Three years have demonstrated the extent of Donald Trump’s moral depravity, personal instability and disregard for our constitution and rule of law. But the impeachment investigation has proven beyond a reasonable doubt the nefarious lengths to which he has gone and will, go to steal a second term in office. Trump’s shameless willingness to cheat paired with his considerable advantage in the electoral college highlight the necessity of selecting a Democratic candidate who will defeat the president by the widest possible margins and in the most important places. For the energy of his supporters, the diversity of his movement and the infallibility of his character, Bernie Sanders is best suited to lead the Democratic Party to victory.
There have generally been two schools of thought regarding the surest Democratic path to the White House. The first asserts that a moderate candidate, with broad appeal to swing voters and to college-educated, Trump-wary Republicans, could clinch victory under his or her big tent (Biden, Klobuchar). The second sees turnout as the tool of choice. An energized left-wing base, excited for a candidate’s vision and passion, would surge to the polls and decide the election without the support of the mystified middle (Sanders, Warren). But of the Obama-Trump voters who switched their vote back to Democrat in 2018, 83 percent support Medicare for all. If this crucial group of voters swings on a factor apart from political leaning, it would be a mistake to chase them with a politically moderate candidate.
Sanders’ ability to excite his base is undeniable. He has received more donations than any politician in history and has the largest network of volunteers. He consistently tops polls of youth voters and beats Trump in head-to-head matchups. But thanks to his extraordinary fundraising numbers, you’ve probably heard this before from his small-dollar-funded ad campaign.
The Joe Biden campaign also regularly touts his poll numbers against the president’s, and he may well be right. But these numbers hide the lurking danger in nominating a man with Biden’s history.
Trump is relatively immune from scandal; Democrats are not. This is a sad truth that must be reversed in the long-term but heavily considered right now. In this regard, Biden is a mirror image of Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Hillary Clinton is not corrupt. But her reputation is eclipsed by the image of corruption built confidently by the Republican Party. The decades-long “vast right-wing conspiracy” to discredit Hillary Clinton was so blatant and cartoonish that, as a caricature of itself, it could become invisible. Her dutiful handling of the Benghazi Embassy attack was castigated as treason by the GOP. Her email server folly was held up as a deception so sinister that it dwarfed Donald Trump’s history of housing discrimination against black people, trail of bankruptcies, refusal to release his tax returns, courting Russian interference in the American democratic process and on-tape confession to sexual assault. Trump’s history is irrelevant to his voters; a Democrat’s history can sink them.
Joe Biden has devoted his career to public service, and as such has an entire career to examine. As a clear Washington insider, he fits perfectly into Trump’s archetypical politician Trump is necessary to defeat. If Biden was a winning candidate before Trump’s traitorous move to force Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son, that status is now surely diminished. Furthermore, no one who voted for the Iraq War has ever been elected president.
The Ukraine ordeal is Biden’s email scandal. The news media, desperate to appear even-handed, will continue to report on it as Republicans investigate this misstep as though it were a crime. “Both sides are bad,” Trump will argue. “I’m the outsider necessary to do the dirty work in the Washington swamp.” The voters may listen, and that is a risk we cannot afford to take.
With Bernie Sanders, we won’t have to.
Sanders’ career in public service bleeds authenticity. He has always been an advocate for the working class and has never backed away from standing up to powerful corporations and special interests. He has the highest favorability ratings of any Democrat because he fights for what he believes in and always has. Sanders is the perfect counterweight to Trump because he has no significant baggage or past scandal. In fact, the worst Fox News seems to be able to dig up on his is that he has made over a million dollars in book sales (which he wants to pay higher taxes on). Sanders holds the outsider status Trump fakes, as well as the policy proposals most in line with American voters.
If electability isn’t enough for those who don’t support his grander policy proposals, rest assured: There is no magic wand to achieve them. Any serious path to Medicare for All would run through the immensely popular public option. An economic restructuring of the scale required by a Green New Deal may be out of reach in Congress. But a president who prioritizes rather than denies climate science is indispensable in combating the world’s greatest threat. Popular infrastructure investment — which, from Trump, is a scam to deliver tax cuts to the wealthy — would be a central tenet to a Sanders presidency, to the benefit of the economy and environment.
America deserves a break from the crippling pessimism that has defined our politics for a generation. We deserve a visionary over a demagogue. And we deserve the ability to march proudly toward a bright and beckoning future rather than slouch toward cynical stagnation. Bernie Sanders can lead us there.
That any Democrat would be derided as a Socialist negates Sanders’ greatest vulnerability. That he rises passionately to the best of what America can be bolsters his once-longshot bid. We must enthusiastically cast our votes for whoever the Democrats nominate for president. To ensure enough of the country does, too, let us canvas, donate and spread the word to friends and family, then nominate Bernie Sanders.
Elijah Fox is a junior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. What Does the Fox Say? runs every other Thursday this semester.