Bernie Sanders: Candidate or President?

Then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Massachusetts in February 2016 ( Image )

Then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Massachusetts in February 2016 (Image)


The 2020 Democratic slate of candidates is loaded. There are already fourteen Democrats who have announced that they are running for president, and sixteen more are likely or presumed to run. But out of all of these candidates — some with big names, some with big policy platforms, and some with both — Bernie Sanders is almost certainly the front-runner.

Only eight hours after announcing his candidacy, Sanders had already raised $3.3 million toward his campaign — far more than the $1.5 million Kamala Harris raised in the 24 hours after her announcement. Contrary to the hopes of many establishment Democrats, Sanders is likely to retain the large base he galvanized during the 2016 election, despite the fact that then, he was running against one candidate, and now, he is running against thirteen of them.

Sanders’ policies and hopes for the country are consistent and clear-minded. From the beginning of his political career, he has championed economic equality, and his passionate struggle to that end has not wavered even once throughout his time in the Senate. Voters overwhelmingly care about economic issues over mostly every other type of issue (remember “It’s the economy, stupid”?) and Sanders has been saying what tired and frustrated workers want to hear for decades.

But for the office of the presidency, it’s not the economy, stupid. Although Bernie Sanders has an excellent track record on fighting to end the enormous wealth disparity in this country and lifting up the underprivileged, economic issues are not the only ones facing the country.

Presidents must consider foreign policy and a multitude of social issues while maintaining good relations with other politicians, none of which are particularly inspiring to Sanders. The Senator from Vermont follows the progressive line on these issues — he believes climate change is a real threat to the world, he is pro-choice, and he supports same-sex marriage — but above all, he is concerned with economic inequality.

Sanders’s 2016 campaign had a strong emphasis on racial justice, but he added this comprehensive policy platform only after he received widespread backlash for ignoring the Black Lives Matter movement. Sure, this showed an admirable willingness to grow and change, and his natural tendency to absorb discussions of all other inequality under the banner of class inequality is certainly a strong show of conviction toward the issue in which he so passionately believes. But to be a good president, not just a good candidate, Sanders needs to focus equally on each salient issue — even if he doesn’t care about all of them.

OpinionAditi KharodComment