Don’t dismiss Bernie—yet

Keep an open mind about the Vermont senator and the other qualified presidential hopefuls

Bernie Sanders’ announcement Tuesday (Feb. 19) that he’s entering the 2020 presidential race may have struck terror in the hearts of many Democrats. After all, a lot of the independent Vermont senator’s loyalists­—Bernie-or-busters—helped put us where we are today. You know, deep into the heart of darkness.

In just two years, we’ve watched the current administration dismantle the nation’s progress on everything from health care and environmentalism to the financial protections set in place after Wall Street and investment banks triggered the largest recession since the Great Depression. Meantime, Trump and the GOP brokered a restructured tax system that benefits the ultra wealthy and major corporations at the expense of not only everyday Americans but also the country’s financial underpinnings. The national deficit has grown by more than $2 trillion during Trump’s term despite a strong economy and POTUS’ campaign promise that he’d reduce and then eliminate it altogether.

Of course, that’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a president whose actions have given rise to a modern white supremacy movement and for whom an increasing mountain of evidence linked to his associates points to him being compromised by, and working in the interest of, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other dangerous despots, including Saudi Arabia’s crown prince.

Sanders’ supporters often are quick to point the finger at the Democratic Party and the so-called establishment for the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, but there was a responsible choice to make on Nov. 8, 2016, and many progressives have yet to atone for making a reckless one.

All that said, we don’t think Sanders’ 2020 bid is necessarily a bad omen. For one thing, he will keep the Democrats seeking their party’s nomination focused on his progressive agenda, one we believe benefits the majority of Americans. Sanders very likely will redouble the debate around important issues: economic inequality, health care, climate change, a federal minimum wage, Wall Street reform, etc.

Our advice: Go into the campaign cycle with an open mind. The path ahead is long, and there are several smart, well-qualified and passionate people already in the mix. Don’t dismiss Sanders, but don’t dismiss his challengers, either. And remember: The nation can’t afford another four years under Trump.