NOTE: I am writing this post as I await Bernie Sanders’ statement on the state of the campaign for the Democratic nomination scheduled for 1:00 pm this afternoon.
As an empirical pragmatist, I cannot believe in heaven or any other place in which we supposedly live after our time as a living, breathing human being is over. However, as an empirical pragmatist, I do believe in eternal life. It is called legacy. Jesus, George Washington, Gandi, Martin Luther King live on because of their values and the lives they led. And it also applies to less virtuous people. Adolf Hitler will be part of our discourse for decades if not centuries to come.
So how does this apply to Bernie Sanders? Today, the Vermont senator has one of those rare opportunities to seal his legacy for better or worse. If I were a Sanders’ advisor, this is what I would say to him. “Senator, do you really want to go down in history as the person who was responsible for four more years of Donald Trump in the White House?” I am not suggesting if Sanders stays in the race, Trump will win in November. But it is more possible. And the “Bernie factor” will be a topic of discussion for years to come.
So Bernie, consider that scenario compared to the following remarks I have prepared for your 1:00 pm announcement.
Today America is at a crossroads. And each of us must decide what matters most. Our own ambitions or the general welfare. We now know what it looks like and how it feels when our leaders put their own interests above the nation’s interest.
That is the decision I face today. And as much as I think we could still win the nomination and the presidency, at what cost? Politics becomes an afterthought in light of the crises we face. A health crisis. An economic crisis. And most important, the existential threat of a president who is unwilling to tell us the truth and is unprepared to deal with a potential nationwide disaster.
We have accomplished a lot in this campaign. We have raised issues that needed to be part of the national debate. And I will continue to press these issues with the next president of the United States. And today I am announcing I am endorsing Joe Biden to be that person. Joe is a friend and a good, decent person who wants many of the same things I and my supporters want for the American people.
I have talked with vice-president Biden and we have agreed to curtail all future political activities and focus on helping Americans deal with the current health crisis, which the World Health Organization just said is now a global pandemic.
To all of you who have been part of this campaign, I urge you remain part of our movement. We are not done. But for now, we have a more urgent calling.
Much has been said recently about how some aspects of the Sanders campaign mirrors Trump’s. The rabid loyalty of some of his supporters. Verbal attacks against the media and the “establishment.” If Sanders wants to demonstrate this is an unfair comparison, today is his opportunity.
In 10 minutes we will learn a lot about Sanders’ legacy. Will it be as the person who put aside personal ambition to ensure Donald Trump spends the next four years anywhere but 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or the individual who made his own goal of “defeating Trump” just that much harder.
For what it’s worth.