Senator Bernie Sanders is suspending his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. The move clears the path for former Vice President Joe Biden to secure the nomination and face President Donald Trump in November.
Sanders, who has been a longtime ally to the LGBTQ+ community, had initially been considered a front-runner following his strong showing in Iowa and wins in New Hampshire and Nevada. His campaign lost steam following his defeat by Biden in South Carolina — a victory in California was not enough to reverse the tide.
"Please know that I do not make this decision lightly," the Senator said in a livestream today. "In fact, that has been a very difficult and painful decision. Over the past few weeks, Jane and I, in consultation with top staff, and many of our prominent supporters have made an honest assessment of the prospects for victory. If I believed that we had a feasible path to the nomination, I would certainly continue the campaign. But it's just not there."
While the Vermont senator has an enthusiastic base that supports his "democratic socialist" policies, including universal, government-run health insurance, his inability to appeal to a wider audience of more centrist Democrat voters proved to be his Achilles’ heel. Many, like the New York Times, pointed to his lack of widespread support among African American voters who are key to the Democratic party. As he ended his campaign he was some "300" delegates behind Biden, according to his own count.
That said, Sanders ran a grassroots campaign that has helped to shift that same party in ways that seem unprecedented in modern history.
"Few will deny that over the course of the past five years, our movement has won the ideological struggle," he said. "In so-called red states and blue states, purple states, a majority of the American people now understand that we must raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour, that we must guarantee health care as a right to all of our people, that we must transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and that higher education must be available to all regardless of income. It was not long ago that people considered these ideas radical and fringe. Today they are mainstream ideas, and many of them are already being implemented in cities and states across the country. That is what we have accomplished together."
Over the course of his campaign, many have pointed to Sanders' long history as an ally to LGBTQ+ folks. This brought him widespread support within the community: a poll showed that he won the most LGBTQ+ votes on Super Tuesday by a landslide. This came as a result of inclusive policies that imagined a new America.
"If we don't believe that we are entitled to live in a world of justice, democracy and fairness, without racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia or religious bigotry, we will continue to have massive income and wealth inequality, prejudice and hatred, mass incarceration, terrified immigrants, and hundreds of thousands of Americans sleeping out on the streets in the richest country on earth," he said in his announcement. "And focusing on that new vision for America is what our campaign has been about, and what in fact, we have accomplished."
But, the Senator is not done yet. Though he has suspended his campaign, he will not be removing his name from ballots of the remaining primaries.
"On a practical note, let me also say this, I will stay on the ballot and all remaining states and continue to gather delegates, while Vice President Biden will be the nominee," he said as a part of his closing. "We must continue working to assemble as many delegates as possible at the Democratic Convention, where we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform and other functions. Then together, standing united, we will go forward to defeat Donald Trump —the most dangerous president in modern American history — and we will fight to elect strong progressives, at every level of government, from Congress to the school board."
"As I hope all of you know, this race has never been about me," he continued. "I ran for the presidency because I believe that as a president, I could accelerate and institutionalize the progressive changes, that we are all building together. And if we keep organizing and fighting, I have no doubt, but that is exactly what will happen."