FOR THE QC
We are currently living in a political climate like never before. According to research done by Pew Research Center, the U.S. is the most politically polarized it has ever been. A recent CNN poll finds that four in ten respondents believe this is the worst governing they have experienced in their lifetime. The challenges we face in the present will inevitably define the future of American politics. The result of the 2016 election tilted the axis of the nation, and of global politics, but more importantly, what does this mean for the 2020 election?
All research indicates that the U.S. is becoming more politically polarized than ever before, both within the parties and across the aisle. According to the Pew Research Center, Democrats find it 22 percent more difficult and stressful now than two years ago to talk about politics with people they disagree with. We are currently living in a period of realignment among the left and right, according to scholarship from National Affairs.
The current divide within each of the parties is almost as deep as the crevice that separates the Republican party from that of the Democrats. During 2016, the primary election, the Democratic party was split between the support of centrist Hillary Clinton and Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. According to RealClearPolitics, Clinton received approximately 3.7 million votes more than Sanders out of almost 28 million votes cast.
Minorities, members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community, pro-choice activists, and progressive principles have united the Democratic party for almost two centuries. Meanwhile, a large portion of the Democratic party has moved further to the left when it comes to certain issues, while the other portion is more moderate.
Sanders is cool; I get it. He’s been on the right side about history for decades and talks about free education, redistribution of wealth, single-payer healthcare, and has a melody fine-tuned to a generation crippled by student debt and limited economic prospects. He’s quite literally ‘the grandpa that gets it’ and, not only that, everyone loves an insurgent underdog. Despite how cool Sanders is, I believe that he is not the saving grace or a beacon of hope for the Democratic party. Come Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, the only Bern being felt will be heartburn due to a re-election none of us want. Michael Starr Hopkins of The Hill warns, “All the talk about a living wage, single-payer health care, and social justice means nothing if Republicans are re-elected in 2018 and 2020. All the talk about building an economy that works for all Americans means nothing if ‘Bernie bros’ attack every Democrat who isn’t Sanders.”
According to National Public Radio(NPR), there are nine Democrats already running for President in 2020 with a dozen more considering entering the race. Already, many Sanders supporters have attacked the candidates for not being progressive enough. Kamala Harris has been criticized for her criminal justice policies while serving as California’s Attorney General, and Cory Booker has been criticized for taking donations from pharmaceutical companies.
“He isn’t even a registered Democrat, I would love to hear Sanders’s opinion on how the Democratic Party can rebound and rebuild, but it has to be preceded by him actually joining the party, not merely using it as a vessel for his run for president,” Hopkins said. “Democrats are your allies, not your punching bag or your Uber. It’s time for the fantasy to end. Sanders wouldn’t have beaten Trump. He couldn’t even beat Hillary Clinton. Pretending otherwise is completely illogical and only serves to reopen old wounds that ensure more Republican victories”
The choice liberals, specifically Sanders supporters, will be forced to make will be a binary one; either help elect a Democrat who can beat Trump, or contribute to his re-election. The intensity of hate that lingers on the right is far more powerful that the newfound hope we see on the left from the blue wave of 2018. Meaning, even if Bernie somehow secured the Democratic nomination, he would be beaten by Trump. The best thing Bernie Sanders could do for the Democratic party is not run for President in 2020. He can best contribute to the movement by endorsing a Democratic candidate who will incorporate his ideas and has an actual chance of winning the election. Sanders can either contribute to the rise of the left, or he can detrimental to by causing a divide.