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2020 is a friendlier field to progressive candidates like Sanders

ByMeghan Gauld

Mar 6, 2019

The 2020 Democratic primary is a race that has been taking shape since the staggering blow the party faced in 2016. Three years later, the field for the democratic primary shows a remarkable range of women and minorities, most with progressive agendas. The candidacy of Bernie Sanders adds to the depth of this field. His experience on the campaign trail and with grassroots movements proves this. Sanders’ 2016 campaign brought him from relative obscurity as a Vermont senator to widespread popularity as a presidential candidate, with an unprecedented progressive agenda.
The sheer ideological difference between Sanders and his opponents differentiated him, giving the electorate a more liberal option than they had in Hilary Clinton or any Republican. And it’s been clear since his 2016 loss that Sanders intended to try again. He never stopped campaigning or reaching out to the electorate.

Many write Sanders off as too old. Others argue he’ll trigger a repeat of 2016, in which many of his core supporters refused to support Clinton and thus made winning easier for her Republican opponent, but this argument ignores the remarkable number of progressive candidates running for the nomination in 2020. If Sanders loses the primary, the winning candidate will likely be ideologically similar to him. The party’s perceptible shift to the left means moderate candidates will be unlikely to appeal to their party in this election cycle.

Meanwhile, more progressive Democrats like Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard, and Beto O’Rourke (if he runs) will be in stronger positions to win the primary, and each can match Sanders issue for issue. The vast distance between Clinton, an establishment Democrat, and Sanders, with his progressive idealism, will not exist in 2020. If Sanders loses the primary, his supporters will be able to cast a vote for the winning democrat, especially if they’re aware of the high stakes involved in pushing Trump out of office.

Ultimately, Sanders has just as much a right to run as does any Democrat. His 2016 campaign paved the way for the more liberal field of candidates taking shape now. Of course his campaign trail will be much more difficult, considering the fragmentation of his support between a number of equally qualified and ideologically similar candidates. The donations he received will be split as well, considering promises from Warren and Harris to fund their campaign through grassroots movements. But as long as Sanders concedes defeat should it befall him, his 2020 campaign won’t be a liability to the Democratic party – only an incentive to other candidates to enhance their own campaigns.

Sanders gave the progressive side of America a platform for their solutions to the country’s problems, and a chance to bring the United States up to par with other western nations. His campaign in 2016 brought to light issues that had been ignored before: sweeping campaign finance reform, radical action on climate change, a medicare-for-all system. Sanders’ presence in the 2020 pool in no way detracts from the other candidates – it actually compliments them. His commitment to liberal values, and to the United States, will only force the other democratic candidates to match him and thus give the whole country an opportunity to move forward.


Image: DonkeyHotey via Flickr

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