Bernie Sanders is now the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. With his success in the primaries, his significant lead in the polls and his historic donor support, Sanders is perhaps the best situated of the remaining Democratic candidates to beat Donald Trump.
The Democratic establishment, however, is not fond of Bernie. Party elites have made their hesitations about Sanders public. Hillary Clinton, for example, said that “nobody likes him.” Traditionally left-leaning news sources have also shown bias against Sanders. In fact, the establishment’s disdain for Bernie runs so deep that some suggest the party is rigged against him.
Bernie sweeping the nation signals changing times for Democrats, so it makes sense that the prospect of him winning scares elites. Still, Democrats need to accept that Sanders is very likely to win the nomination, so they must unite behind him. If not, the Democrats risk losing the support they need to beat a Republican Party that is largely united behind Trump.
Party unity will be crucial this fall. In early February, 93% of Republicans approved of Trump’s performance as president. To beat him, Democrats are going to have to muster similar support for the candidate they choose in June. Whether the nominee is their first choice, Democrats will at least have to act together to cast votes against Trump in November.
As we have seen, the nominee will probably be Bernie Sanders, and that is a good thing. Whether or not you agree with Bernie’s ideology, he is electable. He is not plagued by scandals or a problematic past. He has a strong record of working for the good of the American public. Voters have noticed his positive record. In fact, some polls indicate that Bernie is the only candidate who can beat Trump.
Furthermore, failing to nominate Bernie could serve to split the Democratic vote, especially in the case of rigging or a contested convention. Even Trump is aware — and scared — of the intense fervor of Bernie’s supporters. In effect, if Bernie is not the nominee, many of his supporters might not shift their support to whoever is. Indeed, an Emerson poll that found only 53% of Bernie supporters would definitely support the nominee if it were not Sanders. In contrast, nearly 90% of Biden, Warren, and Buttigieg supporters say they would support any nominee.
It is also important to consider the similarities between Trump and Bernie. While very ideologically different, both appeal for such elements as their unique approaches to politics and their rejection of the establishment. Because of that, there is a portion of the electorate that would only vote for Bernie or Trump. In 2016, 12% of those who supported Bernie in the primary voted for Trump in the general election. Conversely, having Bernie as a nominee could gnaw away at Trump’s base.
So, Democrats need to unite around Bernie. Regardless of his ideology, he is electable, respectable and tough. Unification is necessary to defeat what Bernie correctly calls “the most dangerous president in American history.”
Sam Smith is a junior studying geography at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Sam know by tweeting him @sambobsmith_.