The federal government’s orders to shutdown public gatherings and non-essential movement in handling the coronavirus health crisis makes a Bernie Sanders come back more difficult.
‘Feel the burn,’ motto was not meant to be directed towards Sanders, but as his campaign makes last ditch efforts to secure delegates, they must do so remotely, and moreover, under fire. After cancelling a rally in Cleveland, the Sanders campaign is using live streaming for a digital rally, as well as, boosting all of their social media postings, in hopes of activating young voters they targeted from the beginning.
Behind frontrunner Joe Biden by 143 delegates, field offices have been closed in nationwide efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19, the novel coronavirus decimating Europe, and particularly Italy. Sanders, who is 78-years-old, suffered a heart attack while on the campaign trail last October. Biden, at 77, has been recorded making a number of blunders, thus, questioning his cognitive health. Both are within the range of the demographic that is most susceptible to dying from Covid-19.
Also calling off political rallies in Ohio, Biden’s campaign responded to the battle state’s restrictions of gatherings of more than 100 persons. Included, Ohio’s governor, Mike DeWine (R) ordered the closing of bars and restaurants.
However, in past primaries, Biden won in states he never campaigned, which proves to be a grave concern for the Sanders team. Since last week’s huge loss in states like Michigan, the Sanders campaign stays in the fight, yet scrambles to gain footing in the final big vote for the Democratic position.
This Tuesday, Illinois, Florida, Ohio and Arizona are scheduled to vote, but Ohio’s governor shuttered polling places. According to Politico, a judge denied Gov. DeWine’s request to postpone in-person voting, but he went along with plans anyway.
Crowdless debates and healthcare in a crisis
Sunday’s debate between top Democratic presidential candidates, unveiled little as they go into the last primary votes. The debate, which took place in an empty Washington DC production studio, showed how the health crisis is impacting elections.
At the outset of the debate, focusing on the looming national emergency stemming from the coronavirus spread, both agreed the Trump Administration foiled in preventing the country’s current predicament.
While Sanders says a universal healthcare system could address the issues occurring in the US, Biden cited Italy’s social-democratic structure as a failure in their response to covid-19 infections. According to Biden, who positions himself as an “across-the-aisle candidate,” the people want “results, not a revolution.” On the other hand, Sanders cited income inequality as a critical issue in the country affecting healthcare.
Later, in a tweet, Sanders responds to Larry Levvit, Executive Vice President for Health Policy, who posted that the average cost of a hospitalization for COVID-19 could top $20,000. Sanders said:
No one should ever be bankrupted because they got sick.
In the midst of this emergency, the U.S. government must be clear that everyone in our country must be able to get all of the health care they need without cost. Period.
In the debate, Biden did commit to selecting a woman as a running mate, while both went tit-for-tat on each other’s voting record and stances on immigration, the economy, student debt and climate change.
People of Color vs the Black vote
Joe Biden’s South Carolina’s campaign upset Bernie Sanders growing strength as a frontrunner. Sanders campaign underestimated the Black vote and white voters who voted for him in 2016, but switched over to Biden in 2020.
As Sanders holds his focus on income inequality, his campaign never recovered from the surprising, March 3, underwhelming performance. Biden won Mississippi, Texas, Virginia and Massachusetts. Before that, Biden snatched South Carolina. The key voters were Black voters loyal to the Obama brand and legacy. While Sanders supporters railed against Black voters for casting their lot with Biden, there were also white working voters who leaned to Sanders in 2016, but switched to the more centrist Biden.
It is no secret that Sanders struggled to gain a significant number of Black voters, but his absence at critical moments magnified an issue that bubbled up his 2016 campaign. For primaries on March 10, Sanders was scheduled to rally in Mississippi. He rerouted his efforts to Michigan at the last minute. “If possible, I will try to get to Mississippi,” he said, but never made it. Nonetheless, Jackson’s mayor, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, an African American who leads a predominantly African American city, announced his support though Sanders.
Another striking absence was Sanders’ no-show at the 55th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. A day that marks a Civil Rights march in Selma, Alabama where protestors were met by white, racist law enforcement on Edmund Pettus Bridge and beaten ferociously, it is a significant moment in history and voting enfranchisement. The original demonstration was co-led by John Lewis, now a tenured Congressman in Georgia. Sanders’ non-appearance was surprising. Since Sanders’ inroads into the Black community has been him repeating that he marched with slain Civil Rights icon, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., him missing the ceremony while Biden attended, showed his uncertainty that he increased African American support. Soon, Sanders found out that he did very little.
Opting to lean more towards terminology such as “people of color,” the Sanders campaign courted more openly, Latino voters and immigrants. With Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) serving as Sanders surrogates, the aim was to strengthen the millennial and a portion of the Generation X voter base. This weeks reports show that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has reduced her appearances on the Sanders campaign trail. This comes after a number of political officials, including former Dem presidential candidates, announced a Biden endorsement.
Another unexpected flaw in the Sanders campaign is that online Bernie fervor, has yet to translate to voting power. This has been a behavioral pattern of millennials since the first Barack Obama presidential campaign in 2008. With the exit of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MI), and her subsequent, non-support of any candidate, Sanders’ win will be more historical than Biden’s campaign rebirth in South Carolina. Nonetheless, the Sanders voting bloc has said that if Sanders does not win then there will be an exodus from the Democratic party.
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