Open Letter to Senator Sanders

Photographer: Win McNamee/Getty Images North America

Dear Senator Sanders:

First, let me thank you for your decades of public service for the people of your home state of Vermont as well as for those of us who live elsewhere in the country.  Your unique perspective and populist vision have helped to push the Democratic Party towards a more liberal agenda that would have taken years longer if not for your input.  Your laser focus on universal healthcare and income inequality has influenced a younger generation to become more involved in our politics, something so necessary to reach our goals of holding our majority in the House while flipping the Senate and winning the White House.

I feel the need to ask that you now do what is best for our country and the party given the unprecedented situation we are facing.  The coronavirus pandemic, which has for eight weeks been mismanaged, dismissed, downplayed and lied about by Trump and his minions, is so highly contagious that there is nothing else to do for the foreseeable future but to isolate ourselves from everyone we don’t live with to slow the spread.  The virus is going to continue to migrate through the population regardless of what we do until there is a viable vaccine, but we can manage the effects on our healthcare system by spreading out the sickest patients over the longest period of time possible, thereby reducing overall mortality.  This is only going to be possible by maintaining our social isolation, which is not helped by insisting that people leave their homes to congregate in order to cast votes.  The primary is already underway, with little time to switch to mail-in ballots, but the general in November still has the lead time to get such a change in place.  Given the rank incompetence of this entire administration, it has fallen to others in government such as yourself and your cohorts to do what you can to ensure that nothing prevents us from voting Trump out of office in November.  As a US Senator, that should now be your number one focus.

I know that you believe that the good of the many outweighs the good of the one, or the few (Spock).  As a retired nurse with friends in the system, I hope you will seriously consider ending your campaign for the Democratic nomination as soon as possible, not only to protect the primary voters who dare to vote in person and the (generally) elderly poll workers most at risk of the worst outcome from Covid-19, but to also enable you to put your considerable influence behind both the party and your supporters so we can unite behind Joe Biden to end this nightmare Trump presidency.  The threat is real, and you have the power to do now what you waited too long to do in 2016 and rally your supporters to join you in fully supporting Joe Biden’s campaign for the presidency.  The “Bernie or Bust” folks who say they won’t vote for anyone else need you to explain to them that supporting the Democratic nominee is the only viable option if they want to see progressive changes in their lifetimes.  Four more years with Trump’s corruption, racism, xenophobia and misogyny unchecked by the Republican Senate (that will continue to approve lifetime appointments for ‘judges’ deemed as unqualified by the ABA) while his cronies continue to undo regulations and protections for the public and the planet in order to benefit fossil fuel donors may take decades to recover from, if indeed we are able to recover at all.  Cutting off your nose to spite your face is pointless and honestly, not a good look for anyone.  We are now in a pandemic that for eight weeks Trump tried to lie out of existence, with a recession on the horizon.  There has never been more proof of the existential threat we face as a result of Trump being president.

It is now clear that the number of votes you received during the 2016 primary were in part due to anti-Hillary sentiment within the primary electorate.  With a much less divisive opponent in Joe Biden, you haven’t reached anywhere near the proportion of pledged delegates necessary to win the nomination, and now, you would need win around 67% of all the votes in the remaining primary states.  There is no realistic path to accomplish this, barring something catastrophic.

The Democratic voters are speaking loudly and clearly, Senator Sanders.  Please do not take their voices as a rebuke of you or your policies.  They are clear-eyed and recognize that, at this pivotal moment in our democratic experiment, we cannot enact the progressive policies so many of us want to see unless and until we remove Trump and the Republican Party from their current positions of power.  Your particularly brand of Democratic Socialism and personal way of communicating have their drawbacks, and the majority of voters don’t believe you can beat Trump in November.  Your coalition of young voters hasn’t materialized in sufficient numbers to matter to your candidacy, a poorer reflection on them than on you, but the outcome is what it is.  This is not the national party manipulating things to impede your campaign; these are the grassroots voters, casting their ballots for Joe Biden.  Coloring these election results as anything except the actual wishes of the voters should cease immediately.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  Edmund Burke

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