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Sanders' impact on party sure to last

Sen. Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination is running on fumes entering Sunday night’s planned debate with former Vice President Joe Biden. The question is when Sanders will admit the tank has run dry.

Many pundits believe it already has — Sanders got steamrolled by the resurgent Biden on March 3, Super Tuesday, losing 10 of the 14 states, and then had another rough night last week when Biden won four of the six states including Michigan, the biggest prize.

Florida, Arizona, Ohio and Illinois hold their primaries this week. Biden is expected to win all four. Indeed, the data analysis website FiveThirtyEight.com predicts Sanders to win only three of the remaining 26 state primaries on the calendar — Oregon, Rhode Island and Wyoming.

Yet Sanders is vowing to stay in the race, even as he acknowledges his campaign is foundering. “We are losing the debate over electability,” he said Wednesday.

That’s a point that Democratic primary voters, and former candidates, seemed to grasp after Sanders came out of the early primary and caucus states as the clear front-runner — having a socialist at the top of the ticket would potentially be disastrous.

Biden won big in South Carolina, promptly picked up a slew of endorsements from all levels of the Democratic Party, and has been rolling ever since.

Biden is considered a moderate Democrat — as were Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and many others in the field that once numbered more than 20. However, as The Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman noted last week, Biden is promoting raising taxes by more than twice as much as Hillary Clinton would have just four years ago.

That’s just one example of how far left the party has moved in recent years, due largely to Sanders’ influence.

Bill Press, a progressive author and podcast host, noted in an essay last week in The Hill that, “With only slight variations on a theme, every single Democratic candidate in 2020, left or center, ran on the Sanders platform.”

Even Biden and Sanders “actually agree on far more than they disagree,” Press says.

“Both champion universal health care, raising the minimum wage, raising taxes on the wealthy, wiping out student debt, making college affordable, if not free, and leading the fight against climate change,” Press writes. “They differ only on how to get there.”

Press contends that Sanders’ chief reason for running in 2016 was to advance progressive issues that Clinton wouldn’t raise. Sanders wound up giving Clinton all she could handle; she moved further and further to the left during the campaign and needed help from the Democratic National Committee to win the nomination.

Sanders has “succeeded beyond his wildest dreams,” Press argues. “He’s changed the entire direction of the Democratic Party. His agenda is now the Democratic Party’s agenda.”

Sanders may not remain in this race much longer. But there’s no denying his impact will.

The Oklahoman Editorial Board

The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Kelly Dyer Fry, Publisher, Editor and Vice President of News; Owen Canfield, Opinion Editor; and Ray Carter, Chief Editorial Writer.. To submit a letter to the editor, go to this page or email... Read more ›

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