Bernie Sanders led a political revolution in 2016 inspiring millions of young people to not only get involved in politics, but to break ideologically from the norm of the Democrat Party. His candidacy and leadership forced the Democrat Party to make a sharp left turn and gave a practical playbook on how to overturn the establishment, making way for upset victories like AOC’s to happen.
At the beginning of the 2020 race, he was the favorite - an untouchable candidate with an army of young people ready to fight in his Revolution. Yet on April 13th, 2020, after Bernie suspended his campaign, he endorsed Joe Biden, a man whom he has nothing in common ideologically speaking.
How did Bernie lose the 2020 race? It comes down to the young supporters that are the lifeblood of his power. In 2016, Bernie was the new and shiny thing. He was campaigning on policies most American politicians had run away from, such as universal healthcare, and free college for all. These ideas were being introduced to my generation seriously for the first time in the political arena. This coupled with the underdog role in which Bernie was cast, made him into a well-meaning revolutionary who called out both sides, which is what most socialists dream of accomplishing. In the eyes of young people, Bernie never really had to run a professional campaign or try to win over voters, instead the movement was a sort of organic growth process.
Now fast forward to 2020 - suddenly Bernie’s policies, which once set him apart, have become commonplace in the Democrat platform, and Bernie is no longer an underdog but rather a real threat the news media is wary of. With Bernie finally becoming the political powerhouse he longed to be in 2016, one would think his young supporters and campaign staff would have buckled down and led Bernie to victory. Oddly that isn’t what happened. Instead they picked fights with people in the news media that should have been allies to them, forced purity tests on everyone who endorsed Bernie, utilized social media to harass and antagonize lifelong Democrats who were uncomfortable with “Democratic Socialism,” shunned lifelong Democrat activists, and most of all never grew Bernie’s base. All of which comes down to proof of immaturity in his base.
His young supporters kept him in a constant state of needing to appease unreasonable and unbearable political expectations, so in order to satisfy them, he was sacrificing the growth of his base. There have been a lot of comparisons made between Bernie’s political Revolution and President Trump’s; however even if the Trump campaign looked disorganized on the outside - on the inside it was run by practical (albeit imaginative and feisty) adults with years of experience in multiple fields, which was never the case inside of Bernie’s campaign.
The youth behind Bernie never let him be a real candidate, nor did they allow him to run a real campaign. Instead they kept him in the permanent ‘Revolution Leader’ role. Idealistically, Americans may like the thought of political Revolution, but at the end of the day, they want things to run the same way they did the day before, only a little bit better.
Article by Freedomists Contributor, Mahgdalen Rose