Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), dropped out of the 2020 presidential race on Wednesday, thrusting the quiet Cornell for Biden group to the forefront of campus candidate groups, and Students for Bernie into an uncertain future.
Sanders, once the Democratic field’s front-runner, championed a brand of democratic socialism historically pushed to the outskirts of American political debate. Support for strong action on climate change, economic redistribution and “Medicare for All” were key cornerstones of Sanders’ platform.
“It is not long ago that people considered these ideas radical and fringe … that is what we have accomplished together,” said Sanders in an address to supporters on Wednesday.
The Vermont Senator announced his withdrawal from the race in a live video at around noon Wednesday. This was Sanders’ second attempt for the White House. Now at age 78, his age and health status drew skepticism this campaign season among a field of diverse candidates.
Today I am suspending my campaign. But while the campaign ends, the struggle for justice continues on. https://t.co/MYc7kt2b16
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 8, 2020
The Cornell Democrats pushed for unity after Sanders’ departure.
“We hope the Democratic Party will now unite behind former Vice President Biden to achieve our ultimate goal of defeating President Trump,” said President Jaia Clingham-David ’20 and Vice President Vale Lewis ’21, who is also a Sun staff writer, in a statement sent to The Sun.
Students for Bernie reflected on Wednesday’s news, and on what may lay ahead in an uncertain future.
“Here on the Cornell campus, we take great pride in what we were able to accomplish,” Students for Bernie said in a statement to The Sun, highlighting their nearly 160-person base of student supporters and campus activism.
Although Sanders’ campaign came to an end, it had a lasting impact on students involved with what became a five-year movement of progressive and populist politics.
“Our hard work was not in vain … we will continue to fight for progressive policies to safeguard the most vulnerable among us,” Students for Bernie’s statement read.
Although harbingers of his dropout came before the COVID-19 pandemic gained a foothold in the United States, its onset essentially paralyzed the organizing abilities of a campaign that, over two election seasons, structured an unprecedented ground game, drawing larger-than-normal crowd sizes.
The Sanders campaign had a significant presence on Cornell’s campus, dating back to the formation of Big Red for Bernie in 2016. This spring, the organization maintained its prominent position on campus — it was one of the largest candidate-surrogate groups and held frequent events. In the weeks leading up to the New Hampshire primary, several members carpooled up the coast to aid the campaign in canvassing voters.
Cornell for Biden has a smaller presence on campus. One metric of that is on social media: Cornell for Biden has four Instagram followers, compared to Students for Bernie’s over 500. As their president David Bromberg ’23 previously told The Sun, “We’re not the loud activists.”
Despite class cancellations and lifestyle changes caused by the coronavirus, Students for Bernie adapted to the circumstances. Moving its operations online, the organizers encouraged student members to keep phone banking and sharing content on social media.
Biden is now the presumptive Democratic nominee to face President Donald Trump in the general election.
In a statement to The Sun, Bromberg issued a message to Sanders supporters: “We want to open our arms and our campaign to you.”
“We have no doubt that the movement Sen. Sanders has fostered will continue on and only grow from here,” Bromberg continued.
On March 28, New York state’s presidential primary, originally scheduled for April 28, was pushed to June 23 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
This piece is part of The Cornell Daily Sun’s new Election 2020 Section. Read more of The Sun’s election coverage here.