Vermont Senator and progressive icon Bernie Sanders is officially out of the presidential race, leaving former Vice President Joe Biden as the last man standing and presumptive Democratic nominee.
Sanders outlasted many candidates, and for a brief moment in February, thanks to wins in New Hampshire and Nevada, even claimed frontrunner status. The Senator’s progressive proposals and platform drew young voters and fierce support, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a Biden surge that started in South Carolina and continued into Super Tuesday, as other moderates dropped out and endorsed the former vice president.
Sanders famously stayed in the 2016 primary against Hillary Clinton for a protracted fight, one that many feared might lead to a contested convention. It seemed for a while like that would be the case this year, as well, but with primary elections postponed with coronavirus making voting a dangerous prospect for many, and his path to the nomination possible but highly improbable, Sanders conceded defeat.
In what he called a “difficult and painful discussion,” Sanders shared that he could not in good conscience continue his campaign during this crisis with such a narrow path to victory. He spoke directly to his supporters and outlined how important his policies continue to be, and his hope that he can continue to shape the platform of the Democratic party, as he will remain on the ballots.
Today I am suspending my campaign. But while the campaign ends, the struggle for justice continues on. https://t.co/MYc7kt2b16
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 8, 2020
While, in 2016, Sanders was a progressive outlier, many of his policies were popular among other Democratic candidates, including medicare for all. His chief progressive rival was Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who for a time led Sanders in the polls this year, but faltered when the voting began.
Sanders had strong support among young voters, and in 2020, he expanded his support among Latinx voters, but he was never able to capture the support of Black Americans, who overwhelmingly voted for Joe Biden in the contests thus far. In early March, Sanders also suffered a defeat in Michigan, a state he won handily against Clinton in 2016. These factors led many to question his path to victory, a question which has now been answered.
Supporters and former rivals used social media to thank and acknowledge Sanders’ campaign.
Thank you Bernie – for doing your best to fight for all of us, from the beginning, for your entire life.
Thank you for fighting hard, lonely fights in true devotion to a people’s movement in the United States.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 8, 2020
That fight does not end today. We’ll continue it together in the Senate and keep working to hold the wealthy and well-connected accountable to the people.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 8, 2020
.@BernieSanders is an extraordinary leader. From health care to climate change, his campaign drove the conversation around what’s in the best interests of working families. We must continue that spirit and ethos as we work to unite the party to defeat Trump.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) April 8, 2020
I’ve admired @BernieSanders’ courage for 20 years and loved getting to know him this last year on the trail. He and his supporters are a tremendous force, and I’m looking forward to teaming up to end the Trump presidency and open the door to a better American era.
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) April 8, 2020
For those that are disappointed in this development, which is completely understandable, Sanders supporter Ilhan Omar has a message.
For those of you who plan to sit this election out or vote for Trump, just stop.
The livelihoods of millions of marginalized people are at stake.
We must all fight like hell to get Donald Trump out of the White House and end the rise of fascism in this country.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) April 8, 2020
Ever classy, Donald Trump wasted no time dancing on Sanders’ grave and blaming Elizabeth Warren for his defeat (a false claim).
Bernie Sanders is OUT! Thank you to Elizabeth Warren. If not for her, Bernie would have won almost every state on Super Tuesday! This ended just like the Democrats & the DNC wanted, same as the Crooked Hillary fiasco. The Bernie people should come to the Republican Party, TRADE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2020
Let’s hope that Donald Trump’s glee over this can serve as a reminder that while Biden and Sanders weren’t terribly close in their policies, they were far closer than Biden and Trump, and that it’s a serious leap from “medicare for all” to “healthcare for none.”
Sanders’ political career is not over, and his influence will continue to be felt both in the Democratic party and through his work in the U.S. Senate. For now, this gives the party a long time to unite and work to take down Donald Trump in the general.
(via: NBC News, Image: Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
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