Bernie Sanders is a stubborn man. Anyone who’s been paying attention to American politics for the past several years would already be aware of that. He didn’t take defeat lying down in the 2016 election, he wouldn’t let a heart attack put him off his stride during this campaign, and it’s taken him a long time to stand down even with an inevitable defeat staring him in the face for the 2020 Democratic nomination. Nevertheless, the seasoned campaigner has now bowed to the inevitable. He’s suspended his Presidential bid, clearing the way for Joe Biden to run against Donald Trump later this year.
This won’t have been easy for Sanders. It took a lot of conviction for him to run again after the poor treatment he felt that he received from the party in 2016, and giving up this time wasn’t just giving up on this campaign. At the age of 78, this was his last chance to become President of the United States of America. Hopefully, the Vermont senator will still be alive and healthy when 2024 arrives, but he’ll be too old to stand a third time. Sanders hasn’t just given up on becoming President in 2020; he’s given up on becoming President for good. It was his lifelong dream, and anyone who’s ever had to give up on a lifelong dream will know just how difficult that can be.
His surrender brings to a close a race that once appeared to be going his way. Placing bets on the outcome of electoral processes like this is never easy. The odds change so much and so often that it sometimes feels more like playing online slots than sports betting or forecasting, and some of the mechanisms of online slots hold true to the process. For anybody to win anything from casino games UK, they need all the right symbols to line up in the right place at the right time. They were doing that for Sanders in the early weeks of polling and voting, but luck appeared to have deserted him at the end. Sometimes it’s necessary to step back from an online slots game to prevent further losses, and after presumably looking at the data, Sanders has come to the harsh realization that the time to do exactly that has now arrived.
The biggest question that he and his team will be asking themselves in the days and weeks to come is how it came to this? How, in a campaign where Biden briefly appeared to be nowhere, and Sanders appeared to be in the driving seat, have things turned around so dramatically? In late February, he was reading the race nationally, and some news outlets even declared the race to be all-but over. Sanders appeared to be secure in his position as the chosen one among Democrats, and Biden was floundering both at the polls and in front of the television cameras. As the old adage goes, though, a month is a long time in politics, and in this past month, the world changed beyond all recognition. Somehow, the tide turned against Sanders and ushered Biden back to the promised land.
Sanders, even if successful, would have been a radical and experimental candidate. It’s one thing to be experimental and radical during relatively untroubled times. It’s quite another to try to adopt that platform during a time when the world has been turned on its head. Americans are worried about their health, their finances, and their future at the moment, and a safe and secure option automatically looks more attractive than one that represents a risk. Biden might not be radical, but based on his track record, people feel like they know what they can expect from him. He won’t upset the apple cart too much, but he’ll still be markedly different from Donald Trump as the nation’s leader. With so much on the line, ‘different to Trump’ appears to be enough for Democrat voters for the time being.
It might even be possible that the scale of Sanders’ earlier victories might have counted against him in the long run. Such was the nature of Sanders’ early lead that it eliminated Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar – two candidates who were expected to hang around until much later in the campaign. Both of the eliminated candidates threw their weight behind Biden and urged their supporters to do the same. Were both of them still in the race, they might have split the Biden vote and made it easier for Sanders to win. Without them, Biden picked up votes that would otherwise have gone elsewhere and squeezed Sanders out of the equation. It’s strange to think that winning strongly might ultimately be a bad thing, but in the case of the Sanders campaign, it appears to have been the case.
After a few days of reflection, Sanders may ultimately have to accept that he, too, made poor tactical decisions during his campaign. It’s an ugly truth of American politics that candidates attack each other in the media. The straight-shoot between Trump and Biden is likely to be the ugliest in American history, with advertising that will focus more on the perceived flaws of the opposite party than the perceived strengths of the candidate that the adverts are there to promote. The entire Democratic establishment rounded on Sanders and attacked him personally at every possible turn. Sanders didn’t respond, even when given the opportunity to. His campaign team urged him repeatedly to go after Biden’s weaknesses in the same way Trump has in the past and will in the future. Sanders declined to do so. He wanted to fight and win the campaign based on nothing more than policy, but politics in America leads on personality. It was a losing ticket, and yet he held on to it when he didn’t have to.
The enduring political legacy of Bernie Sanders and his Presidential campaigns will be that he revealed a level of support for socialist politics in the United States of America that few people knew was there. He energized the young in a way that few before him have been able to, and the strength of conviction that younger voters have for his policies suggests that somewhere between ten and twenty years from now, when these voters are a little older, a socialist will eventually be elected President of the United States. For now, though, such views will have to take a back seat. Biden might not be the ideal candidate that many Democratic voters wanted, but he’s the only one they have.