Democratic unity will provide quality leadership for the nation
There have been 29 candidates competing to become the Democratic nominee for president in 2020. At different points in the electoral process, various candidates decided that there was not a reasonable path to the White House, and they suspended their campaigns. Now, only Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders remain. The standard criterion for support by the voters is that the Democratic candidate for president must be able to defeat Donald Trump at the voting booth.
The first task is to win the support of fellow Democrats. Joe Biden got off to a slow start with that task. In Iowa and New Hampshire, two small states that lacked the racial diversity that is more common elsewhere, Biden trailed other candidates. But on Feb. 29, he overwhelmed the others in South Carolina, and he repeated that performance on the following Super Tuesday. Biden won in Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
Then one week later, on March 10, Biden won Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and Washington. And on March 17, Biden won Florida, Arizona and Illinois. It became clear that Biden had won 1,186 delegates to only 885 for Bernie Sanders. With the total for victory at 1,991, there was little chance that Sanders could catch up to Biden. Some prominent Democrats suggested that it is time for Sanders to suspend his campaign, as had many others before him, so that Democrats could unify in the campaign to defeat Trump.
With the emergence of the coronavirus, the requirement for leadership has now become the ability to manage a major crisis rather than just the ability to defeat Trump. While the devastation created by COVID-19 has distracted many from the demands of the election in November, it is unwise for Democrats to decide that victory is a slam dunk because of Biden’s extraordinary success.
Trump will not be defeated in the election because of the debating prowess of the Democratic opponent. Trump will say or do anything to win. The Washington Post has calculated that Trump has told 16,241 lies or misleading claims in his three years in office. His supporters find such conduct to be acceptable. Many of Trump’s working-class supporters remain loyal even though their loyalty provides very little material benefits. Democrats will have to convince marginal Trump supporters that a different quality of leadership is more beneficial.
The most ill-advised of actions is to have Sanders and Biden sniping at each other while Americans are fully concerned with how to survive COVID-19. Trump has been clearly ineffective as the leader to assuage the public’s fears. The emergence of a sound Democratic Party leader is required.
Failure of the Democrats to fill this void could be politically damaging. Trump’s obsequious administrators will continue to create the false image of Trump’s leadership abilities. The media will step up to enhance the illusion. When benefits are provided to small businesses and those who lost their jobs, without a strong Democratic voice to assert the contrary, they will appear to be Republican boons.
Senator Sanders has assumed leadership of a political revolution that has not yet inspired the voters to rise and join. That is the risk all visionaries take. However, he has planted seeds that will become fruitful as long as their potential benefits are favorably contemplated over time.