the party, and sitting out the election on principle would not change the outcome. They were wrong.
Let’s not go down that road again in 2020. We have all lived with the disaster that followed including the loss of the Supreme Court for a generation. Let’s not kid ourselves that continued sniping and criticism of Biden from the left will do no harm. Predictions are that 2020 will be a close election in the Electoral College. Trump isn’t popular yet polls show him winning in Florida and Ohio. He may lose the popular vote again. But if he can win enough big states, plus the Red states and Wisconsin (where he is also currently ahead), then he will be President for four more years.
In 2000, many progressives assumed Gore would win anyway and therefore Ralph Nader’s progressive campaign of ideas would do no harm. They were wrong. Nader’s refusal to drop out and progressive votes for him led to a self-inflicted loss not only for progressives, but also for progress on climate change, peace, and human rights. We went backwards for eight years of George W. Bush. Trillions that could have gone for infrastructure and other needs were squandered on tax cuts, and war.
Biden has clearly attained an insurmountable lead in delegates and done so without money or organization and without any credible claim that the establishment put its thumb on the scale. Yet once again, we are hearing the same pitch—Bernie should stay in the race to promote progressive ideas, that doing so will enliven the remaining primaries, increase turnout and Biden is going to win anyway.
There is no guarantee of that. Bernie has had the advantage of plenty of money, a strong organization and passionate followers. Yet across every voting demographic, except low turn-out youth, his call for revolution has been rejected. Democratic party voters have chosen Biden over Bernie by double digits. At this point, continuing the campaign against Biden has one unabashed champion—Donald Trump. He is stoking the misplaced anger of the Bernie supporters that somehow Bernie is being cheated again out of the nomination. Like most of Trump’s tweets, this canard just isn’t true. The grass roots of the Democratic party have spoken. They like progressive ideas. However, revolution or bust looks more like bust. They want Trump out and progressive change implemented by Biden not Bernie.
We can’t afford to repeat the mistakes of the past on the conceit that Democrats will win in 2020 even as some in the party undermine the nominee all the way to the election. It’s time for Bernie to join the team and focus on beating Trump, McConnell and the Republican Senate.