by Elizabeth McGinn ’22
In 2016, Bernie Sanders threw his hat into the ring to run for president. Although he fell to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primary, he announced his intention to run again in the 2020 race against incumbent President Trump. While Sanders promotes a progressive platform, he should refrain from running in 2020.
The Trump Administration has seen its fair share of controversy, from the government shutdown to allegations of collusion with Russia during the 2016 election. The 2020 race is critical for the country; it is the opportunity to continue the Trump Administration or elect a new, democratic president.
A slew of democratic politicians have already stated their intention to run, including Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and most recently, Beto O’Rourke. Sanders, despite his failed 2016 run, has joined them.
During the 2016 election, Sanders appealed widely to the millennial generation with the slogan “Feel the Bern.” His progressive politics, including free college education and the continuation of universal healthcare, touched the hearts of many young adults who had just reached the age to participate in politics.
Despite falling to a more traditional establishment candidate in 2016, Sanders’ announcement to run again in 2020 has ignited new hope among the youth. A desire for change, for equality, motivates this young democratic-socialist movement.
While Sanders’ platform is undeniably progressive, he is simply not the candidate to challenge Trump’s campaign. In the 2016 upset, even Clinton, a promising candidate, lost to Trump. Since Sanders lost to Clinton, he is the runner-up to the runner-up. If the Democratic Party truly aims to unseat Trump, Sanders’ track record disqualifies him from serious consideration.
Younger candidates, like Harris or O’Rourke, are more relatable than Sanders. Born decades later, the two hopefuls can represent a new age in American politics. In contrast, the age and experience of Sanders roots him firmly in the status quo. At 72, incumbent Trump also finds his home in the older generation.
A progressive platform is the key to the success of a 2020 Democratic candidate. A solid stance against Trump’s politics best gives Americans a second viewpoint to choose from. Though Sanders may fit this broader category, he identifies as a socialist.
In Europe, socialist politics are old news, but in the United States, the definition carries a controversial connotation. During the aftermath of the Cold War, socialism’s similarity to communism threatened the idealism of a capitalist America. Although the actual meaning of socialism differs greatly from communism, the public opinion may be too averse for Sanders’ election. While younger politicians, like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez embrace the term, its status in the language has a long way to go before a president should classify him or herself as one.
For the Democratic Party, 2020 can be a turning point: reclaim the candidacy, reclaim the future of the country. Trump’s unique appeal as an outsider to Washington and a strong personality requires the need for a particular and special opponent.
Sanders, though appealing to youth, does not have what it takes to beat Trump. However, his support among the millenials and youth will be essential to a Democratic victory in 2020. As college students, the young adults of Providence College will be a key demographic target in the election. It is our chance to choose wisely.