By Sydney Black
What began as an overcrowded race towards delegates has recently been reduced to a field of just three candidates and two main contenders. With those left pining for endorsements, and outsiders speculating potential vice presidential choices, the Democratic Primary is as heated as ever. The way the primary has evolved is a reflection of the way the Democratic Party at large has evolved: greatly but also divisively.
Thus far, the contrast in ideologies has allowed for immense discourse including both progressive and more moderate policies. Audrey Goldberg, a freshman, believes that, “All the candidates bring something to the table and it is interesting to learn what they have to offer.” Despite disagreeing with the principles of certain candidates, many see value in civilized discourse. An anonymous student notes, “Would I totally like to do some friendly debate with them on both of our beliefs? Yes. But, I respect both sides even if I personally think one is wrong.” However, this debate does come with issues. Oftentimes, televised debates become more about verbally attacking candidates, rather than illuminating what they actually stand for.
This theme is particularly clear with the outbreak of COVID-19. The systemic failure of America’s healthcare system has been further highlighted. Biden and Sanders both recognized the pandemic as a national crisis, but quickly turned the tables against each other in an effort to transition the discourse towards the heated tirades that dominate the typical debate. Biden and Sanders were found tearing apart each other’s voting records. It seems they almost lost sight of a rare opportunity for America’s ears. Many American’s don’t obsess about the bill that one of them voted against 20 years ago, but what Biden or Sanders would have done to protect middle-class families’ jobs and healthcare in the midst of the panic inflicted by this modern epidemic.
At the core of the Democratic race is the battle for the title of “frontrunner.” Bernie Sanders began the race by sweeping delegates, but then lost his spot in the lead to Joe Biden on Super Tuesday. Despite Sanders’ inability to bring young voters out in droves as initially promised, Super Tuesday was not a total loss. Bernie Sanders’ position as a pre-existing threat allowed him to distinguish his policies from others in the pool. Sanders’ promise for a political revolution is something of a fiery controversy. Beyond this, it is uncertain that Sanders can accomplish any of his goals. Can a divided America, more specifically Congress, pass bills leaning this far to the left? Yet, one can most definitely admit Bernie Sanders possesses an unwavering ability to unify the progressive base, which is one of the greatest feats of his campaign.
Joe Biden came into Super Tuesday needing to win, and for the most part he accomplished exactly that. As current leader in the delegate count, Biden has taken Sanders’ seat at the top. The endorsements of recent primary dropouts Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar made his case all the more appealing, shifting ground towards the moderate camp. Ross Douthat, an opinion columnist at The New York Times, says that a ballot for Biden is a ballot “for incrementalism that greater ideological ambition might foreclose.” Unfortunately, another truth about the modern political climate has been made clear through this campaign: the impact of the media’s support. Many news channels have pummeled Bernie Sanders’ campaign, while giving other candidates, such as Joe Biden, more air time, heavily broadcasting events such as rallies and endorsements. Though Biden’s rise to the top is impressive, it isn’t without the help of political polarization.
Another factor that has become highlighted throughout this primary season is the lack of diversity. With Elizabeth Warren’s recent drop out, the chances of a female or even a non-white male president are slim to none. Though Tulsi Gabbard is still in the race, her campaign hasn’t taken off beyond American Samoa where Gabbard received both of her two delegates. Gabbard’s campaign highlights a core issue: the problem is not that women aren’t running, but that there is a greater culture of gender-based hostility running deep into Americans’ subconscious. While change cannot happen overnight, the perpetuation of stereotypes, particularly of minorities, is an awful norm for a country founded upon principles of equality. However, Biden promised to choose a female vice president if his campaign goes forward, which will mark only the third time a woman has been on a presidential ballot. But one is compelled to wonder, is this simply a superficial tactic to draw in last-minute voters, or a step towards social equality?
The Democratic nominee will undoubtedly be the deciding factor regarding the direction the General Election goes and the way the near future is shaped. Regardless of the candidate chosen to represent the party, the direction considered by voters and citizens at large should not be right versus left, but how the United States can best move forward.