Every day of the last month has felt like the gradual yanking off of a Band-Aid. For Bernie Sanders supporters, the bandage was finally pulled off last week following his campaign suspension. In his candidacy’s absence, we’re left with an open wound: Joe Biden.
Although Sanders concluded his campaign, he’ll still be on the ballot in this year’s remaining primaries. At this stage, votes for Sanders secure more delegates for him to bring to the Democratic National Convention, which grants him more influence over the party’s platform.
As for the general election, Biden’s position as the projected Democratic nominee hasn’t been met with uproarious enthusiasm within the party. The “unifying” candidate is having trouble unifying the left, particularly with young voters. Across the country, student coalitions for Sanders have refused to endorse Biden. A tidal wave of these student groups took to Twitter over the weekend, with individual accounts posting the phrase “We are not endorsing Joe Biden.”
The anti-endorsements aren’t a surprise by any means. Biden’s “edge” is that he’s a moderate democrat, like a one-trick pony-faced soldier. He’s running on a platform of nostalgia for the country before 2016, the very stretch of time which primed and seasoned the U.S. to elect Donald Trump. We can’t, and shouldn’t, go back to the Obama era and pretend like none of this ever happened.
To Sanders supporters, ponyboy-solider-face Joe Biden represents the very systems, institutions and behaviors that led to our current political situation – with good reason, too. Biden has enabled, upheld and helped engineer the systems, institutions and behaviors of inequity time and time again. Plus, what is malarkey on like a structural level?
Endorsing Biden is symbolic for these groups. Especially given recent allegations of sexual misconduct.
If we’re not undoing the systems that made this possible, what are we doing? Both presidential elections I’ve participated in have forced me to choose the “lesser of two evils.” Younger Sanders supporters point out that we shouldn’t have to choose. Yet here we are, participating in our second election, watching democracy dissolve on cable news. Or, your apartment windows if you’re in Wisconsin.
There’s nothing more incurious and sad than insisting this is just how it goes. We deserve more and can do better than the “Any Functioning Adult 2020” bumper stickers as a country. Okay, well. Maybe there will be another election some day.
That said, I think Trump is responsible for more death than Biden. I think Trump has spurred more hate crimes than Biden. While the idea of Trump or Biden leading the largest military in the world frightens me, I don’t think Biden’s family would let him touch any crucial buttons. Another four years of Trump provoke immediate repercussions on the environment. Biden’s climate plans have lacked consistency throughout his career, and although they’re currently not drastic enough (re-entering the Paris Agreement and acting like everything’s fine is not a solution), they pose more urgency and action than those of the present administration.
It does no good to stifle the political fallout of the 2020 Democratic primaries. Having these conversations, making noise and utilizing the force that organized around Sanders leads us in the direction we want to go, so that hopefully in a few years we won’t have to choose between two absurdly cartoonish candidates. Then again, this election being a “choice” is privileged, because it’s a question of rights for someone else.
It also does no good to paint these two candidates as equally terrible. For one, we’ve lived through the Trump administration. If you were to tell me in November of 2016 that in my last semester of college that I’d have to wear a mask at the grocery store and people were ordered not to gather in groups, I probably would’ve believed you – that was the general attitude right after Trump was elected. We watched him ambitiously deny the existence of a pandemic. Tens of thousands of people have died under the Trump administration. We’re in an economic crisis. It’s in the interest of history that an authoritarian right-wing leader is not in power right now.
I’m also not endorsing Pony-Milquetoast, Joe Biden.
Come November, should electoral politics continue to unravel as normal, will I vote Biden? Kicking and screaming, but probably. I really hope something happens before then. But without any organized protest or consensus in revolt, not voting is empty.