NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

Bernie Sanders ends his 2020 presidential campaign in livestreamed address

Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders of Ver­mont, who has helped ele­vate pro­gres­sive ideas to a high­er plane by mount­ing two suc­ces­sive cam­paigns for the pres­i­den­cy, announced today that he will no longer be seek­ing the 2020 Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­na­tion. In a livestreamed address from Burling­ton, Sanders said he had con­clud­ed there was no path to vic­to­ry and acknowl­edged his rival, Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden, as the par­ty’s pre­sump­tive nominee.

Despite choos­ing to end his cam­paign, Sanders said he would remain active in fight­ing for all of the caus­es he and sup­port­ers care so deeply about. As a Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor, Sanders is well posi­tioned to con­tin­ue to cham­pi­on good ideas the coun­try needs, like Medicare For All, the Green New Deal, and free college.

Said Sanders:

“I have con­clud­ed that this bat­tle for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­na­tion will not be suc­cess­ful. So today I’m announc­ing the sus­pen­sion of my campaign.”

“Please know that I do not make this deci­sion light­ly,” he emphasized.

“In fact, it has been a very dif­fi­cult and painful deci­sion. Over the past few weeks, Jane and I, in con­sul­ta­tion with top staff and many of our promi­nent sup­port­ers, have made an hon­est assess­ment of the prospects for victory.”

“If I believed we had a fea­si­ble path to the nom­i­na­tion, I would cer­tain­ly con­tin­ue the cam­paign. But it’s just not there.”

“I know there may be some in our move­ment who dis­agree with this deci­sion, who would like us to fight on until the last bal­lot cast at the Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­ven­tion. I under­stand that posi­tion,” Sanders continued.

“But as I see the cri­sis grip­ping the nation, exac­er­bat­ed by a pres­i­dent unwill­ing or unable to pro­vide any kind of cred­i­ble lead­er­ship and the work that needs to be done to pro­tect peo­ple in this most des­per­ate hour, I could not in good con­science con­tin­ue to mount a cam­paign that can­not not win and which would inter­fere with the impor­tant work required by all of us in this dif­fi­cult hour.”

You can watch Bernie’s address in its entire­ty below.

Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden respond­ed quick­ly with a lengthy state­ment prais­ing his for­mer rival and empha­siz­ing that he won’t take Sanders vot­ers’ sup­port for grant­ed. (A few of Sanders’ sup­port­ers are not Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers and have made it clear they aren’t inter­est­ed in sup­port­ing Biden under any circumstances.)

Here is that statement:

Today, Sen­a­tor Sanders announced he was sus­pend­ing his cam­paign. Bernie has put his heart and soul into not only run­ning for Pres­i­dent, but for the caus­es and issues he has been ded­i­cat­ed to his whole life.

So, I know how hard a deci­sion this was for him to make — and how hard it is for the mil­lions of his sup­port­ers — espe­cial­ly younger vot­ers — who have been inspired and ener­gized and brought into pol­i­tics by the pro­gres­sive agen­da he has championed.

Bernie has done some­thing rare in pol­i­tics. He hasn’t just run a polit­i­cal cam­paign; he’s cre­at­ed a move­ment. And make no mis­take about it, I believe it’s a move­ment that is as pow­er­ful today as it was yes­ter­day. That’s a good thing for our nation and our future.

Sen­a­tor Sanders and his sup­port­ers have changed the dia­logue in Amer­i­ca. Issues which had been giv­en lit­tle atten­tion — or lit­tle hope of ever pass­ing — are now at the cen­ter of the polit­i­cal debate. Income inequal­i­ty, uni­ver­sal health care, cli­mate change, free col­lege, reliev­ing stu­dents from the crush­ing debt of stu­dent loans. These are just a few of the issues Bernie and his sup­port­ers have giv­en life to. And while Bernie and I may not agree on how we might get there, we agree on the ulti­mate goal for these issues and many more.

But more than any one issue or set of issues, I want to com­mend Bernie for being a pow­er­ful voice for a fair­er and more just Amer­i­ca. It’s voic­es like Bernie’s that refuse to allow us to just accept what is — that refuse to accept we can’t change what’s wrong in our nation — that refuse to accept the health and well-being of our fel­low cit­i­zens and our plan­et isn’t our respon­si­bil­i­ty too. Bernie gets a lot of cred­it for his pas­sion­ate advo­ca­cy for the issues he cares about. But he doesn’t get enough cred­it for being a voice that forces us all to take a hard look in the mir­ror and ask if we’ve done enough.

While the Sanders cam­paign has been sus­pend­ed — its impact on this elec­tion and on elec­tions to come is far from over. We will address the exis­ten­tial cri­sis of cli­mate change. We will con­front income inequal­i­ty in our nation. We will make sure health­care is afford­able and acces­si­ble to every Amer­i­can. We will make edu­ca­tion at our pub­lic col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties free. We will ease the bur­den of stu­dent debt. And, most impor­tant of all, we will defeat Don­ald Trump.

At this moment, we are in the mid­dle of an unprece­dent­ed cri­sis in Amer­i­can his­to­ry. There is enor­mous fear and pain and loss being felt all across the coun­try. There are also untold sto­ries of hero­ism — of nurs­es and health care work­ers and doc­tors and first respon­ders and gro­cery store work­ers and truck dri­vers and so many oth­ers on the front lines of this cri­sis. Putting their own lives in dan­ger for the rest of us. If we didn’t know it before, we know it now: This is the back­bone of our nation.

Our first job is to get through the imme­di­ate cri­sis threat­en­ing the pub­lic health and get­ting into the pock­ets of America’s work­ers. But we also need to take a hard look at what we need to fix and change in this coun­try. Many of the biggest cracks in the social safe­ty net have been laid bare — from health care to paid sick leave to a more exten­sive and com­pre­hen­sive sys­tem of unem­ploy­ment benefits.

We will need to address these. Just as we need to address rebuild­ing our nation’s infra­struc­ture. And we all know — the clock is tick­ing — we don’t have a moment to waste in com­bat­ing the cli­mate crisis.

As friends, Jill and I want to say to Bernie and Jane, we know how hard this is. You have put the inter­est of the nation — and the need to defeat Don­ald Trump — above all else. And for that Jill and I are grate­ful. But we also want you to know: I’ll be reach­ing out to you. You will be heard by me. As you say: Not me, Us.

And to your sup­port­ers I make the same com­mit­ment: I see you, I hear you, and I under­stand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this coun­try. I hope you will join us.

You are more than wel­come. You’re needed.

Togeth­er we will defeat Don­ald Trump. And when we do that, we’ll not only do the hard work of rebuild­ing this nation — we’ll trans­form it.

DNC Chair Tom Perez also issued a state­ment prais­ing both Sanders and Biden, who is as of today offi­cial­ly con­sid­ered to be the pre­sump­tive nominee.

This pri­ma­ry has been one of the most inclu­sive and trans­par­ent in our party’s his­to­ry. It has show­cased the best of our par­ty, and I’m so inspired by all of our can­di­dates. All of them brought integri­ty to this con­test. All of them brought tal­ent, dri­ve, and enthusiasm.

And most impor­tant­ly, all of them showed an unwa­ver­ing com­mit­ment to improv­ing the lives of the Amer­i­can people.

I want to con­grat­u­late Vice Pres­i­dent Biden and his team on their vic­to­ry, and I also want to con­grat­u­late Sen­a­tor Sanders and his team on theirs. His ener­gy, ideas, and lead­er­ship have strength­ened our Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, and we need Sen­a­tor Sanders and his team to con­tin­ue lead­ing in this fight.

Now it’s time to come togeth­er and unite around our pre­sump­tive nom­i­nee. It’s time to fin­ish the job and send Joe Biden to the White House. For more than half a cen­tu­ry, Joe Biden has fought for the under­dog – from lift­ing up work­ers and mid­dle-class fam­i­lies, to pro­tect­ing sur­vivors of domes­tic abuse through the land­mark Vio­lence Against Women Act, to lead­ing the fight against the NRA and the gun lob­by in the Unit­ed States Senate.

And as labor sec­re­tary under Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, I got to see Vice Pres­i­dent Biden’s invalu­able lead­er­ship first­hand as he helped to lift our econ­o­my out of a reces­sion, res­cue the auto indus­try from col­lapse, and expand health care cov­er­age for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans, includ­ing those with pre­ex­ist­ing conditions.

Joe Biden is Don­ald Trump’s worst night­mare. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Even Trump’s own advi­sors have admit­ted Trump is ter­ri­fied of run­ning against Vice Pres­i­dent Biden.

The choice for the Amer­i­can peo­ple could not be clear­er: Don­ald Trump is a man of chaos and cru­el­ty; Joe Biden is a man of char­ac­ter and com­pas­sion. Don­ald Trump has failed every test of pres­i­den­tial lead­er­ship and bro­ken just about every promise he’s made, includ­ing dur­ing this pub­lic health cri­sis; Joe Biden has a decades-long record of deliv­er­ing results for the Amer­i­can people.

Now more than ever, we need a change in lead­er­ship to get our coun­try on the right track. The COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has laid bare the utter incom­pe­tence, inex­pe­ri­ence, and inef­fec­tive­ness of Don­ald Trump. His fail­ure to pre­pare for this cri­sis and to lis­ten to health experts has cost peo­ple their jobs, their sav­ings, and even their lives. In times of cri­sis, we need a pres­i­dent with the expe­ri­ence and empa­thy to lead the way for­ward. We need Joe Biden.

The Amer­i­can peo­ple know the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty has their back.

They know Democ­rats are the only par­ty fight­ing to pro­tect their health care, their jobs, their homes, and their future.

They know Democ­rats are the only par­ty fight­ing to end gun vio­lence, com­bat cli­mate change, and pro­tect repro­duc­tive rights.

They know Democ­rats are the only par­ty who will give them a fair shake – no mat­ter what they look like, where they come from, who they love, or how they pray. That’s why they’re ready to elect Joe Biden as the next pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States.

As a 2016 Bernie Sanders nation­al del­e­gate, I con­grat­u­late Bernie on hav­ing once again run a classy cam­paign that was pow­ered by ideas and grass­roots con­tri­bu­tions. The cam­paign did not secure the nom­i­na­tion, but that does­n’t mean it was not suc­cess­ful. A cam­paign does not need to ful­fill its ulti­mate and over­rid­ing objec­tive to be vic­to­ri­ous because it can have more than one objective.

As a strate­gist and a long-term thinker, I don’t eval­u­ate cam­paigns sole­ly on the basis of whether they result in an elec­toral vic­to­ry. It is pos­si­ble to win just by run­ning. Just by con­tend­ing. Just by show­ing up. It matters.

Bernie’s slo­gan has long been #Not­MeUs.

If ever there was a cam­paign that had more than one objec­tive, it was this one.

At its heart, Bernie’s cam­paign has always been about trans­form­ing the coun­try and rev­o­lu­tion­iz­ing grass­roots pol­i­tics (which, inci­den­tal­ly, is the NPI mot­to.) As Bernie said in his remarks, his cam­paign is a cam­paign that was fun­da­men­tal­ly about the future. It sought to build a mul­ti-gen­er­a­tional, mul­ti-racial move­ment for sore­ly need­ed change. And it has affect­ed the tra­jec­to­ry of Amer­i­can politics.

That mat­ters. Like Bernie said, pro­gres­sive ideas that weren’t con­sid­ered “main­stream” just a few years ago are now increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar and cred­i­ble. That did­n’t hap­pen by acci­dent. It took hard work and perseverance.

Over the course of two pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns, Bernie Sanders has reshaped Demo­c­ra­t­ic pol­i­tics and the wider Amer­i­can polit­i­cal landscape.

One way to put the impact that Sanders has had in its prop­er per­spec­tive is to think back to what Amer­i­can pol­i­tics was like in 2014, the year before the Sen­a­tor announced his first cam­paign. The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty was dis­in­te­grat­ing almost every­where and its per­for­mance in the 2014 midterms was abysmal.

Vot­er turnout was declin­ing. The pow­er­ful coali­tion that had car­ried Barack Oba­ma into the White House in 2008 had van­ished as a polit­i­cal force, with omi­nous impli­ca­tions for the par­ty’s per­for­mance in the ensu­ing 2016 cycle.

Into the void stepped Bernie Sanders. He declared that nom­i­na­tions should not be coro­na­tions, and he said that he would run for Pres­i­dent in order to give Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers a choice. And he did exact­ly that, to the aston­ish­ment of many jour­nal­ists and pun­dits who did not take him seri­ous­ly at first.

The 2016 Sanders cam­paign helped lay the ground­work for the rebirth of Demo­c­ra­t­ic pol­i­tics in the ash­es of the cat­a­stroph­ic loss­es of 2016.

The 2020 Sanders cam­paign affirmed that pro­gres­sive ideas were here to stay, car­ry­ing for­ward the work of the 2016 campaign.

It was evi­dent from the very first 2020 debates that the 2016 Sanders cam­paign had influ­enced the ideas of almost every­one in the entire Demo­c­ra­t­ic field this cycle. The total lack of inter­est in the cam­paigns of can­di­dates like John Delaney, and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic elec­torate’s emphat­ic rejec­tion of Michael Bloomberg’s can­di­da­cy, has demon­strat­ed that Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers don’t want a rich, unapolo­getic neolib­er­al or for­mer Repub­li­can as the head of the party.

What lega­cy will Sanders’ 2020 cam­paign leave? It’s hard to know exact­ly at this junc­ture, as the cam­paign has only just come to an end. With the pas­sage of time, it will be eas­i­er to dis­cern what effects it has had on Amer­i­can politics.

But I believe the Sanders cam­paign will be judged favor­ably and kind­ly by his­to­ri­ans and schol­ars and oth­ers who study Amer­i­can politics.

I imag­ine a great many Bernie Sanders sup­port­ers are feel­ing dis­ap­point­ed right now. Maybe even heart­bro­ken. And it’s okay to feel that. Real­ly, it is.

But dis­ap­point­ment should also be mixed with pride. And hap­pi­ness. Again, this cam­paign can­not and should not be mea­sured sole­ly by whether it secured a pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion because it was always about so much more than that.

It’s tempt­ing, on a day like today, to feel like pick­ing up your ball and going home. But, if you sup­port­ed Bernie Sanders and tru­ly believe this coun­try needs a polit­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion, then your path for­ward is clear. You owe it to your­self and the com­mu­ni­ty you’re a part of to con­tin­ue your polit­i­cal involvement.

And there are many ways in which you can do that.

For instance, you can join an exist­ing pro­gres­sive non­prof­it like this one. (We’re recruit­ing for sev­er­al staff posi­tions!) You can build new pro­gres­sive infra­struc­ture in your com­mu­ni­ty. Or, you can remain focused on elec­toral pol­i­tics and piv­ot to work­ing on a down­bal­lot cam­paign. There are a lot of can­di­dates run­ning for oth­er offices who would like your time, tal­ent, and treasure.

On the elec­toral front, think about how many posi­tions the peo­ple of the Unit­ed States elect in a giv­en four year peri­od. We don’t just choose slates of elec­tors for the Elec­toral Col­lege every four years. We elect Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors. Gov­er­nors. Attor­neys gen­er­al. Sec­re­taries of state. State leg­is­la­tors. May­ors. City coun­cilmem­bers. Coun­ty com­mis­sion­ers. School board mem­bers. Even judges and jus­tices in many states are elected.

If you have enjoyed see­ing Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez, Rashi­da Tlaib, Ayan­na Press­ley, and Ilhan Omar at work in Con­gress for the last fif­teen months, then con­sid­er com­mit­ting your­self to get­ting more can­di­dates like them elect­ed. It’s a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion year, but again, there’s so much more that is on the ballot.

While this orga­ni­za­tion does not endorse can­di­dates or engage in elec­tion­eer­ing for or against any can­di­date — it’s out­side the scope of what we do at NPI — I per­son­al­ly want to defeat Don­ald Trump this autumn, so I’ll be vot­ing for Joe Biden with­out reser­va­tion, and I encour­age every­one else to do the same.

But I don’t just want to win the Elec­toral Col­lege this year. I want to see vic­to­ries for Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates and pro­gres­sive caus­es up and down the ballot.

Being able to reflect and take stock is an impor­tant skill. Bernie Sanders set a real­ly good exam­ple for his sup­port­ers today with his remarks with­draw­ing from the race. He was thought­ful and con­tem­pla­tive. The Sen­a­tor did not trash Joe Biden, or say he could nev­er sup­port him. He did not say he was exit­ing pol­i­tics, or ceas­ing his involve­ment in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. Quite the opposite.

Fol­low the exam­ple he is set­ting if you want to be a leader who gets results.

As he said: “Let us go for­ward togeth­er. The strug­gle continues.”

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