It’s clear that Bernie Sanders will not be the Democratic nominee for president, and a statement released by his campaign on Wednesday indicated that he may drop out in the coming weeks. He shouldn’t.
Sanders’ already-narrow path to the Democratic nomination has been all but slammed shut, as former Vice President Joe Biden romped in all three states that voted on Tuesday: Florida, Illinois, and Arizona. (Ohio, which was scheduled to vote, pushed its primary back at the insistence of the governor and with the backing of the Supreme Court.)
Given that Sanders has now lost 8 out of the last 10 primary contests (North Dakota and the Northern Mariana Islands are his only wins since last Tuesday), and because Biden has a comfortable delegate lead, it’s inevitable that the campaign is looking for an exit strategy.
But if Sanders drops out, he’ll forfeit the unique position he has, as both a top candidate and a senator, to influence the party’s (and ultimately, if Biden wins, the next government’s) coronavirus response. And, he could tank Democratic turnout even further in a crucial purple state election.
As the results from Florida began to roll in on Tuesday, Sanders was delivering a speech (via the internet) about how he would tackle the coronavirus. His plans include creating an emergency agency to deal with the economic damage, immediately distributing $2,000 per month to everyone in the country for the duration of the crisis, and expanding unemployment insurance to gig and other “non-traditional” workers.
Sanders also called for suspending student loan payments, mortgage payments, and evictions for the duration of the crisis. And perhaps most importantly, he proposed using the existing Medicare system to ensure that all coronavirus testing and treatment is covered at no cost to the patient.
With his plan, Sanders planted a flag for the left that stands in contrast to some of the proposals being thrown out by the Trump administration and by congressional Democrats. A Senate plan from former presidential candidates Michael Bennet and Cory Booker (as well as Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown) is offering up to $4,500 per person this year to deal with the crisis.