After Bernie Sanders got blown out yet again five days ago, and it became clear that he had no remaining shot at the 2020 Democratic nomination, he decided not to drop out of the race. At the time, the move felt silly. What was he really going to accomplish by remaining in the race and keeping the left divided against itself? Five days later, with America now ensconced in a pandemic, Sanders’ decision to remain in the race feels downright selfish.
So what has Bernie Sanders gotten for his trouble? The only thing he has to show for it is tonight’s debate against Joe Biden. The coronavirus crisis has advanced to the point that there won’t even be a live audience. Yet Bernie is insisting this debate take place anyway. Not that most people will be a in a mood to watch a pointless debate in an already-decided primary race. When Sanders puts his foot down like this, he usually ends up doing it in a way that harms the nation and harms himself, because it’s just who he is.
Sanders has apparently given Joe Biden a list of questions he plans to ask him during the debate. Okay, what kind of reality show is this supposed to be? If we were dealing with a normal, reasonable person, we might expect that after Biden gives sufficient answers to the questions tonight, Sanders might drop out and endorse him right there on the air. But as we keep seeing, Sanders is neither normal nor reasonable. It’s difficult to argue that any major American political figure has done a worse job of representing the left. His views are worth considering as a platform, but for a painfully long list of reasons that are obvious to everyone outside his cult, he’s not worth considering as a candidate – as most voters keep reminding him.
So this debate tonight had better be worth it. Joe Biden is the de facto Democratic nominee, and everyone outside the Sanders cult is already lining up behind him. The only way we’re getting Donald Trump out of office is if we unite behind Biden as quickly and thoroughly as possible. But Bernie Sanders has a small bit of leverage remaining, and he’s using it to force this debate to happen, before he gets blown out in all four states this upcoming Tuesday. If Sanders doesn’t endorse Biden tonight or tomorrow, his last bit of relevance will be gone, as the nation fully turns its focus to surviving the pandemic and ousting Donald Trump.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report