As someone who is politically independent, I support a variety of candidates, sometimes opposing ones if I like their positions and how their message influences public discourse. There are Republicans and Democratic Party politicians helping make their parties better, doing good work, promoting civility, and helping bring attention and solutions to important issues.
Over the past year I’ve had a short list of presidential candidates I’ve been supporting. Pete Buttigieg was on that list. I began supporting Pete about a year ago through recurring monthly donations and periodically promoting his message on social media. I chose to support Pete for his personality and his requirement that all staff and volunteers exemplify “Kindness” in all they do. Another reason I chose Pete is because every time I asked my Republican friends which candidate they liked best, 100% of the time the answer was Mayor Pete. I like to support candidates that have broad appeal across party lines, and who don’t upset people in the other party.
Joe Biden seems like a nice person, but for some reason he hasn’t resonated with me over the past 40 years. Perhaps this is because of his voting record and his stand on various issues.
Shock and Awe
On 2 Mar 2020, 24 hours before Super Tuesday, Pete Buttigieg halted his own campaign and endorsed Joe Biden. He not only endorsed Biden but a few hours later was on the campaign trail with Biden giving speeches encouraging people to vote for Joe. Amy Klobuchar, another candidate I supported for similar reasons, also dropped out 24 hours before Super Tuesday and began actively campaigning for Biden in Minnesota. Beto O’Rourke held a massive event with Biden in Texas. The timing seemed like a pre-planned coordinated effort, and doing this just before Super Tuesday gave Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth warren no time to organize an equivalent Super Tuesday strategy for progressives.
The day after Super Tuesday, billionaire Michael Bloomberg ended his campaign and endorsed Biden. It was as if to say, “My work here is done” after seeing Bernie Sanders pushed out as a front runner. I was supportive of Bloomberg because he was making some good points overlooked by the other candidates. I also felt he created an important billionaire ‘firewall’ that the other candidates would need to prove themselves able to overcome, and prove they could win against the billionaire in the White House.
The following day, Elizabeth Warren ended her campaign and seemed to express some resentment toward Sanders, unwilling to endorse him. Had Warren dropped out the day before Super Tuesday, even if she didn’t endorse Bernie, it would have been a courtesy to progressives who might have wanted Bernie to do better on Super Tuesday with the support of an undivided progressive base.
The sudden and unexpected surge of support from Pete, Amy, Bloomberg, and O’Rourke along with the non-endorsement from Warren was like a 3-day non-stop political equivalent of shock and awe. A daily punch to the collective gut of progressives in general and Bernie supporters in particular.
Supporting Joe Biden
During their campaigns, all of these candidates made the promise to their supporters that they would support whoever the eventual Democratic Party nominee would be. This was partly why I supported them. I believed that Pete, Amy, Mike, and Liz would support the eventual outcome of the primaries.
Instead, these candidates along with other power brokers and influencers, acting like virtual super delegates, disrupted the normal democratic process in placing their collective thumbs on the scales to ensure a significant win for Biden on Super Tuesday.
So, all my efforts to support Pete, Amy, Mike, and Liz are now, without my consent, being redirected to support Biden, someone who I’d chosen not to support. In this way I feel I’ve unwittingly been working toward building a base of support for Joe Biden over the past year.
Pete, Amy, Mike, and Liz offered something very different than Joe Biden. To me, Biden is not an equivalent substitute for any of them, but I’m studying Biden now to discover common ground and I’m also finding endearing videos (like this one) to help me connect with him.
I’m trying to reach a point where I can respect and trust the judgement of those who are rushing to put their support behind Joe Biden.
We won’t ever know how Biden without substantial and unusual support would have done compared to Sanders. I was relying on the Super Tuesday outcome to determine how I should direct my energies and support. I’m now suddenly finding myself without the valuable insights that Super Tuesday would normally provide.
I’ve been a supporter of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders long before they launched their 2020 campaigns. The progressive wing of the Democratic Party addresses some very crucial issues for our country and the world, including multiple intersecting extinction level events that will very likely be overlooked or unaddressed by moderate Democrats and Republicans. Is there a super majority of voters willing to support a progressive agenda in an election? There seems to be, but we don’t know. As a fail safe, I like to support sensible competent moderates as well as progressives. For the same reason, in down ticket Republican races, particularly those where no Democrat can win, I support the candidate I feel will make the Republican Party better and who will best serve their community.
At this point you’re probably wondering… “How can this guy support practically every presidential candidate? They have competing agendas. They are very different.” The answer is found in the first paragraph of this writing. In addition, because nobody knows at the outset who will become the nominee, helping them all get their message out boosts their ongoing impact on voters who are undecided or of the other party.
If we pick a candidate early on, and then loudly talk trash about all the other candidates as we rudely argue with their supporters, we’ll turn off undecided voters and burn bridges among those who could help the eventual nominee. That’s a lose-lose approach. By supporting every candidate, and being respectful of their supporters, the eventual nominee is guaranteed to build a positive united base of supporters needed to win.
Instead what normally happens is we fight among ourselves for a year or more. The world looks on and gets increasingly disillusioned and disgusted with the candidates. The candidates and their supporters drop out of the race and lose interest over time. Then, a few months before a national election, those who remain involved begrudgingly vote for someone who wasn’t their first choice and perhaps don’t feel good about voting for.
Progressives Have 48 Hours
A presidential election is like an exam with sections that test many skills: public speaking, public organizing, diplomacy, civic knowledge, administrative skill, likability, etc.
Among the more important skills needed to win is the ability to unite people.
If the present-day stewards of the progressive movement can’t stop their infighting they won’t win and don’t deserve to win.
Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, along with their supporters, have about 48 hours to work out their differences, and find common ground. If they can’t reconcile by March 10, the chances of Bernie Sanders being the Democratic Party nominee becomes much more unlikely, and the “progressive uprising of 2020” will fizzle out and become just a distant memory and only a footnote in history textbooks.