The Corner

Politics & Policy

Bernie Sanders, the Man Who Couldn’t Change in the Face of Pandemic

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a rally in St Louis, Mo., March 9, 2020. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Yesterday morning, the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign sent an e-mail to supporters declaring that after the vote on a coronavirus response, “Bernie and Jane are going to get on a plane back to Vermont. Once there, they’ll begin holding conversations with supporters to get input and assess the path forward for our campaign. We will keep you updated as those conversations progress.”

Axios reported that Sanders was suspending his campaign, then retracted that report. The Sanders campaign was merely suspending Facebook ads. Yesterday the Vermont senator got a little snippy with reporters asking if his campaign would continue: “I’m dealing with a f—ing global crisis. And you’re asking me these questions. Right now, I’m trying to do my best to make sure that we don’t have an economic meltdown and that people don’t die.”

As of this writing, it appears Sanders is not inclined to drop out of the presidential race. Some of his supporters want him to stay in.

But the senator’s comment to the reporters was unintentionally revealing. With a contagious virus spreading across the country and the economy in free fall amid unparalleled uncertainty, the Democratic presidential primary just doesn’t feel all that important right now. And if Bernie Sanders can’t make his presidential campaign a priority right now . . . how many Americans can? Because of various states’ postponing their presidential primaries, no one is counting any ballots until Alaska, Hawaii, and Wyoming do on April 4. If the Democratic primary feels forgotten and irrelevant today, how will things feel after another two weeks of pandemic coverage?

As noted yesterday, getting voters together at polling places undermines the effort at “social distancing” that the CDC recommends. If Sanders (and Tulsi Gabbard (UPDATE, see below)) quit the race, postponing all remaining presidential primaries until June or so would be a no-brainer.

Each passing day, Bernie Sanders reveals more about himself and what he truly values. The man who insisted we had to put the interests of society as a whole over our own personal desires and ambitions never really meant to include himself. He wanted everyone in America to sacrifice in the name of fighting wealth disparity, fighting climate change, fighting social injustice, and so on. But when push came to shove, he wouldn’t even sacrifice his no-hope campaign in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

UPDATE: At 10:45 this morning, Tulsi Gabbard withdrew from the presidential race and endorsed Joe Biden.

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