When Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign last Wednesday after smartly concluding he had no mathematical path to the Democratic nomination for president, I suspected some of his followers would immediately understand the need to support Joe Biden and fall in line (some have), while other followers would be obstinate and refuse to budge (some have). Indeed roughly 15% of his supporters say they will vote this November, but for Donald Trump.
Any action other than a vote for Biden is insane.
The election is in seven months and, while that is plenty of time for those followers to change their minds - just as it's plenty of time for Sanders to publicly endorse Biden and for Biden to speak to the concerns of Sanders supporters - it's also plenty of time for Never Biden folks to become more hardened in place. Especially if the two men don't meet their obligations to each other.
Throughout this campaign I have refused to believe Biden was the best choice for the Democratic nomination. Unlike many voters, I did not even believe he was the best nominee to take on Trump. He is woefully out of step with the times in which we live, and his chief priority is the donor class rather than ordinary Americans. But him being the nominee is a simple matter of fact now. Just as another matter of fact is the next president will be either Biden or Trump.
Which brings me to another matter of fact: the voters chose the nominee this time. There was no conspiracy, no dirty politics. Yes, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropped out at just the right time to clear the moderate lane for Biden, but that's just regular politics. Sanders and his supporters had four years to build on the momentum of his 2016 campaign but didn't. In fact, his support among younger voters dropped compared to his numbers last time. If he didn't gain traction these last four years (outside of social media), it was because he didn't use his time wisely enough. Compare that to, say, Trump for example. Though he's a fake president, he's kept a presidential itinerary; certainly he's been going through the motions of dealing with domestic policies and traveling to other countries as our representative. Yet despite this, he has wisely made time to consistently hold rallies and keep his base energized his entire term. Why didn't Sanders, only a U.S. senator with more availability I would assume, do the same?
Such negligence speaks to a lack of objectivity and practicality. As an outsider bucking the system, like Trump, Sanders had the job of moving the needle. Unlike Trump, however, he didn't have the advantage of hitching his wagon to an anti-establishment movement that preceded him. Trump was palatable to 2016 Republicans because the 2010 Tea Party happened first (it's hard to imagine 2008 Republicans, who nominated John McCain for president, being Trump-ready without that transition). This also demonstrates how Sanders is not himself a movement, but rather more of a folk hero in search of a movement to lead.
Among other things, a true movement will require the objectivity and practicality missing from the Sanders campaign. It will require more than one person certainly (as one person can *start* a movement but cannot *be* a movement), but it will also require maturity and a willingness to accept reality for what it is and what it is not. All these things are always missing from the left, and it's why we can never gain any serious traction.
If we want to gain traction - if we want to form a true movement, such as a liberal tea party for example (cough, cough) - these handicaps must go. We can start by changing our approach to reality and accepting the results of our avoidance. It's too late to change the outcome of the 2020 primary, but it's not too late to keep Trump from a second term. Biden isn't ideal, but he's closer to ideal on the left-right spectrum than Trump is. No Democratic voter can deny this. That makes him a better choice, else we risk essentially forfeiting a claim to the spectrum at all in 2020.
If we want to see our values realized in public policy before we're old or dead; if we want results within reach should we happen to build a movement over the next four years and avoid another establishment nominee; if we want to avoid a world in which Trump has replaced Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court by 2024, making it a 7-2 conservative majority and leaving John Fucking Roberts the next most liberal justice after Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor; we must not be stupid.
Accept the best we can get for now. That's Joe Biden.