The Best Candidate
Progressive, moderate and conservative Democrats agree: nothing is more important than making Donald Trump a one-term president. And the primaries clearly indicate the candidate they believe is up to that challenge is Joe Biden. So Bernie, it’s time to withdraw. Time to get with the program and get behind the candidate people think has the best shot at winning in November.
Lack of Support
I know that’s hard for you, but you have to stop blaming the “Establishment” for your loss. There is no individual or monolithic group that has dictated this result. Rather, it is the cumulative votes of millions of Democrats, Independents and Republicans disgusted with Trump who have come together to select the individual they think is best positioned to beat this woeful excuse of a human being, let alone, President of the United States. This is still a democracy—despite Trump—and a great majority believes that person is Joe Biden.
You believe the issue of electability is the reason you’ve been unable to build the support of a majority of voters. Perhaps your expectation of support has been mistakenly influenced by your success against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Your failure to repeat that success in several states this year suggests that 2016 was more a vote against Hillary than resounding support for you. However, even acknowledging electability as the major reason, you don’t accept that Biden is better suited to beat Trump.
The Generational Debate
You then go on to state that, nevertheless, you’ve won the generational debate. The evidence: exit polls that show you won among voters under 45 years of age. Additionally, you believe you won the ideological debate because a majority of voters favored the issues you strongly support. For example, you believe a majority of voters supports your policies of Medicare for all and climate change, followed by the elimination of student debt and free college tuition.
You are certainly correct when it comes to the generational divide. Younger voters tend to be more unabashedly idealistic, and Medicare for all as a concept sounds good to them, particularly when the financial details and political realities of making it happen are obscured. It offers a simple solution to a complex problem. And while many agree that college tuition and relief from student debt have to be addressed, well, making it a centerpiece can’t get much more personally relevant. As for climate change, young voters are more likely to be activists, but everyone who isn’t a science denier considers it a threat, and that includes Joe Biden and his supporters. But the young folks see you as their champion, the one who understands their concerns, so it’s no wonder they are your largest group of supporters. To your credit, you’ve been consistently promoting these policies your political life.
The Older Generations
That youthful group represents some 30-35% of the Democratic electorate. But face it. You are not the only one with these policy goals. After all, the Democratic Party has long promoted universal health care, dealing with climate change and building a strong educational infrastructure. The differences are in the means to achieve them. Simplistically, I believe it might be summed up as most would rather achieve 80% of the possible than 0% of the perfect.
Additionally, you consistently claim that you have brought new voters to the polls and that turnout by this younger generation will carry the day in the November election. You argue that Joe Biden cannot generate the enthusiasm to bring out new voters to defeat Trump, but it’s apparent that’s more wishful thinking than reality. There has been an increase in turnout in the primaries, but they voted for Biden.
And Bernie, perhaps this goes beyond the electability argument. Yes, you generate passion, energy and enthusiasm among younger voters when you attack and blame corporate greed and the establishment as the cause for all our ills. But not everyone sees it that way, particularly not older folks like me. I see the problem, but I emphatically don’t agree with your conclusions. Your socialist leanings shape your views and your solutions. I, on the other hand, am a capitalist and subscribe to the view of Winston Churchill. “Capitalism is the worst system, except for all the others.” I agree that the system has gone astray, is out of control and needs modification. But I say let’s fix it, not discard it.
You claim to be a Democratic Socialist, not a Socialist, and refer to the Nordic countries, especially Denmark, as your model. But Denmark is not a socialist country. Though the Government owns companies involved in power production (electricity, wind farms), railways, energy transmission, and TV broadcasting, they compete against non-state owned enterprises. Denmark is a free market-based economy, not a socialist planned economy. It is a comprehensive welfare state that derives its revenue from a capitalist base. In many respects the Danes have modified what we might call unfettered capitalism, making it more responsive to the needs of its citizens. Its extensive welfare program that provides security and an equitable distribution of income are accomplishments worth studying for applicability to the U.S.
But within the Danish system, (and its relatively homogenous population), there are elements that are the diametric opposite of the policies you propose so strongly. Regulations on credit, labor and business are but a few cases. For example, there is no guaranteed minimum wage and few restrictions on hiring and firing. But also high on that list is free trade, which is essential to Denmark’s economy and ability to pay for its welfare state. And that, Bernie, is the rub on your platform.
The Ideological Debate
You rail on about corporate greed and the need to redistribute wealth. Yes, the need for adjustment is warranted, as are higher taxes. But you ignore how wealth is created. It is the capitalist system that created wealth in the United States. The Government doesn’t create wealth. In the style of economy you propose, what is the wealth generator? What is the means that provides the incentive and approach to allow individuals to create wealth, as has been the case in the past?
Yes, you have won the ideological debate among young voters and the progressive far left. But you haven’t won the ideological debate among the majority of Democrats, let alone independents and appalled Republicans. In fact, to those voters, ideology isn’t even on the ballot. There is so much disgust and even hatred of Donald Trump, beating him in November is the overriding issue.
The Need for Competence and Unification
Which brings us to what I believe is the principal reason Americans have voted overwhelmingly in primaries for Joe Biden. Americans need a break from an angry, divisive President always looking for someone to blame. They are looking for a unifier, someone who can provide a calming effect on the country. They want to eliminate the pervasive divisiveness in today’s America. They reject rhetoric that will exacerbate that discord. The Coronavirus pandemic has intensified fear and uncertainty; the hunger for a calm presence to lead us is more important now than ever.
A majority of Americans recognize that Trump’s narcissism, loose relationship with the truth, and gross incompetence have made this crisis worse than it had to be. They are looking for a capable, honest leader who is focused on the crisis facing the country and the world. They are looking for someone they can trust with their lives. You missed the opportunity to show you could be that leader in the last debate. While Joe Biden focused on the impact of this crisis, and what he would do to best protect the country in this crisis, you reverted to your ideological but not relevant policy of Medicare for all.
It’s Now Time
Bernie, now is the time for you to be the patriot you are. Given the delegate lead Biden has and the remaining primary states that, as of today, are projected in total to add to his lead, your path to the nomination is severely limited. Of course, anything is possible, but is that long shot possibility worth it? You have acknowledged that most Americans believe Biden is better positioned to defeat Trump. I don’t believe that will change in future primaries if, indeed, they are even held. And if they are, is it desirable to bring thousands of individuals together to vote? I don’t think so.
Bernie, it’s time for you to acknowledge the reality and withdraw from the race. It is time for you to urge your supporters to follow your lead, unify against Trump, and support Joe Biden wholeheartedly. You will earn the respect of all Americans who want to end the nightmare of Donald Trump.