I think this is a great video for Bernie Sanders, and I hope he recovers quickly.
I was pretty turned off by some acquaintances crowing about how “Bernie Bros” need to get in line behind Elizabeth Warren after being hospitalized. I thought it was in very poor taste. Elizabeth Warren has been my dream candidate since before the 2016 primary, but I don’t believe that either of the people posting in favor of Warren would be supporting her if Bernie wasn’t soaking up the criticism of defining the left edge of politics.
I will have an extremely hard time deciding between Sanders and Warren if the primary is still contested when Oregon votes. They are far and away my first and second choice candidates. But part of the lesson I took from 2016 was that some people voted by trying to scry the winds and choosing the best candidate that would get a huge majority, and other people voted to change the weather. This time around, I wanted to help create the weather.
The plane of possibility is shifting so very quickly. I don’t think Beto O’Rourke has a chance in hell of moving forward as a presidential candidate and I think it was a remarkable act of hubris for him to run in the first place, but I’ve been so delighted by his choice to stop triangulating and confidently and plainly state his gun control realism: “…I want to be really clear that [gun buybacks are] exactly what we’re going to do. Americans who own AR-15s and AK-47s will have to sell them to the government.” Júlian Castro and immigration, Jay Inslee and climate change, and Marianne Williamson (!) and reparations serve the same purpose (I loathe Williamson, but she got to a truth when she referred to the “dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country,” that Hillary Clinton, hobbled into ineloquence by her politician filter, tried to get at with the “deplorables” comment ).
Against the backdrop of these legitimately courageous positions, Joe Biden seems like a man from another time, like an old social studies textbook or an old government building with trash bags covering the water fountain next to a laminated sign warning about lead testing. One of the most important functions Bernie Sanders serves in this primary is to deflate Biden’s self-satisfied narrative of his legislative record in the Senate. Sanders has kept to a very consistent moral compass in his life in public service on domestic issues as well as foreign policy issues. Biden has done the best he could to help the most number of people–once the interests of the powerful have been satisfied. Most politicians do that calculus, all that changes is who is considered powerful. Sanders seems not to, and that is the heart of his appeal to those who have put their hope in him.
I’m rambling now, but all of this is to say that when I read that post prematurely dancing on Bernie Sanders grave, it felt to me like that person was choosing to pretend that the issues that are most important to me because they will define my adult life–student loan debt, housing, the climate, single payer healthcare, LGBT employer nondiscrimination–are all less important than perpetuating animus against a politician who has completely transformed the way that Democrats are talking about these issues. If there’s a candidate like Hillary Clinton running in this race, it’s Joe Biden, and it wasn’t good enough for me in 2016 and it isn’t good enough for me now. Please, by all means, vote for Elizabeth Warren and get excited about her policy ideas, just don’t be shitty about the person who cleared the way for her ideas to be viable.