Zhu: Democrats must stand united, now more than ever

Caroline Zhu, Staff Columnist

After Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign on Wednesday, Nov. 8, Joe Biden has become the presumptive Democratic Party nominee for this year’s presidential election. This decision comes amidst the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic, which makes it both a responsible decision and one that scatters the Democrats even more than they already are.

Sanders is the face of a new shift in the Democratic Party that would take it back to the left, and even out the scales of an America that shows daily signs of slipping down the slope of right-wing nationalism. Although his campaign has been suspended, it remains important that voters should not feel resigned to vote for Biden during the primaries if they initially intended to vote for Sanders.

In 2016, Sanders trailed behind Hillary Clinton in the primaries, but took a significant 1,800 delegates to the Democratic National Convention. This year, he holds 900 delegates, falling around 300 delegates short of Biden. Although Sanders’ campaign has been suspended, he remains an important political figure in ensuring that the Senate is held accountable for their treatment of middle- and lower-class citizens, as well as their lax treatment of large corporations and wealthy individuals.

However, this is not a call to write-in Sanders in November, or to radically shift directions and perhaps vote independent. This year, more than ever, unity in the Democratic Party is critical to shifting the state of American politics. The party has always struggled with internal dissent stemming from purity politics. Once a candidate loses favor with a sect, they lose favor forever. Voters choose, instead of finding a candidate who they may otherwise agree with or find merit in, to abstain from voting, or worse, to vote independent. As much as I would like to say America’s model of democracy is a fully representative one, it simply isn’t. Choosing to vote against a candidate because of a few stains on their record for the benefit of an incompetent candidate is simply foolish—cutting off your nose to spite your face.

In this case, the 2016 election has shown itself to have dire consequences. When Trump fired the nation’s pandemic response team in 2018 and continued to ignore subsequent warnings from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that there would come a day where there would be a shortage of ventilators and other medically necessary equipment, this administration chose to ignore these problems in favor of dismantling social and environmental organizations within our government.

If the vote is split again in 2020, we already know what lies in our future. It is this pandemic, but worse. What happens next is critical; we all see the signs of a recession lying ahead. The question now, is who do we put in power to make sure that America can survive the struggle ahead? Candidates are only the faces of their campaigns. What is ultimately more important is the people they recruit to help them administer their nation.

In coming years, several Supreme Court seats could be vacated, and the next justices will determine the interpretation of the law for decades to come. The next administration will be the one to choose whether or not to build back infrastructure that could have prevented this crisis from hitting the lows that it has. If not, we may watch as vital social infrastructure is further dismantled and investment in the future and citizens of this nation is thrown aside in favor of maintaining a growing economy.

It is no longer a question of agreeing with all, or even most of the issues a candidate presents. It is the question of what America we will be voting for in November. Sanders endorsed Biden’s campaign for president on Monday, April 13, knowing that if Biden loses this election, it will take decades for this nation to recover. 

What has always failed the Democrats in the past is dissent within the ranks, perhaps because everyone has an opinion and wants to build their own candidate, and in a perfect democracy, that may exist. However, we must acknowledge that under America’s current status, voting is not a personal statement of ethics or morality, but a deliberate choice in the future of this nation—a choice that is ultimately only between two candidates. In the shadow of what happened in 2016, this is the opportunity to institute real, lasting change for the better. We gave the reins of this nation to someone outside of politics four years ago. It is time for legitimate politicians in an administration led by someone America has already trusted in the past. And we can hope that this will be enough.

Caroline Zhu is a second-year computer science student. She is currently asleep and cannot take any messages.