Time for Bernie Sanders to do what’s right for America
Against the backdrop of the corona pandemic, Sanders’ vainglorious refusal to quit the presidential race is more than foolish. It’s downright galling and bad for the country.
The headlines Wednesday were blunt and scathing.
In The New York Times: “Biden Gets Out the Broom.”
New York Magazine: “Why Is Bernie Sanders Still Running for President?”
New York Post: “Biden Just Made Bernie Nothing More Than a Two-Time Loser.”
And after the third Super Tuesday trouncing by Joe Biden, in which this time he handily won Florida, Illinois and Arizona, Democrats also were sounding the alarm to pull the plug on Bernie Sanders’ life support campaign.
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”I think the conversation is going to quickly turn to how and when does Bernie Sanders unite the Democratic Party,” former Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill said on MSNBC.
Celebrity Twitter, too, seems ready to call it: “With all due respect @Bernie Sanders,” tweeted tennis legend Martina Navratilova, “what are you waiting for???”
With Sanders more than 300 delegates short of Biden, the writing on the wall is clear, and has been for some time. And yet, there were reports on Tuesday that Sanders would not be quitting after these primaries, and some of his top staffers are not ready to let it go.
”I want the senator to stay in,” said national co-chair Nina Turner on Monday, adding that the campaign was “the culmination of this man’s life’s work.”
But against the backdrop of a worldwide pandemic, in which going out to vote actually means risking one’s own life, the Sanders campaign’s vainglorious and obstinate exercise in futility is more than merely foolish. It’s downright galling and bad for the country.
On the practical level, both candidates are struggling in a time of social distancing to physically campaign — rallies are canceled, makeshift digital events are suffering technical difficulties, voters are preoccupied with, you know, how to survive coronavirus. But even before COVID-19 crippled the country with fear, Sanders was underperforming in counties and states that he won in 2016. Fewer Americans are feeling the Bern, and that math isn’t changing as the electoral map gets even harder for Sanders.
Sanders’ race is also hurting the Democratic party. While he says he’s attempting to nudge Biden to the far-left so that his voters can feel they have permission to vote for him, Sanders’ supporters have been attacking the Democratic frontrunner and certain nominee in ways that could seriously injure him with the general electorate, going after Biden’s mental health and his capacity to do the job of president.
But even if these weren’t compelling enough reasons to get out of a race that he cannot win, Sanders needs to consider the arresting and disorienting new conditions in which America is living.
Confronting weeks, maybe months of social isolation, fears of coronavirus testing shortages, hospital overcrowding, lost jobs, a stalled economy, travel bans, school closures — in other words, a total disruption of American life — voters deserve some clarity and simplification in a time of anxiety and chaos. They also deserve some unity.
With Sanders still mounting a useless challenge against Biden, it keeps voters confused, the party divided and the primary unresolved. Talk of a brokered or contested convention — which, let’s face it, may end up taking place virtually or not at all — is supremely unhelpful at a time when Democrats could otherwise be preparing for a general election against Donald Trump, whose performance during the biggest health crisis of our lifetimes has been disastrous.
If Democrats want to beat Trump in November, their best chance is to give Democratic voters a nominee, a candidate they can unite behind and contrast to Trump. Biden has put in the work and performed better than any expected, winning all kinds of voters all over the country. He has, in short, made the case.
At a time of tremendous upheaval and uncertainty, Sanders can give voters some relief. He can do that by dropping out now, endorsing Joe Biden, bringing his voters over to the nominee and uniting his party.
This campaign may have been, as Nina Turner says, “the culmination of this man’s life’s work,” but this election isn’t just about one man. It’s time for this election to be bigger — it’s time for Sanders to do what’s right for America, and not just himself.
S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” on CNN.
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