Sanders drops out of presidential race and endorses Biden

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US Senate Public Domain | Wikimedia Commons

Angelica Tejada

Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race and endorsed his ex-rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, on April 8. The Vermont senator’s decision was surprising, as Sanders dropping out of the race seemed unlikely even though his chances of beating Biden at the Democratic primaries were very slim.

“I want to express to each of you my deep gratitude for helping to create an unprecedented grassroots political campaign that has had a profound impact in changing our nation,” Sanders said in a live-streamed video announcing the suspension of his presidential campaign.

Only a few months ago, Sanders was the clear front-runner of the race after winning in multiple states and coming out successful from the Democratic debates. Eager young voters were attracted to Sanders and the progressive initiatives he passionately proposed.

However, the victories came to a halt after Biden began gaining popularity among black voters and won at large in South Carolina, Michigan and Florida. On top of losing in these crucial states also came the coronavirus pandemic, which distracted from Sanders’ efforts toward attracting more supporters.

“I wish I could give you better news, but I think you know the truth. And that is we are now some 300 delegates behind Vice President Biden, and the path toward victory is virtually impossible,” Sanders said. “Please know that I do not make this decision lightly. In fact, it has been a very difficult and painful decision.”

Less than a week after dropping out of the race, Sanders endorsed Biden and encouraged his progressive supporters to back the only person that can stop the reelection of President Donald Trump.

“I believe that it’s irresponsible for anybody to say, ‘Well, I disagree with Joe Biden – I disagree with Joe Biden! – and therefore I’m not going to be involved,’” Sanders said during an interview with The Associated Press.

Biden and Sanders differ when it comes to their stances on key issues like health care, student debt, climate change and wealth inequality. But Sanders was left with no other choice than to back the only person that can beat Trump.

Health care presents itself as the most important issue in America today as the coronavirus pandemic leaves many with bills they cannot pay. The average total charges for hospitalized COVID-19 patients range from $42,486 to $74,310 depending on severity, according to an analysis by independent non-profit organization FAIR Health.

The issue of health care is one in which Biden and Sanders are most distinct because Biden does not support a universal government-run health insurance program like “Medicare for All,” which Sanders strongly supports.  

Biden’s vision for health care in the United States includes protecting the Affordable Care Act, which was signed by former President Barack Obama in 2010 with Biden by his side.

“Instead of starting from scratch and getting rid of private insurance, he has a plan to build on the Affordable Care Act by giving Americans more choice, reducing health care costs, and making our health care system less complex to navigate,” Biden’s official presidential campaign website states.

For Biden to gain full support from Sanders’ supporters, he will have to lean toward the progressive ideas that Sanders’ campaign was focused on pushing forward. Sanders’ supporters chose him because he presents new initiatives for the U.S. government that Biden has not backed up yet.

Sanders can play a key role in helping shift Biden’s ideas to mirror what young voters, who largely sided with Sanders, want to change and see happen within the government. There isn’t a guarantee that Biden can move toward the progressive side when it comes to his initiatives, but he has acknowledged Sanders’ supporters and wants to earn their vote.

After Sanders’ dropping out announcement, Biden issued a statement to Sanders and his supporters. “I make the same commitment: I see you. I hear you and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country,” Biden said, according to CNN. “I hope you will join us. You are more than welcome. You’re needed.”

Backing Biden as a Sanders supporter may come from the same sentiment that Sanders also projected, which is one that is based on acting responsibly.

This isn’t the end for Sanders and that’s important for his supporters to understand. Even after the coronavirus pandemic, Sanders will be as active and persistent when it comes to fighting for equality on every level for all Americans.

“While this campaign is coming to an end, our movement is not. Please stay in this fight with me,” Sanders tweeted.