Commentary: Bernie Sanders is out of the race amid the coronavirus crisis

Bernie Sanders speaks to students during a campaign rally at Winston-Salem State University on March 5, 2020.

Commentary: Bernie Sanders is out of the race amid the coronavirus crisis
April 16
11:58 2020

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Senator Bernie Sanders made a valiant effort to become the Democratic presidential nominee. His platforms, which featured giving Americans free healthcare and forgiving student loans, resonated with many of us, just not enough of us. His political rallies were always filled with people extolling his ideas and beliefs.

There was a time just a few months ago when Sanders was leading in the polls and it looked as if Bernie and not Joe Biden would represent the Democratic Party. Senator Sanders and his supporters really believed he would become the next president of the United States of America.

The proposition of a Bernie Sanders’ presidency was almost signed and sealed, but it was not delivered. It came back return to sender. What happened? There were multiple things that happened, but I will only mention a few of them. 

First, Bernie Sanders never related to older Democratic voters. His rallies were always motivational; however, younger people seemed to be more in tune with them. These younger folks simply didn’t come out to vote. They stayed at home. They would cheer, but they wouldn’t vote. Voting means taking time out of your day or evening to do so. It means standing in line, sometimes long lines, to vote. Voting is serious business and requires patience.

Winning a contested Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary gave Senator Sanders early momentum; however, it was short-lived. I believe strongly that Representative Jim Clyburn happened to Bernie Sanders. Days before the South Carolina primary, Representative Clyburn endorsed former vice president Joe Biden for president. That signaled the beginning of the end for Bernie Sanders. He was cooked!

He lost the South Carolina primary and pretty much every other primary. His rise was surprising, and his fall was sudden. He went down so quickly that he was never able to regain the political stride that he had. After the mounting losses, it became more difficult for him to talk about free healthcare knowing that he wasn’t going to be the nominee.

What must Bernie Sanders do now? He must readily endorse and vigorously support Joe Biden. It is also important for him to get his supporters onboard. This must be done immediately and not be delayed. During his first run, he waited too long to support Hillary Clinton.

It is my view that if this happens early, that the Democrats will have a great chance of taking the White House. Sanders still has an important role to play within the Democratic Party. He can truly become a kingmaker. Biden and Sanders need to form a coalition of voters and push toward November. It can be done.

With COVID-19 on the minds of Americans, how will traditional voting play out? Will some form of social distancing be around in November? Will alternative forms of voting become more relevant? These and other questions are on the minds of Democratic and Republican strategists now.

Presidential debates will be held prior to the elections. Will we the people be allowed to attend? Will the debates be online from the candidates’ homes?

America has been in uncharted waters for a few months now and the path to recovery is still unclear. There are many scenarios that have been given. For example, social distancing is working, however we can’t practice that forever.

It is clear there will be a new normal in this country. Everyday things we did without thinking we will think twice about doing. Shaking hands and hugging won’t be practiced as much. Wearing gloves might become an everyday occurrence. 

The prevailing and unanswered question is: what will our new normal look like?

James B. Ewers Jr., Ed.D., is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator and can be reached at

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