The impact of Bernie’s movement and where we go from here


Bernie’s campaign has suspended, but his movement continues. Photo Credit: MCT Campus

Bernie Sanders suspended his 2020 presidential campaign in early April, leaving Joe Biden as the last Democratic candidate in the 2020 presidential election. This was the Brooklyn native’s second time running and dropping out of a presidential race. Some say his campaign, a platform that ran on “Medicare for All,” a $15 federal minimum wage, taxes on the wealthy to create social programs, and many others — has lost for a second time.

But I’m here to say the Bernie Sanders campaign hasn’t lost. The Sanders campaign has solidified irrevocable changes in our political atmosphere. His campaign has inspired a popular movement, one which doesn’t emerge from a hovel towards a polling station every four years to push a button and go home, but which exerts constant pressure on those in power. I would say this is more of a win than recent entire presidential runs have accomplished. In an interview with The Nation in 2014, Sanders said, “A campaign has got to be much more than just getting votes and getting elected. It has got to be helping to educate people, organize people. If we can do that, we can change the dynamic of politics for years and years to come.”

Before his first run in 2016, topics such as Medicare for All in the U.S. were unthinkable. And now, single-payer healthcare has come to the forefront of every American’s mind. In a Gallup poll, American voters cited healthcare as the number one most important issue in the presidential 2020 election. Similar popular movements have been developing in recent years; the Occupy Wall Street Movement of 2011 and Black Lives Matter are a couple. And with the Bernie Sanders campaign, many of these separate movements have found each other, making these movements more stalwart than ever before.

Despite Bernie’s campaign becoming almost synonymous with universal healthcare, and the majority of American voters citing healthcare as their most important issue — Biden is the presumed Democratic 2020 nominee. The American people want secure healthcare that isn’t dependent upon one’s ability (or luck, as we are seeing in 2020) to stay employed. They want liveable wages. Overwhelmingly, Americans want a country that works for everybody, not just the few. And yet, the 2020 primary results did not reflect that because though many Americans agree with Bernie’s policies, many of them do not believe they can get what they want.

On April 8, Sanders announced in a video address that he would suspend his campaign. He also directly addressed the theory of lowered expectations. This theory, which many Americans believe, is that lowering your expectations will get you want you want. In the video, Sanders unabashedly says that if you don’t believe you deserve universal healthcare, you aren’t going to get it, if you don’t believe this world can clean our air and fight climate change, you aren’t going to get it. The majority of people understand which policies will keep people safe. They have won the ideological battle, but simultaneously believe they can never actually win. They believe the establishment, made untouchable with money and power, will always beat them down. That is the biggest self-fulfilling prophecy of recent times. From here, Americans must continue winning the battle of ideas, and believe they can actually win.

Sanders has never been a regular democrat. Few understand this better than the Democratic establishment. Just before the 2020 primaries, six Democratic donors came together at the Manhattan Whitby Hotel to scrape for any other democratic candidates that could jump in and save the race in the last hour, according to an article by the New York Times. These donors decreed the democratic candidates Joseph. R. Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg all unworthy. But one candidate was left completely out of the conversation — a one Mr. Bernard Sanders. In the Democratic establishment’s eyes, his presidency was deemed unthinkable, so much so that he was not even considered at this meeting, despite having an immense amount of support from the American people. This is precisely because Sanders has committed the ultimate sin in the eyes of the democratic establishment: the sin of inciting a mass movement that changes politics far beyond a single presidency. They understand what he’s done, what his movement is continuing to do, and it’s about time we did too.