Last month, when the Democratic presidential primary field was jam-packed, "xanar" posted his or her idea of a candidate unity pledge on Daily Kos. Voters could also swear to it.
"Never have the choices been more stark; never have the stakes been so high," goes the gist of the pledge. "Winning the White House and taking both chambers of Congress in 2020 is far more important than the ambitions of any one person; 'e pluribus unum' must be our motto against all who seek to divide us. Benjamin Franklin is often quoted as saying that we 'have a republic, if you can keep it.' He also said 'We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.'
"...Vote Blue, no matter who. Cast aside any differences you may have had with the nominees. Vote as if your life depends on it — because it does and so does the continued existence of the United States as the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave."
It's now Joe Biden versus Bernie Sanders. Biden romped again Tuesday, lengthening his delegate lead.
"The one thing Sanders and Biden supporters agree on almost universally: Trump has to go," Amber Phillips wrote in Wednesday's Washington Post. "Biden seems to be taking that direction with Sanders’s fans now."
She quoted the former VP's Tuesday night remarks: “I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion. We share a common goal. And together, we will defeat the Donald Trump. … We need you, we want you, and there’s a place in our campaign for each of you.”
Doubtless, Sanders would have spread down the welcome mat to Biden backers if he were leading the delegate hunt.
Sanders told the press Wednesday morning that he is staying in the race. He challenged "my friend Joe Biden" over policies on which they disagree, including as Medicare-for-all; he said he's looking forward to their Sunday night debate.
But tellingly, Sanders focused his fire on Trump.
"Donald Trump is the most dangerous president in the modern history of our country," he said.
The senator poured it on: Trump is a corrupt, "pathological liar" who thinks he's "above the law." He's "a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe and a religious bigot," he added.
"He must be defeated, and I will do everything in my power to make that happen."
In addition, Sanders touched on what, to him, must be one of the most--if not the most--frustrating factor in his second bid for the presidency: "I cannot tell you how many people our campaign has spoken to who have said, and I quote, 'I like what your campaign stands for. I agree with what you campaign stands for but I'm going to vote for Joe Biden because I think Joe is the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump,' end of quote. We have heard that statement all over this country."
I've heard the same thing, time and again, in my neck of the deep western Kentucky woods.
There's precedent in American history, the subject I taught for two dozen years. In 1860, the anti-slavery Republican Party (a vastly different party than the current GOP) nominated the more moderate Abraham Lincoln for president over abolitionist Sen. William H. Seward.
Many Republicans agreed with Seward more than with Lincoln. In the end, they chose Lincoln because they believed he was more electable. (I suspect Seward was as frustrated at how the convention went as Sanders is with primary voters so far. Lincoln made Seward his secretary of state.)
Sanders also said that polls show him beating Biden among young voters and reveal "that a strong majority of the American people support our progressive agenda," notably Medicare-for-all. I've seen the same polls, and I know a slew of Kentuckians who support Medicare-for-all--or at least a public option to start--who plan to vote for Biden in our May 19 primary.
Even so, at the risk of getting slammed by Bernie Bros and Anybody-But-Bernie ConservaDems, I have said all along that more unites Biden and Sanders than divides them. "They’ll never. . . admit it, but Biden and Sanders actually agree on far more than they disagree," Bill Press wrote Wednesdayin The Hill online. Press hosts “The Bill Press Pod” and he authored From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.
If Sanders comes up short again, I fervently hope he stays a Democrat this time. But if he doesn't, I just as fervently hope he keeps challenging my party to start re-nourishing its Rooseveltian roots.
Press added, "Both champion universal health care, raising the minimum wage, raising taxes on the wealthy, wiping out student debt, making college affordable, if not free, and leading the fight against climate change. They differ only on how to get there [italics mine]. For Sanders, it’s revolution, or sudden change. For Biden, it’s evolution, or gradual change. Democrats must decide how far and how fast they want to go.
"But here’s what’s more important: Whatever they choose, revolution or evolution, they’re both paths to the same progressive goals. And those goals were first set by Sanders in 2016. That’s why I argue that Sanders has already won the Democratic primary." (Clearly, Biden is more liberal than he was when he was in the Senate or VP. Check out his website.)
If Sanders comes up short again, I fervently hope he stays a Democrat this time. But if he doesn't, I just as fervently hope he keeps challenging my party to start re-nourishing its Rooseveltian roots. "Today in the second decade of the 21st century, we must take up the unfinished business of the New Deal and carry it to completion," he saidin a 2016 speech that Vox's Tara Golshan quoted in a story. "... We must recognize that in the 21st century, in the wealthiest county in the history of the world, economic rights are human rights. That is what I mean by Democratic socialism."
Golshan pointing out that FDR "made the same call for an economic bill of rights: for health care, affordable housing, racial equality, a clean environment, and a living wage." He did indeed.
Yet she warned that "a democratic socialist in America still has to define their vision in terms that Americans can understand--and can fit into a fiercely capitalistic society."
Interestingly, some of the same polls Sanders talks about also show that a lot of young people are cool with democratic socialism. So is this septuagenarian whose heroes in history include, besides FDR and Lincoln, old-time democratic socialists Eugene V. Debs and Norman Thomas.