The constant influx of coronavirus updates across the internet was broken up by Bernie Sanders’ announcement of his dropout from the presidential race. For so many Democrats, myself included, Sanders was a light in the dark tunnel in which we have been living for the past four years. His policy proposals were progressive and considerate of the less fortunate in our country. Having ended his campaign, the Democratic National Committee’s presidential bid will go to his last standing opponent: Joe Biden.
This change in course feels highly akin to the results of the 2016 race for the Democratic primary. When Sanders ended his campaign, it was unlikely that he could have taken the nomination, being that he was so far behind Biden in the vote count. Sanders has maintained similar stances through both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, which many considered far too “radical.” Undoubtedly, many Democrats were fearful that in the general election, voters would be hesitant to embrace his ideas. On the other hand, Biden, like Hillary Clinton in 2016, is a far more moderate candidate, making him an appealing choice for a wider range of voters and the Democratic National Committee itself. Consequently, some Sanders supporters are reluctant to grant their vote to Biden.
Sanders’ demographic is primarily young people, many of whom have taken to the internet to express their frustration in the wake of his decision. They have coined the phrase “Bernie or Bust” to express their refusal to vote for Biden in the general presidential election. Some of these supporters have stated that they will not be voting in the election at all, or that they will be writing Sanders on the ballot instead.
As much as I stand for Sanders’ positions, this is an irresponsible use of one’s right to vote. Once again, we find ourselves set to watch a battle between two nonoptimal old white men. The position we have been put in — forced to choose the lesser of two evils — is far from ideal. Nevertheless, this is the reality we find ourselves in, and we must use our votes wisely despite the circumstances.
Many of us may wonder what the effect of our vote even is, since we live in the blue state of California. This is not a swing state, and because of the electoral college, it can be assumed that California will go to whoever the Democratic nominee is. However, your vote is still needed. Safe states haven’t always been safe states: The position of the state either changes or stays the same through the votes of individuals.
In the 2016 election, we saw a battle between the popular vote and the electoral college. The people chose Clinton, and the system chose Donald Trump. This is definitely a testament to the corruption inherent in our system. Without the quantity of individual voters, this corruption wouldn’t have been exposed. More so, if you don’t go to the polls in November, your vote for local positions and propositions will also go unconsidered. If anything, you should feel a stronger desire to vote in local elections, as the outcome of these elections will impact you more directly.
While Biden doesn’t hold the same policy views as Sanders, let’s have a look at how they compare to Trump’s.
Following Sanders’ announcement, Biden took to the stage and addressed Sanders supporters. He assured us, “I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country.” This may seem unconvincing to many of us, but Sanders himself has endorsed his former competitor. In a joint livestream appearance, he said to Biden, “We need you in the White House. And I will do all that I can to see that that happens.” Following Sanders’ endorsement came the endorsements of former President Barack Obama and previous candidate Elizabeth Warren. The fact that these figures have turned their support toward Biden enhances the importance of our support to Biden.
This being said, I find a “blue no matter who” mindset to be an ignorant one. There is much more to consider about a candidate than simply the political party they identify with. It is important to research candidates and be clear about their stance on different issues. Just because someone identifies with a certain party doesn’t mean that their views or voting record align with said party.
However, what I do want to stress is the importance of your vote. A vote for Biden is not only that, but it is also a vote against Trump. Many of us believe that Trump’s position in the White House has been a major step in the wrong direction for our country. Sanders’ proposals of Medicare for All, cancellation of college debt and the Green New Deal gave us hope for the future. We must continue to fight for these progressive causes. While Biden doesn’t hold the same policy views as Sanders, let’s have a look at how they compare to Trump’s.
Biden’s campaign prioritizes healthcare, environmental issues and the economy. He proposes to protect the Affordable Care Act and lower the age of eligibility for Medicare. As for the environmental crisis, Biden promises that he will lead our country toward net-zero emissions by 2050. Biden favors an increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and an overall strengthening of support for the middle working class. Comparatively, Trump has been working to repeal Obamacare, leading to an increasing number of uninsured Americans. He has pulled our country out of the Paris Climate Agreement, with the intent to continue drilling and rescind the Clean Power Plan. Trump has decreased unemployment, which still stands high, but tax cuts for the upper class have affected the country elsewhere — for example, bringing about the increase in uninsured Americans. Trump has prioritized the 1%. Biden’s policies are not as progressive as Sanders’. They are, however, monumentally better than Trump’s.
We needn’t give up on the things that Sanders promised us; we can continue to strive for the implementation of those policies. Biden gives us the best possible chance for these desired changes to come to fruition. As we move closer to the November election, I ask you to take this into consideration. Your right to vote is one of the privileges of living in a democratic society. Use it wisely. It’s Biden or Bust.
Sophia Lovell implores you to consider the importance of your vote.