Avoid a repeat of the 2016 election by nominating Bernie Sanders




On the night of November 8, 2016, I was shell-shocked by the news of Donald Trump’s victory. I spent most of the night struggling over my calculus homework, expecting a decisive victory for Hillary Clinton. After peeking my head into our common room and seeing the looks of terror on peoples’ faces, I realized the unthinkable happened. The media narrative that a moderate democrat was best suited to defeat Trump was wrong. That night taught me that beating Trump will require a bold, progressive agenda that speaks to the needs of everyday Americans, not a pursuit of incrementalism. I’m afraid that the country has forgotten this lesson. Bernie Sanders was the antidote then, and he is the antidote now; I believe only he can beat Trump. 

Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election through victories in key swing states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. An NBC news report found Trump visited these states 46 times more than Clinton in the final 102 days before the election. Alarming? Definitely. There’s no way that another democratic nominee repeats these same mistakes, right? Unfortunately, Joe Biden is on pace to match the 2016 strategy. He skipped campaigning in most Super Tuesday states.

It’s not just his absence of campaigning in key states that should raise eyebrows. Biden’s record, current base, and policies will lose in November. Based on the evidence below, Joe Biden loses to Trump.

Biden voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China, which cost the Rustbelt over 4 million jobs, per a 2019 NBC News analysis. We’re up against an incumbent president who won white working-class voters by 67% nationally, according to NYT exit polling data. Defeating Trump will require an unprecedented turnout of youth and disaffected voters who sat out the 2016 election. In a general election campaign with Biden as the Democratic nominee, Trump could hammer Biden on his anti-worker record and win among blue-collar workers again.

I believe Biden’s current platform and policies will lose to Trump. As of now, Biden’s essentially been running on a platform of “I can beat Trump.” That sounds great, but he rarely articulates how he will win. Trump’s campaign team has already fought this battle once before. Instead of bold and comprehensive plans to combat climate change, income inequality, or our dysfunctional healthcare system, Biden is advocating for a “return to normalcy” (which only plays well with his current base).

Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, will beat Trump.

Sanders’ voting record speaks to the key swing state voters we must win over in November. He voted against disastrous trade deals like NAFTA and PNTR with China. Sanders has proven to be the most pro-union member of Congress. Per the AFL-CIO, a federation of 55 unions, he has a nearly 100% lifetime pro-union voting record. Most importantly, Sanders didn’t trust Cheney and Bush when they lied about weapons of mass destruction In Iraq. Sanders led the effort against the war in Iraq. Biden supported the war.  

Sanders’ base would be enough to defeat Trump. The Washington Post’s exit polling shows that Sanders’ median support in Super Tuesday states for voters under the age of 29 was 43 points above Biden’s, and his median support in these states for independents was 8 points above Biden’s. NBC News exit polls found that Sanders won 43% of first-time voters on Super Tuesday, significantly more than the other candidates. To beat an incumbent president, the younger voters, independents, and disaffected voters who overwhelmingly back Sanders must be acknowledged. Also, a study by the Democracy Fund found 92% of Biden supporters would vote for Sanders in the general election. On the flipside, 94% of Sanders supporters would vote for Biden. Both of these statistics prove a vast majority of Democrats’ main goal is defeating Trump.

Sanders’ current platform and policies would beat Trump. The Washington Post’s exit polling found that Super Tuesday voters agree with Sanders on the issues by 13 points above Biden. These issues include Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and a $15 federal minimum wage. Sanders’ vision would not only benefit the entire country by combating climate change and guaranteeing healthcare as a human right, but also inspire key voters.

It’s imperative we, as Democrats, unite against an establishment which is following the same 2016 playbook. Inspired by Sanders’ grassroots movement, I co-founded Midd Students for Bernie in October of last year. Through canvassing, phonebanking, friend-to-friend outreach, we are building a progressive movement to oust Trump. I hope supporters of Elizabeth Warren, a progressive champion for working-class families, choose to join our movement to beat Trump and transform our government and economy. Will we choose the moderate lane which ends in perpetual defeat to populists like Trump, or will we choose the progressive lane which can defeat Trump and improve the lives of millions of American families? If you haven’t voted yet, consider voting for the best candidate who can beat Trump: Bernie Sanders. Reach out to friends and family in states which have yet to vote like New York and Connecticut and remind them what we’re up against. If you’re inclined to volunteer for the campaign, visit BernieSanders.com/volunteer! While Biden has a SuperPac and Wall-Street donors behind him, Sanders’ has the support of millions of grassroots activists. Only Sanders has the agenda that can defeat Trump and bring-about much needed change. When it comes to defeating Trump, whose side are you on?  

Tarik Shahzad is a member of the class of 2020 and co-founder of Midd Students for Bernie.