Like many other Bernie supporters I’ve been pondering what I think Bernie should do now that the chances of him winning the Democratic Presidential nomination look like a very, very steep and long-shot climb.
Arguments for him staying in have included:
-using his campaign to support down-ballot candidates who have been supporting him;
-continuing to speak out and educate about all of the many issues, and their interconnections, that he has been doing all throughout this 2019-2020 campaign;
-putting pressure on Biden and the Democrats to be much stronger on climate, health care, mass incarceration, immigrant rights and many other issues;
-and, very importantly, strengthening the progressive movement, both inside and outside of the Democratic Party, which is always important but which is especially important right now given the deepening coronavirus COVID-19 and economic crises, on top of everything else that is not exactly getting better.
But I was influenced by a piece in The Nation a couple of days ago arguing that Bernie’s most effective role right now might be as a leading US Senator fighting for a federal government package to address those two intertwined immediate crises but doing so in a way which reflects the working-class-first approach of his campaign. And I suppose there is the argument that Bernie continuing to campaign for President will somehow weaken Biden.
I can’t see that last argument. Please, if Biden is the candidate, he’s going to be facing all kinds of attacks by racist, lying, narcissistic Trump going way beyond any criticisms made by Bernie. A good case can be made that Bernie needs to stay in just to get Biden prepared for what is coming.
Today, though, listening to an expert epidemiologist on Democracy Now and reading a piece on the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis in The Nation, a new thought came to me as to why Bernie should keep running.
Right now what Bernie Sanders says is heard directly through social media by millions. Those things that get picked up by mainstream media are heard by tens of millions. He has a very big megaphone that he won’t have if he drops out of the Presidential race. As a case in point, how much are Elizabeth Warren’s positions on issues being spread through the media since she dropped out almost three weeks ago?
The country and the world needs Bernie’s voice right now. His understanding of the world and his willingness to speak the truth about it are badly needed. He is especially needed to make the connections between the current pandemic and economic crisis and the importance of Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and a whole new way that human societies need to live in relationship to our disrupted climate and our disrupted natural ecosystems.
This current crisis opens wide the possibilities for huge numbers of people, relatively rapidly, really getting it that the real issue is the need for wide-ranging and deep systemic change. Without it the hole we are in because capitalism rules the world will only get deeper.
Keep using that megaphone, Bernie, keep speaking and teaching and leading.
Ted Glick is the author of the forthcoming Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in Catholic Left Resistance to the Vietnam War. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.