Democrats Need To Defeat Trump. Bernie Sanders Can’t Do It.

Ali Caudle, Reporter

         After a massive victory in Nevada on Feb. 22, Senator Bernie Sanders looks to be the clear frontrunner among the eight Democrats still fighting for the party’s nomination for president. As the Nevada caucus results were released, the nation learned that Sanders won by a staggering 25% margin over Joe Biden, who came in second place.

         Historically, by this point in the process it’s pretty obvious who will become a party’s eventual nominee. Of the past five Democratic nominees, 4 of them won the Nevada caucus. However, this race for the 2020 nomination has been atypical because of the sheer number of candidates. Even now, 6 of the 8 remaining are considered viable.

         Every primary vote and caucus leading up to the Democratic National Convention in July, where the party will select a nominee, is important. With such a crowded field, it’s very possible that no one candidate will possess the majority of the delegates required to secure the nomination. Even so, the candidate with the most support would be likely to become the nominee.

         Right now it’s looking more and more like that person will be Bernie Sanders. While the rest of the field remains divided, he has built a strong core base of progressives. He is getting most of the far left and more liberal votes. Meanwhile, the moderate candidates are splitting the moderate votes.

         Honestly? This scares me. For someone who will be 17 during the general election, thus unable to vote, I spend a lot of time keeping up with all of the different candidates. From what I’ve seen and read and heard, I am convinced that the Democratic Party would be making a giant mistake if they choose Sanders as their presidential nominee.

         I love what Sanders stands for. I agree with his policies. In an ideal world, they are what I want. But I’m not living in an ideal world. I’m living in a realistic one.

         In my world, people are being denied basic human rights because of where they come from, what they look like, who they love, who they are. Families are being torn apart at the southern border. Climate change threatens to destroy our planet – not in centuries but in decades. People can’t afford necessary healthcare or food. Parents can’t afford preschool for their kids, attending college often requires taking on massive debt, and kids of all ages are scared of being shot while getting an education. Under President Trump and the new era of populist right wing conservatism he has ushered in, differences have divided our country.

         I know Sanders sees these problems too. I know he wants to fix them. But right now, the most important thing we can do to begin to fix them is to take Trump out of office. It’s more important that we start to address these issues by taking small steps, making compromises, and showing respect. If Trump remains commander-in-chief for another four years, things will have progressed to such a dire state that we may never be able to recover.

         To defeat Trump, we need a candidate who understands how to compromise. Rather than embracing radical policies only popular on the left, effectively polarizing a large chunk of the population, it is more important to persuade voters by building trust and starting small.

         My problem with Sanders is that I just don’t believe he can defeat Trump. He has demonstrated he has a devoted base, but he can’t unite this country. The majority of the country isn’t far left or far right. Even within the Democratic Party, the majority of voters are split between the more “moderate” candidates. According to the most recent poll on the New York Times website, Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Steyer make up 51% of voter support within the Deomcratic Party. Meanwhile, the more “liberal” candidates make up less overall, as Warren has 13% and Sanders has 28%. That’s around 41% of Democrats, which make up roughly half of the country. It’s not even close to enough to secure a win.

         With such a huge field of potential candidates all vying for the nomination, it can be too hard to separate each one from one another. Over the months the field has narrowed down, but it’s difficult to figure out who the top candidate in a general election would be when the top candidate is only polling at 28%.

         One of the major arguments in favor of Sanders is that he could increase voter turnout. With such an enthusiastic base, his supporters might turn out in large numbers on election day. While important, voter turnout is not nearly as crucial as winning over some conservative voters. The Democratic Party’s nominee cannot afford to alienate them. These voters are most likely what will ultimately determine the winner of the presidency, but will also determine who takes swing districts for state representatives and senators.

         Even if, miraculously, Sanders wins back the White House, what scares me is that he won’t be able to get anything done. The United States has a fairly conservative Congress and a majority conservative Supreme Court. An executive branch led by a self-proclaimed socialist would just create more problems.

         I would prefer small incremental change, gradual compromises to get stuff done, rather than spend years fighting for one large change to maybe succeed. Sanders won’t work with the Republicans, and the Republicans won’t support his plans for free college and universal healthcare. Be real. There’s no clear way he could actually pass any of his radical proposals. We would go nowhere and make no real progress. We need to remember that compromises are the backbone of politics.

         We have to win this election in November. To do that, we need a candidate that can speak to the majority; the majority of Democrats and the majority of the country.

         Ideally most of the nominees would drop out, leaving two or three distinct ones left. But that’s not likely to happen any time soon, at least not with any of the current top six. So as the next states vote in their primaries and caucuses, and as we approach the convention, it’s time for Democrats to stop and think about how the whole party can come together and find someone who represents the majority of us.