Image Courtesy ( This Amazing Artwork which so moved me to write this article on Bernie is by Jessa McClintick who can be found as jessa_paints on Instagram)
Comrade Sanders recently fell when he announced his withdrawal from the 2020 Primary Race. So, it is a good time to reflect on this fan-favorite character who brought people all over the world to tears two times in the last four years.
Sanders was introduced to us via his campaign launch late 2015 which was aired not on the mainstream media outlets but to the relegated C-span news channel. And that too not the more prestigious C-Span 1 or C-Span 2 but the lowly C-Span 3. This was a time late into Obama’s career as President with a spotty democratic field which was predicted to offer no difficulty to the presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton. Many fan-theories exist on how exactly Bernie managed to get his campaign to achieve national and even international support, but the only thing we have received official confirmation on is the fact that post-2008 America had several of pent up angst against the inadequate change brought on by the Obama regime. Bernie’s honest—tells it like it is authenticity drew young voters towards him. He had a radical political platform and he possibly created or took advantage of the first generation of Millennial Socialists.
By the time of the first primary in 2016, all media attention was in the much more interesting Republican field, which had a Bush, a very punchable Ted Cruz, diversity tokens, and our beloved leader Donald Trump. In the democratic camp we had Martin O’Malley, and maybe three other people I don’t remember anymore. It was initially Hillary and it was later Hillary but, in the middle, we had a wonderful time with Sanders when he won over our below voting age and wrong country of citizenship hearts.
Iowa and New Hampshire were the first states whose results let us flirt with the idea of a Bernie versus Trump debate, which was so demanded that comedy central made one themselves. As the primary season went on it became clear the media did not like Sanders and neither did the old people and neither did anyone who was not white. Super Tuesday happened and so did a bunch of primaries that ended up giving Hillary Clinton a huge lead. This did not mean it was a constant loss for Bernie as he managed to pull off a string of wins now and then to disrupt Hillary. Sadly, these wins came from small states and caucuses and the math was clear—Hillary was going to win. It appeared the DNC knew this beforehand as they rigged it to happen months in advance. All this did not stop the Bernie Bros from clogging our internet feeds. As far as fandoms go the Bernie Bros would rank in the top ten most obnoxious ones, but the charm of comrade Sanders was that his thick Brooklyn Accent made us forget about the Bernie Bros every time he opened his mouth. He won us over by making inequality an issue again, by refocusing public anger against the wall street giants who had so recently broken world finance and gotten away with it too. He spoke about universal health care, a dream which the pundits vowed would never be realized.
Clinton was in many ways the antithesis of sanders. To his authentic Brooklyn accent, she had an arsenal of regional ones to suit each state she campaigned in. To his revolutionary politics she wanted to preserve the status quo. To his astonishing policy consistency she flip-flopped every five weeks. She was the super pac love child with a history of secret meetings to his millions of small-donor fundraising. The DNC tried to unite the party under the agenda of defeating Trump but Sanders had shown the system was already broken. His endorsement of her felt empty and forced. As the Election drew close her victory seemed a given, so much so the media had only once cause of worry: If Trump were to lose would he accept the election results and the institution of the Electoral College?
Then November the 9th happened, a nightmare for everyone. Trump wasn’t supposed to win. But it happened. To great irony no one seemed to point out the media called the election result to question. Suddenly the electoral college was always an unjust institution and once again the popular vote needed supremacy in democracy.
Four years of bad trump policies and worse Trump jokes followed. Trump was already such a gross parody of US politics that every skit felt hollow, the caricatures were alternatives and the wigs were always better. The years flew by actually, and everyone agrees that Obama was too soft on China now. In 2018 the Democrats manage to capture House majority pumping renewed optimism into the prospects of defeating Trump.
Comrade Sanders returned. This was his moment, there was no Clinton. But the field this time was also more competitive, there was Warren who took a lot of Bernie’s ideas and worked them out into policy proposals, there was Pete Buttigieg who was gay which was cool but his ideas were boring, we had a few other people but they were not white so we’ve forgotten about them. Then there came Joe Biden—former Vice President in the Obama Administration. Biden was a no show in 2016 but for 2020 he came. His message was simple: “I can Defeat Trump because I’m moderate, also Obamer”. The issue was that other than Warren and Sanders, everyone ran on the moderate coalition beats Trump mantra.
As the first two primaries came, we saw the coalition beat each other and Biden could not even get third place. Then he came, the man with enough money to bail out an entire auto industry—Mike Bloomberg. He had a lot of money and he was going to spend a lot of money. The media called him the numbers guy, he had done the math, the spending would get him the votes. And so we watched him spend till Super Tuesday.
Sanders on the other hand was becoming the frontrunner, by the time New Hampshire was over the establishment and media were running wild, there was no clear alternative and if left unchecked Sanders would take the nomination. Nevada came and Sanders almost had it all. The race was over, Biden was over. He was going to go into Super Tuesday and pick up each state. The pundits were losing it, they blamed the DNC for not stopping him. For the first time he was interviewed as the presumptive Democratic nominee. He almost got cocky.
Biden’s campaign was a joke. All this while through each loss they kept saying South Carolina was going to be their wall. That line seemed like a joke when polls predicted a Sanders win possibility. Then the results came in, it was a fairlead Biden had and he had won South Carolina. Big deal right?
Pete Buttigieg dropped out and endorsed Biden, Amy Klobuchar dropped out and endorsed Biden, and suddenly every moderate save Mike Bloomberg had dropped out and endorsed Biden. It was like Biden became a fused character or a moderate megazord. Something was wrong.
Super Tuesday happened. Sanders still got California. But there was no insurmountable lead. Biden won 10 out of the 14 states. Bernie failed to diversify his coalition. A now apparent side plot: Mike Bloomberg had spent 500 Million dollars on advertising and had ended up winning the state of American Samoa.
Super Tuesday 2 happened soon after and at this point it became mathematically very unlikely for Bernie to win the nomination.
Biden’s comeback was truly remarkable.
But did Bernie lose two elections for nothing?
Back in 2016 Bernie’s calls for universal single-payer healthcare, college debt waivers, wall street reform and Federal Minimum wage hikes to $16 were unthinkable. But in 2020 these were the main items on the entire democratic agenda. The party’s discourse was based on the terms Bernie defined in 2016. The party had decidedly shifted to the left, and socialist was a word in the American Political Dictionary. A new faction was born into the democratic party. Even now in 2020 Biden is said to be negotiating with the Sanders team on embracing many of his policies as an olive branch.
Many of Bernie’s politics are yet to be adopted. He was the only anti-imperialist presidential candidate, he criticized Israel and he was gonna break up the big banks. Politicians like Alexandra Ocasio Cortez were born out of his 2016 campaign, and many more have and will be inspired.
In a way Bernie having not won allows us to have a fantasy in our heads, the idea of an ideal Bernie presidency that never was and will be. An ideal to carry over in our heads forever that will inspire us to what a leader, a president and a politician can be. Farewell Comrade Sanders.
Those SNL skits and Larry David
Stephen “Reactionary” Colbert
Some podcast I found on Spotify
Anderson Cooper the one time I watched him