The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has done many things, one of which is proving that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has been right about everything.
The shameful inadequacies of the healthcare system of this country, which this crisis has laid bare, show that Medicare for All is a necessity. The greed with which major corporations acted, securing trillions in government bailouts for themselves, shows that Sanders’s war on the rich is more urgent than ever.
Unfortunately, the Democratic primary electorate does not see things in this way. They have seen fit to elevate former Vice President Joe Biden, an atavism of the failed politics of the past. After all but handing the nomination to Biden, Democratic voters might have some buyer’s remorse. Biden has always been a lethargic presence on the political scene. He gets plaudits from the media from his folksy “c’mon man” utterances, but what that folksiness hides is a lack of energy.
Unsurprisingly, Biden has been passive. His team has been hiding him from the media, initially claiming the lack of appearances from the candidate was because it had to set up a studio in his lavish Delaware mansion. Due to his absence, there was some joking speculation on social media if Biden had fallen ill or even died.
While Biden appears to be in good physical health, his media spots have been shambolic exercises, with the former vice president struggling to get through pre-written statements. But the real problem is Biden’s lack of vision. His warmed-over centrist bromides about getting back to the status quo, already pathetic before the pandemic, now make their bankruptcy evident.
It is no accident Sanders overwhelmingly won the votes of young people. Biden, through his repeated displays of contempt for the youth, is the literal incarnation of gerontocracy.
Meanwhile, Sanders has been displaying leadership. Sanders has hosted livestreams addressing the crisis on a near-daily basis. On one occasion, he invited members of Congress like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) to speak with him, and just this Monday, he held a round table discussion with public health experts.
In his role as a senator, Sanders successfully fought for the inclusion of unemployment benefits in the stimulus bill. Sanders is the only presidential candidate, Democratic or Republican, who cares about the working people of this country.
As Sanders so often says, his campaign is about “us, not me.” The pandemic and the recession have revealed the rotten structure of U.S. society. As doctors and nurses fall dead from a lack of personal protective equipment and thousands of workers lose their jobs, Sanders’s indictment of our horrific socioeconomic system rings truer than ever. As the capitalist economy implodes, his call for a more just society hardly seems radical. What may have seemed ridiculous a few weeks ago is now developing into common sense.
Biden is by no means inevitable. We do not have to hand over the future to a manifestly unqualified man who is incapable of confronting crisis. Though his supporters claim Biden’s chief asset is his so-called electability, they overlook his myriad flaws.
Biden has spent decades working as a loyal steward of corporate interests, and he does not seem likely to stop doing that. Biden is not the antithesis of President Donald J. Trump, but rather the other side of the same coin. Both of them represent two facets of the same rotten system. Like Trump, credible accusations of sexual assault have been levied against Biden.
Let us not forget that the Democratic primary is not over yet. Biden does lead in the delegate count, but he has not seized a majority. Many states, like New York and Pennsylvania, have shifted their primary dates to June as a result of the pandemic. For those of us in New Jersey, our primary is on June 2. Normally, the New Jersey primary would have been irrelevant due to its late date, but now it will count.
Instead of dropping out and ceding the field to a feckless Biden, Sanders has indicated that he will fight the primary to the end. If he has not given up, there is no reason why his supporters should either. I will still vote for Sanders, and I urge my readers to do too.
Samuel Kao is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in history. His column, "Left on Red," runs on alternate Wednesdays.
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