The Sacrifice of Bernie Sanders

When the history of this political era is studied by future generations, Bernie Sanders will go down as America’s most impactful non-president politician.  Who comes in second will be a photo-finish but Bernie has won first place by a gap so big it rivals Secretariat’s in the ’73 Belmont Stakes.  And for the sake of posterity, winning that distinction emphatically is the only way it should really be won.  We owe Bernie for that- big time.

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Bernie is a man of uncommon conviction and his decision to apply that gift differently in the 2020 Democratic primary than he did in 2016 will prove to have been the pivotal event that sealed Donald Trump’s fate as a one term president.  If Joe Biden wins- and we have many reasons to expect that he will- it may not be solely because Bernie endorsed him very early in the process.  But it will undeniably be one of the primary reasons.

Every Tom, Dick and Harpo that opines about politics for a living has been recycling and regurgitating that “Democrats must unify the party” narrative for a full year before the Iowa caucuses.  Well, courtesy of Senator Sanders, Mission Accomplished.  Right after Bernie, the tidal wave of Democrat heavy hitters stepped out to throw their all behind Joe Biden- starting with the biggest wave of them all, President Obama.  Then came Elizabeth Warren.  Following closely behind was the Incomparable AOC- and it was fait-accompli.

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The smaller fish had already cast their lots with Joe so the deal was officially sealed.  Joe was now on a roll and you can tell because Trump’s press conference performances really went off the rails.  He is absolutely terrified that the Democrat he LEAST wanted to square off against in November is exactly the one he is getting.  And unlike Barack Obama, Trump can’t duck this fight by sitting out and waiting for his ideal opponent.  Sitting presidents have no choice: Buck Up or Sit Down- forever.

The infamous “Bernie Bros” have no excuse to raise hell this time around.  They have no way to justify an insurrection without exposing themselves as pure saboteurs on behalf of the Trump campaign.  Bernie himself- in one of the most cogent concession speeches ever given anywhere-  articulated that the best course of action for the agressive progressive voter is to back Biden so that he gets into the White House and then push him like hell to produce foundational change before he can even find his way to the Oval Office bathroom.

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It is more than just the smart move- it is the politically mature move that Democrats en masse needed to witness.  This was the leadership by example that is so rarely dispayed in modern politics but is so sorely needed.  And while it sounds odd to complement a man in his middle 70’s on his maturity, political maturity is altogether different than personal maturity.

Bernie is dispatching that immature political narrative that Democrats need to “fall in love” with their nominee in order to turn out to vote.  Besides being half-assed and lazy, that narrative is also pure b.s.  Of course Barack Obama was an inspirational figure like no other in American politics but the turn out was historical because the country was careening off a cliff under Republican leadership.

American voters in 2008 did not want to fall so they showed up and voted for survival.  In all likelihood, American voters in 2020 do not want to fly off that cliff either.  The turn out should be historical again and again American voters will vote to survive.  Ignore the polls and cable news (especially Fox News)- the reality is that the average person KNOWS we are royally screwed if we end up with a lame-duck Donald Trump.  And if they did not know it before,  COVID-19 cleared up any misunderstanding.  Evidently, Bernie took that into consideration when he decided to clear the field and start the wave.

It is important that the appreciation of Bernie not be couched in strictly political terms.  His policy prescriptions will define his legacy.  He was dogged and fearless in his advocacy and as a result he reframed the debates on issues central to the lives of working Americans.  In a Biden presidency, you can bet your last money that Bernie will be a major policy influence that we will feel for generations to come.

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We can expect Bernie Sanders to be to Joe Biden what Martin Luther King, Jr. was to Lyndon Johnson- that persistent voice that kept pushing and pushing until highly consequential legislation was passed and signed into law.

Bernie has ALWAYS been down for UNIVERSAL healthcare and because of his fearless consistency (and the combination of the ACA and COVID-19) we will come closer to that than ever before in American history.   Bernie has ALWAYS been down for empowering and upholding Americans who work for and live on their pay-check wages rather than investment portfolios or personal inheritence.  We will see a significant improvement in the financial stability of the working-class.

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Bernie has ALWAYS been down for upholding the fundamental civil rights and civic engagement of all citizens and we will see aggressive action on eliminating mass encarceration and restoring fair ballot access where it has been attacked.  Of course, Joe Biden believes in all of the same things but he will perform far better and deliver much more lasting results with Bernie Sanders in his ear and by his side.

Although he was not my number one choice for the Democratic nomination I have always respected the conviction, intellect and courage of Senator Sanders.  Not many politicians in my lifetime could match him in those areas.  And because he will never become the President of The United States his platform is going to diminish significantly- regardless of the true impact he is having.  This is the time to just say thank you.  From one politically active and engaged American citizen to one truly transformative, dedicated public servant, Thank you, Bernie.

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