No, Bernie Sanders Should Not Exit the Democratic Primaries
Progressives should ignore partisan gaslighting to "face reality" and fall in line before every vote is cast. We have the right to remain in this race.
Social media abounds with calls for Senator Bernie Sanders to abandon his bid for the Democratic nomination, with many citing an urgent need to unite against Donald Trump and the GOP in November as the reason he should suspend his campaign swiftly.
These calls are premature, and furthermore, stupid. I would go so far as to say that they completely betray the principles underlying our republic.
Nearly half of the remaining delegates need to be allotted. That amounts to millions of votes that still need to be cast - either for party favorite Joe Biden or for Bernie Sanders.
Claiming to care about the people's right to have a say in who represents them in November whilst simultaneously urging millions - yes millions - of your fellow Americans (many of whom have not yet had the chance to vote) to sit down, shut up, and fall in line betrays a despicable, anti-democratic attitude that should be resisted with the utmost intensity.
Then again, die-hard partisans hardly ever seem enthusiastic about allowing people to cast their vote, so we should not be surprised that those most towing the establishment line are the ones most likely to tell everyone to quit before the race has even moved beyond the halfway point.
Imagine if, in a game between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers, the Nuggets were down 70-40 at half time, but the referees, Lakers fans, and flaky Nuggets officials called for the game to end?
Such a situation would be absurd. But in the realm of mainstream political commentary, everyone seems to think that calling the competition before all the moves have been made is acceptable - even if it means denying millions of people the right to vote.
The basketball game analogy is applicable. Political speculation is a form of gambling, and while the numbers aren't currently in Sanders' favor, the current political context is defined by uncertainty.
COVID-19 has certainly thrown a wrench into our cognitive expectations regarding the 2020 election, so we should not discount the possibility that, maybe, just maybe, enough Democratic voters will wake up and see the need to fight for a man who will fight for them when it comes to Medicare for all and taking on the greed of Wall Street.
Additionally, it is hard not to detect an aura of nervousness emanating from those pushing their cynical defeatism on the progressive movement.
What has them so scared?
Could it be that a public health crisis has shifted the focus of America's media attention, and therefore redirected the public's gaze onto a health care system that is unprepared for a pandemic and an economic system that can't respond humanely to the needs of ordinary Americans?
It's hard to know how many of these people are simply trolls urging defeatism, bullies who want to further marginalize the only movement currently sticking up for the working-class and the vulnerable, or die-hard partisans who want the rest of us to fall in line, regardless of what our views are.
Supporters of Bernie Sanders should ignore these types on social media, and focus their energy on continuing to donate and volunteer in whatever ways they can.
Nothing angers a bully more than being ignored, so ignore them.
The democratic process, and more importantly a grassroots democratic process, is not something that ever gets "shut down," "put on hold," or "surrendered" in the name of faux-unity to appease a corporate party that could care less whether or not millions of people go uninsured for the next eight years.
You either believe we live in a representative republic built upon democratic ideals, or you don't.
Judging from social media comments, most registered democrats believe we do not live in a nation that votes, but rather one that is content to let elites and the media machine that manufactures our consent for them determine the outcome of our elections.
This should not come as a surprise. Both major parties aren't really interested in making their electoral process more democratic because they know, deep down, that it would relax their stranglehold over the system, so they fight to preserve the dying vestiges of a pro-corporate electoral process that has eroded our democracy for decades.
Bernie Sanders has scared them. Make no mistake about that. He has allowed millions of people to see through the bullshit, and it has them terrified.
They would not have united so quickly against his candidacy - two elections in a row - and leveraged the power and influence of America's major media conglomerates to unfairly color the opinions of mainstream America if he did not threaten everything they stood for.
Progressives have every right to fight for Bernie until the bitter end.
Hillary fought against Obama until he finally won the nomination. Yet no one calls out the hypocrisy of telling the only candidate to have made it this far on grassroots donations and volunteer work alone that he should quit before the race is finished.
Progressives shouldn't mince their words when countering that sentiment.
Telling us to quit and gaslighting us to accept a "reality" that hasn't been brought to pass yet is disgusting. No excuses should be made for that kind of behavior.
The Democratic party has been forced to bring the full might of their unjust rules-system down upon a man who threatens to upend the whole system, and that man has still managed to collect the second-most amount of votes.
To quote Noam Chomsky, "Bernie is vilified because he has inspired a movement," and the elites who want our republic to shift ever-further into oligarchy have no interest in supporting public figures who inspire people to speak up and get involved, rather than sit down and accept complacency.
Progressives should not stand down. They should not go quietly into the night. They should rage, rage, against the dying of the light.
There are several important states coming up, Wisconsin being one, but the last chance to really turn things around will be that critical East Coast vote that includes the state of New York.
Correction: I did not realize that most of the East Coast states delayed their primaries. Only Ohio and New York will be voting at the end of April. This is an interesting turn of events, which deserves its own piece.
If Bernie Sanders does not at least even the score in April, I will have to face the reality that he will not be handed the nomination, barring a wildcard event like Biden being disqualified over recent sexual assault allegations.
Even in such an unlikely scenario, the DNC would likely try to deny Bernie the nomination by handing Biden's delegates over to someone they are more comfortable with.
But should Bernie even the score and enter the nomination with a slight lead in votes, it will be hard for the DNC to justify giving the nomination to someone else without risking widespread, public disobedience.
Right now is not the time to be quitting on Bernie Sanders or to be selling out to an establishment that is so far gone that it can't even back Medicare for all, despite COVID-19 highlighting the need for them to do so.
I'm a bit cynical as to whether or not Bernie can achieve a genuine shift in the party. They do not seem to be interested in moving further to the left.
All Biden would really have to do to stand a chance at winning the general election and easing progressive fears would be to adopt Sanders' Medicare for all proposal - word for word - and promise to make it the primary goal of his first four years in office.
But he hasn't yet done it, and no one in the party seems to believe that America should have a universal health care system similar to other developed nations that have made it work.
That leaves only one option: fight for Sanders until the race is over, and then fight for his ideas long afterward - with or without a Sanders nomination.
If partisan die-hards think that progressives are simply going to shut up and go away even if they achieve their ill-willed victory over the only man who is still sticking up for them, they have another thing coming.
We are here to take this fight all the way to the DNC and beyond. This is a movement that has long-term as well as short-term goals, and it won't stop until it has revitalized our nation's democracy, achieved a Medicare for all system, tackled climate change by pushing through a Green New Deal, and put Wall Street in its proper place by taking on the special interests that have dominated Washington for decades.
Bernie Sanders is currently the dominant symbol of that struggle, but he's not the only one, and more and more folks are inspired to run for office every day.
The Democratic primaries are about more than who gets to run against Trump for the Oval Office.
They are about the ideas that will come to define the American electoral landscape for the next few decades.