Coronavirus debate showed why Trump would crush Sanders in an election

Date:  Comments: 0 - Permalink

The Biden-Sanders coronavirus debate was useless. Time for Bernie to exit stage left.

Tom Nichols
Opinion columnist
Published 12:26 PM EDT Mar 16, 2020

In America, no one owes a vote to any person or party. You can skip the election or write in the name of your cat, if that’s how you want to express yourself. But after the final debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, it’s time for every single voter who wants to put an end to the Trump administration to suit up and vote for the former vice president.

The debate, such as it was, should never have happened. The world is officially in the grip of a pandemic, the stock markets are careening wildly, and American citizens are panic-buying toilet paper. The current president of the United States has turned into a gibbering mess, with some of the best medical minds in America trying to work around errors and lies that come out of the White House faster than they can correct them. With a nominee clearly in sight, the debate was a needless political risk.

Indeed, even if the Democratic nomination contest were still competitive, a good case still could have been made for canceling a debate between two men who have already debated each other 10 times. But it is an article of faith among many Sanders supporters that the Democratic establishment was in the tank against Sanders and that Biden is the candidate of big donors — even though Biden walloped Sanders on Super Tuesday with almost no money or field organization.

And so the Democratic Party had to go on with another tired wrestling match between a tiny-state politician who has repeatedly refused to register as a Democrat and a former Democratic senator and vice president who is now the inevitable nominee of the party. The fact that Sanders refused to bow out gracefully once it was clear that Biden would win the nomination — as all the other major contenders wisely did — is testimony to the egotism and political solipsism of Sanders and his bitter-ender supporters.

The show went on. And now it’s over. Sanders has had his say, in a debate that showed why he would have been crushed in the general election. Biden, by contrast, had his best debate despite his usual “here’s the deal” throat-clearing and a few vapid aphorisms of his own — and despite a scurrilous campaign by both the “Bernie Bros” and Trump’s minions to impugn his mental health.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders at the Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington on March 15, 2020.
Evan Vucci, AP

Sanders, for his part, showed again that he is a grating and rigid ideologue, shortcomings that were amplified by the lack of an audience and the one-on-one format. He continued to push ideas that the American public does not want, like Medicare for All. (Just ask Elizabeth Warren about that one.) He was visibly angry — or, more angry than usual — at perfectly reasonable questions, including about his praise for Fidel Castro, which he answered with a baffling double-down in which he praised China.

Whether Sanders was ever electable is a moot point now. But this last debate revealed something more important about Sanders that should matter to every voter determined to defeat Trump. The senator from Vermont, no matter his assurances, seems to have every intention of damaging the Democratic nominee in the general election. And that should lead every voter, Democrat or independent, who is looking to defeat Trump to think twice about a general-election protest vote for Sanders or anyone else.

Harry Reid: Joe Biden is the Democrat best equipped to oust Trump and stabilize America

Once the scale of his primary defeat was clear two weeks before the debate, Sanders coyly suggested he just wanted to engage Biden on important issues as a public service to primary voters and to make sure his message was heard. But it was clear Sunday night that he was less interested in nudging Biden to the left than he was (in the words of former Hillary Clinton adviser Philippe Reines) in making “one more kamikaze run at the USS Biden.”

On entitlements, Sanders wasn’t trying to move Biden to the left; instead, he implied that Biden is merely a liar. On climate, Sanders wasn’t trying to get Biden to be more specific about his plans; instead, he tried to get Biden to adopt the electoral-map suicide pledge of banning all fracking. And on abortion, Sanders wasn’t trying to get Biden to commit to defending the standard Democratic pro-choice position; instead, he wanted Biden to outbid him for NARAL’s support.

Sanders’ attempts to paint Biden as less than friendly to women’s issues blew up in his face when Biden made the only real news in the debate by pledging to pick a female running mate. Sanders is already facing a gender gap with Democratic women; he had no viable path to the nomination before the debate, and likely has less of one now.

Never-Trump ex-Republican: Why I will vote for almost any 2020 Democratic nominee

If Sanders were as devoted to beating Trump as he claims, he would end his campaign and keep his promise to work to elect Biden. His issues have been heard and he has taken on the presumptive Democratic nominee face to face. By staying in, he not only cements the notion that he should challenge Biden at the convention, he deprives the largest part of the anti-Trump coalition of its clear preference — the latest national poll has Biden leading Sanders by nearly 30 points among Democrats — during a national crisis.

Whatever their flaws, both men showed that they would be better presidents than Trump. (During the first section on responding to the COVID-19, especially, both gave creditable and presidential answers.) That is the lowest of low bars to clear, but if Sanders had been the nominee, I would have cast my vote for him, albeit with both trepidation and resignation.

I no longer face that choice. Time’s up, both for Bernie Sanders and for everyone else who wants to end our national nightmare. A vote for Joe Biden is a vote to remove Donald Trump. Anything else after today is a rationalization.

Tom Nichols is a professor at the Naval War College, a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors and author of “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters.” The views expressed here are solely his own. Follow him on Twitter: @RadioFreeTom

This content was originally published here.

About admin

Highlighted News:

Sorry, no posts matched the criteria.
Sorry, no posts matched the criteria.
Sorry, no posts matched the criteria.

No Comments

Be the first to start a conversation