Sen. Bernie Sanders just ended a nearly six-year quest for the presidency. Any politician knows when you run for office you must believe you will win or you can’t keep going. On April 8, Bernie finally accepted it was over for him. I feel for Sanders. You need a big ego to run for any office but to believe you are the best person to be president of the United States requires an outsized one.
If you ever worked in campaigns as a paid staffer or volunteer, you know the kind of commitment and belief in your candidate required. You become part of the quest. In Sanders’s case he called his campaign a ‘revolution,’ one that would overthrow what he called the establishment and take over the Democratic Party. Others called it a cult. What must hurt him and his supporters most is in the end, even though many liked some of his ideas, voters clearly rejected both him and his way of accomplishing them.
So we must realize what it took for Sanders to say to Joe Biden when endorsing him, “We need you in the White House and I will do all that I can to make that happen.” Biden responded “I’m going to need you. Not just to win the campaign, but to govern.” They went on to say “they would form “task forces” on issues including the economy, education, immigration, health care, criminal justice and climate change.”
I support many of the ideas Sanders espoused, including universal healthcare, a higher minimum wage, and a guaranteed equal opportunity for a good education from cradle through college regardless of your economic circumstances. I have spoken out against the idea of Sanders being the nominee of the Democratic Party since he began his quest. At the start of the 2020 primaries I felt Biden was also not the right choice to lead us to victory. Yet contrary to some of Sanders’s young supporters who I hope will stay involved and be part of determining the future of the party, I have worked for many candidates, some winners some who lost. What has been clear to me for the more than 60 years of being active in politics is every major stride in strengthening the federal government’s programs to help people has come when Democrats are in control of government. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Affordable Care Act, food stamps, and so much more.
It is clear we have much more to do and the pandemic caused by COVID-19 has brought heightened recognition to so many issues we must address. It has shown us in a vivid way the vast inequalities we face in our country. But I also know the fights for improved healthcare, free college, paid sick leave, parental leave, affordable childcare, and to save our earth from climate change can only move forward if we defeat Donald Trump. As Sanders has now said unequivocally Joe Biden is the nominee of the Democratic Party and we must all give him 100 percent of our support. If we don’t we will not see any of these things happen for generations to come and our nation will turn its back on the progress we have made because Trump and his acolytes will continue to pack the federal court system with ultra-conservative justices.
Sanders has given Biden the chance to pivot to the general election campaign immediately. He has given the DNC and all major Democratic PACs the chance to pivot now and made it comfortable for progressives like Warren and Steyer to endorse Biden now. We must appreciate what it meant for Sanders to do that.
I have full confidence Biden recognizes what he has to do to win over some of Bernie’s supporters and he has already begun the process.
I look forward to a Biden administration that will look like the diversity of America; an administration with an equal number of women, an administration including the African-American community, the Latino community, the LGBTQ+ community, Asians and immigrants and people of all ages. Working together we will win.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.
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