Bernie Sanders announced the termination of his presidential campaign on Wednesday, April 8th. This announcement came after waning in popularity, specifically after frontrunner Joe Biden swept unexpectedly in various primary votes. With Sanders’ termination, Biden’s campaign has been freed up to take the Democratic nomination. But is that what the Democrats want?
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
Bernie Sanders’ impact on the Democratic party is irreversible and hard to ignore. His progressivism and so-called “radical” ideas have ushered American Democrats farther to the left than ever before. Sanders, a self-proclaimed “socialist democratic,” has now run two failed presidential bids, and nonetheless cemented himself as a household name in progressive American politics. Sanders is particularly loved by college students and millennials under 30, who find his policies, particularly his idealist shouts for free college and single-payer healthcare, appealing.
Sanders is a crusader for the unrecognized, the unpopular. His impact on politics and surge in popularity since 2016 are one and the same. His call for massive economic equality and prioritizing the climate crisis have paved the way for copycat statements from other 2020 candidates. Sanders is an idealist for the Democratic policies of America, but nonetheless, he’s caught fire for his ideals and has encouraged others to do the same. Sanders’ impact lies in his ability to engage the youth in the issues that ignite passion. He’s targetted the most apathetic group of voters and has called to their interests, sparking a movement in youth engagement in politics. Of course, other candidates would want to do the same, and of course, they haven’t been able to do it as well as Sanders.
Settling for Biden
Comparatively, Biden is a more conservative candidate than Sanders. Among the social media sphere, younger voters and brands are taking advantage of Biden’s unfavorable politics, marking a vote for him as settling for Biden. In other words, Sanders’ termination has inspired a fervent sentiment of “anybody but Trump” in many young voters. Sanders’ was publicized as a popular choice for progressive teens and millennials, and his termination has led to banding together under Biden, only for the purpose of beating President Trump. Merch companies have capitalized on this idea the most. “Settle for Biden” shirts have started to litter social media, hashtags have been created, and the movement to avenge the Democratic party versus Trump is entering its full-swing.
The problem, then, arises when Biden’s politics don’t match the ideals of the youth. Just because many are siding with his campaign doesn’t mean he’s a first-choice candidate for younger voters. It’s evident that Sanders’ impact has sliced deeper than the conservative, tired politics of Biden. Sanders, while he may cap his presidential attempts at two, has unmistakably altered Democratic politics and policy, especially with regards to the way the youth embrace politics. It’s Sanders’ world now; Biden is just living in it.
The Future of the Democratic Party
It’s unclear how the Democratic party is going to proceed, post-2020. Speculations of a complete party split have flown since 2016, and Sanders’ prominence in the 2020 election has only heightened said rumors. While it seems like a full split pre-election is unlikely, considering the fact that the party is more focused on the outcome of the election than their party standing, one thing is for absolute certain. Bernie Sanders has shifted the leftist-party further left, even if ever so slightly. His rousing rallies and passionate speeches have appealed widely to even the most conservative members of the party, in one way or another. Even though Sanders may never win the presidency, he has won a place in the Democratic heart. Love him or hate him, Sanders’ impact is undeniable: this is his party.