By Chris White
Activists are coming to grips with the realization that Sen. Bernie Sanders will likely not become president in 2020 after the self-described socialist ended his White House bid on Wednesday.
Many of these environmentalists and youth activists are turning their eyes toward former Vice President Joe Biden, who is struggling to collect votes from the millennial generation. They are also lamenting what they say is Biden’s core campaign message: a return to normalcy.
“We’re not going to sugarcoat it: our hearts are heavy,” Sunrise Movement spokeswoman Aracely Jimenez said in a statement following Sanders’s announcement.
Her group was one of the first to jump on board the infamous Green New Deal, which Sanders championed.
“In Bernie Sanders, we had a presidential candidate whose visionary solutions — Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, paid sick leave — are exactly the policies we need to get out of the crises we’re living through now,” Jimenez added.
Other liberal activists were similarly despondent. Sunrise Movement was one of eight groups to write a letter to Biden chastising the former vice president for not being a transformative figure. They say he represents a wing of the Democratic Party that is stagnant and lacking progressive principles.
“While you are now the presumptive Democratic nominee, it is clear that you were unable to win the votes of the vast majority of voters under 45 years old during the primary,” the groups wrote in the notes. Justice Democrats and NextGen American were among those that signed the letter.
They asked the former vice president to consider taking up much of Sanders’s positions as they believe it is not good enough to return to a world before President Donald Trump. “Messaging around a ‘return to normalcy’ does not and has not earned the support and trust of voters from our generation,” they wrote.
Meanwhile, Biden is trying to bridge the gap. He said in a Medium post Wednesday that the movement Sanders helped create will become an indispensable tool that will promote change in the future. The olive branch represents a departure from what Biden was saying earlier in the primary.
“The only thing, the only thing between the United States and the abyss is the Democratic Party,” Democratic strategist James Carville said on MSNBC in February before the coronavirus pandemic caused Biden and everyone else in the country to isolate themselves to prevent the spread.
“That’s it. If we go the way of the British Labour Party, if we nominate Jeremy Corbyn, it’s going to be the end of days … so I’m scared to death,” said Carville, who has called Sanders a socialist in the past.
Biden, for his part, is running up the numbers among older voters but is failing to capture the imagination of the younger people who flocked to Obama in 2008. His inability to energize the millennial generation and its peers has not gone unnoticed in Sanders’s camp.
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