Who will progressive voters rally behind?
Social Media Editor
On April 13, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden one week after suspending his own campaign for president.
Sanders’ backing came after he previously said he would support the eventual Democratic nominee for president in the general election this November.
“We’ve got to make [President Donald] Trump a one-term president, and we need you in the White House,” Sanders told Biden on a livestream. “So I will do all that I can to see that that happens.”
With Sanders, a previous frontrunner, having arguably the most passionate fan base and the strongest support among young voters, it is important for Biden that he appeases that demographic.
Biden took his first steps to incorporate the progressive agenda in his announcement on April 9. He plans to expand Medicare eligibility to age 60 and forgive student loans for those making up to $125,000 per year. Despite Sanders urging his supporters to vote for Biden in this November’s general election, many of them have reservations regarding the former vice president.
When Siwa Versnel, the secretary for Democratic Socialists of America at the university, found out about Sanders in 2016, she did not imagine politics becoming a huge part of her life over the next few years.
“Bernie’s campaign just made more sense to me than [Hillary Clinton’s] did,” Versnel, a senior political science major, said. “I wanted universal healthcare and a living wage to be things that we had before that even applied to my life.”
Versnel voted for Clinton in 2016’s general election, whom Sanders campaigned for. She worries about what four more years of Trump would mean for immigration and the Supreme Court if Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, passes away in the near future. Since her home state of Delaware will likely go to Biden no matter what, she said she will probably vote Green Party in the fall.
“I think it’s likely that he would appoint a relatively conservative judge in the case of Ruth Bader Ginsberg,” Versnel said. “I feel like he would also appoint relatively conservative industry-focused people to his cabinet.”
Versnel added that the sexual assault accusation from Tara Reade, a former Senate aide to Biden, as well as his history of inappropriate conduct around women, influence her decision. However, she understands why progressive voters in swing states may not see another option.
Mark Jackson, the StUDent Government Association’s chief of staff, first “felt the Bern” in 2015 after watching YouTube videos at a classmate’s recommendation. He said he does not look forward to going into the booth this November but plans on voting for Biden.
“His past is really something I can’t reconcile with, but I’ll probably still vote for him just because of things like the Supreme Court and the environment,” Jackson, a junior political science and Africana studies double major, said.
Biden’s past that Jackson referred to involves authoring and supporting legislation such as the Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988, as well as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which opened the door to the issue of modern mass incarceration by imposing stronger prison sentences for drug offenders and increasing funding for prisons.
Jackson said he liked that Biden wants to earn the support of Sanders rather than take it for granted.
“He could adopt more progressive policies, maybe include progressives in his cabinet, but other than that, I don’t know what he could do to make people look past his troubled history,” Jackson said.
Dalton Schirling, a sophomore English education and Africana studies double major, said that he was incredibly disappointed when Sanders suspended his campaign.
“I put so much stock in the anti-establishment type platform that he ran on,” Schirling said. “It just sucked to know that America squandered their one chance to legitimately fix things.”
Schirling said that once Sanders endorsed Biden, he put his frustration aside because getting Trump out of office was more important. However, he still finds it patronizing when told to “vote blue no matter who.”
“How are you just gonna tell people to sacrifice their own beliefs like that?” Schirling said. “But the Republican party, at least in the Trump administration, represents such formidable evil and wickedness that defeating it is necessary regardless of who beats him.”