Ever since Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the race, I’ve been taking my time deciding who would be the best person to support as the primaries have narrowed to two candidates: Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. Joe Biden’s recent primary victories last Tuesday makes it clear that he is on the path to win the most delegates to secure the Democratic nomination when the Democratic convention comes along. I’ve read a few articles though that argue that one can support a candidate for other reasons other then securing the nomination. One can support a candidate in the hopes that the candidate can influence their eventual nominee and the party to a more progressive direction.
I’m strongly inclined to support Bernie during the rest of the primaries in the hopes that he can influence both Joe Biden and the Democratic Party in a more progressive direction. I will support Joe Biden during the general elections. Unlike some progressives, I have no hostile feelings towards moderate Democrats. I see both moderate Democrats and Democratic Socialists as competing friends, not as ideological enemies.
I am a liberal Democrat, though, not a moderate Democrat or a Democratic Socialist. I agree with the premise underlying both the Elizabeth Warren and the Bernie Sanders campaigns: this country needs bold structural changes to address the growing economic inequalities that are destabilizing the American middle class and putting too much economic and political power in the hands of the wealthiest segment of the population.
This problem of economic inequality has left struggling and desperate communities vulnerable to the appeals of demagogues and white nationalism. It has also pushed the Republican Party too far to the extreme Right, making it impossible for the Democrats to find common ground with Republicans to solve issues like climate change, gun violence, minority rights and economic inequality. It becomes a vicious circle.
My hope is that Elizabeth Warren (from behind the scenes) and Bernie Sanders (challenging Biden on the campaign trail) can influence both Joe Biden and the Democratic Party towards a more progressive direction. From reading a lot of American history, I believe that social change in the U.S. comes about when reformers inside the system and radicals outside the system work simultaneously to pressure the system to change. It’s important to win against Donald Trump in the Fall. But I also think it’s important to address the problems that made Donald Trump’s rise possible in the first place. If we don’t address those problems, we’ll continue to have these problems even after Trump leaves the Presidency.
Here is an excerpt of a speech Bernie Sanders explaining why he is staying in the race:
“What became even more apparent yesterday is that while we are currently losing the delegate count, approximately 800 delegates for Joe Biden and 660 for us, we are strongly winning in two enormously important areas which will determine the future of our country.
Poll after poll, including exit polls, show that a strong majority of the American people support our progressive agenda. The American people are deeply concerned about the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in this country, and the American people want the wealthy and large, profitable corporations to start paying their fair share of taxes…
…But it is not just the ideological debate that our progressive movement is winning. We are winning the generational debate. While Joe Biden continues to do very well with older Americans, especially those people over 65, our campaign continues to win the vast majority of the votes of younger people…
…While our campaign has won the ideological debate, we are losing the debate over electability. I cannot tell you how many people our campaign has spoken to who have said — and I quote — ‘I like what your campaign stands for. I agree with what your campaign stands for. But I’m going to vote for Joe Biden because I think Joe is the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump.’ End of quote. We have heard that statement all over this country. Needless to say, I strongly disagree with that assertion, but that is what millions of Democrats and Independents today believe.
On Sunday, I very much look forward to the debate in Arizona with my friend, Joe Biden…
…So, let me conclude the way I began. Donald Trump must be defeated, and I will do everything in my power to make that happen.”