Multiple recent news reports have said that Bernie Sanders may be angling for another
presidential bid in 2020. The Hill reported that surveyed Democrats ranked Sen. Sanders also their top choice for 2020. As a centrist Democrat who wants a win in 2020, I say: Please, not Bernie.
Senator Sanders’ 2016 campaign caught many by surprise and mobilized larger numbers of young people behind causes like free education and single payer healthcare. His candidacy highlighted a growing block of far-left progressives in the party and pushed Hillary Clinton’s policy point farther left than she had likely hoped. I think this unplanned shift to the left hurt her in the general election, but that’s not why I’m opposed to Bernie as the 2020 nominee.
For one, Sen. Sanders is not a Democrat. A self-described democratic socialist, Sanders sits in the Senate as an independent, not a Democrat, and still is not a party member. True commitment to the Democratic cause would compel Sen. Sanders to join the party, but his
policies may be too far outside the Dem’s comfort zone.
Additionally, Bernie Sanders is just plain old. He’s currently 76 years old, and would be pushing 80 if he runs in 2020. This would provide his opposition with another major talking point against him, as voters are wary of candidates who could run into health issues that come with aging. His brand of democratic socialism is appealing to many young progressives, but a candidate must be able to charm moderates to win a national election. Sander’s opponent could easily prey on his socialist background, which is a red flag for many voters.
The Democratic party is full of young, bright candidates who could win the presidential election. In the Senate alone, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tammy Duckworth, Chris Murphy, Claire McCaskill, Cory Booker, and Maria Cantwell stand out. The House provides a few other young stars, like Seth Moulton or Joe Kennedy III (yep, those Kennedys).
In the end, the Democratic party shouldn’t settle for Bernie because of his past crowd appeal. They should go for a fresh new face who isn’t hampered by ideology, age, or lack of party loyalty.