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We still have more than three months to go before the Democratic National Convention, yet the remaining primary elections have been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The question is, is it time for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to step out of the race to allow the country to heal? By staying in the race, is he not allowing the focus to be on solving the coronavirus puzzle and saving lives?
Democrats remember what happened in 2016. He stayed in the fight until just before the convention, and his supporters never fully embraced the nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Without that support, while she won the popular vote, she lost the electorate. But can we afford to go through that again with the country fighting for the lives of the people residing in it?
Many Democrats remember just before the convention when Sanders addressed his supporters and told them it was time to support Clinton. They booed, gave her a thumbs-down, and it allowed Donald Trump to get in there and win the election in November.
While Sanders won the first few races in the 2020 primary, former Vice President Joe Biden came from way behind and won South Carolina, then won Super Tuesday and the Tuesday following. He was on a roll, an unstoppable roll. His nomination seemed inevitable, and many Democrats were lining up behind him. Polls were handing a Biden/Trump race to the former veep.
But the story running behind the presidential election throughout the primary season was the novel coronavirus. In January there were only a couple of patients in the United States. it steadily grew in February, while Trump called it a hoax. All that time that could have been spent on shoring up supplies and health-care personnel was lost with the president telling everyone it was nothing more than the flu.
The World Health Organization deemed coronavirus COVID-19 a pandemic as it blew up. Once it started to finally wane in China, it decimated Italy and Spain. The U.S. is just two weeks behind Italy. Last week the U.S. became the country with the most positive cases.
We have hospitals fighting to stay on the right side of this, to have enough equipment and personnel to fight this disease. Many governors have taken the unprecedented move to force people to stay at home to not pass this disease around. People are working from home, and students are studying from home. Bars and restaurants and other non-essential businesses are closed.
It's truly a scary time to be alive. But along with that battle for survival, Sanders is still battling Biden. He has so far refused to leave the race. 15 percent of his supporters have said they will vote for Trump to be reelected rather than vote for Biden, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll.
This means that his supporters are so upset that their choice as president will most likely not win the nomination, that they will hand the election to the man who placed his political livelihood ahead of the survival of voters. It was more important for him to present himself in a good light and to make it appear he had everything under control so that he could keep his own voters, that he stood by and allowed this pandemic to get completely out of control.
There have been over 1,000 alone in New York state who have died in less than a month's time. They are running out of hospital beds, protective masks, and ventilators to keep patients alive. By downplaying the situation for weeks, Trump allowed that to happen.
"I just think it's a terrible decision for him to make because he looks very selfish," said former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), a Biden backer. If Sanders is being genuine that he intends to go all out to defeat Trump, "then get out," she said.
"Everyone should stop pretending that Bernie is doing anything other than helping Bernie," said Philippe Reines, a longtime adviser to Clinton.
But Biden has recently said he wants to debate Biden in April. There are 1,000 people dead in New York alone, but he wants to debate Biden. His allies believe his Medicare-for-All message is more important than ever because of the health crisis the country is in.
But if Trump wins reelection because the Democratic party can't come together as they couldn't in 2016, the country hands itself four more years of Trump. Four more years of a man who puts his own personal needs above the country. And if that's the case, the Medicare-for-All message will not matter. The only way it can be important is for Sanders to win the nomination, and at this point, it's a longshot.
Trump has held nightly press briefings the past few weeks to address COVID-19 needs across the country. He bragged about the ratings of his briefings, talking about them being better than a "Bachelor" finale and Monday Night Football. This was more important to him that then deaths and suffering from COVID-19.
This is the person who will be in charge for another four years if the Democrats can't come together and unite behind one candidate to put someone else in office to allow the country to start healing, first from COVID-19 and then from everything else it's been inflicted with throughout Trump's time in office.
The question remains: is it time for Sanders to drop out of the race, to support Biden in a united front to win in November, to help the country start to heal?
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