Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign on Wednesday, admitting the path to victory was “virtually impossible” and effectively handing former Vice President Joe Biden the Democratic nomination.
Nevertheless, Sanders said he will opt to remain on the primary ballot, in an effort to collect "as many delegates as possible" in order to “exert significant influence over the party platform and functions” at this summer’s Democratic National Convention.
Varshini Prakash is co-founder and executive director of the Sunrise Movement and a Bernie Sanders surrogate in Massachusetts. She joined WBUR's Morning Edition to discuss Sanders' profound influence on Democratic politics and the way forward for his legions of devoted supporters.
On Bernie Sanders' exit from the race and the way forward
We're feeling disappointed, and at the same time, I do believe, you know, the best way to honor the legacy of the campaign that Bernie Sanders ran and honor the legacy of the millions of people who volunteered and voted for him, is to continue to fight for the bold and compassionate vision that he had for America through electing and engaging in down-ballot races. For example, electing people like Sen. Ed Markey here in Massachusetts, but also a number of others.
On Joe Biden
The ultimate goal here is we have to come together to defeat Trump. So I think whoever the Democratic nominee ends up being, Sunrise Movement will work to endorse and support that nominee to become president of the United States. I think we've got to be honest, however ... that there currently lies a pretty significant generational divide in this nation. Most of the voters under 40 or 45 voted overwhelmingly for Bernie Sanders. ...if Joe Biden wants to put together that winning coalition — the Obama coalition that won in 2008 — I think he's going to need to do a lot better with young voters. And he can ... start by embracing a lot of the policies that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders had, that catapulted them to the top of the list for young voters.
"[T]he best way to honor the legacy of the campaign that Bernie Sanders ran and honor the legacy of the millions of people who volunteered and voted for him, is to continue to fight for the bold and compassionate vision that he had for America through electing and engaging in down-ballot races."
On distrust of the Democratic establishment
We were born — certainly my generation and certainly Generation Z coming up behind me — born into endless war, into a financial crisis and then a subsequent bailout for Wall Street. We are the climate generation, for those born after 2000; they've never seen a year that wasn't one of the hottest years on record. We're seeing school classrooms become killing fields and mass incarceration of black and brown folks.
I think we need to see that Joe Biden understands the level of fear and anguish we feel for our future and ... is pushing for an ambitious, bold vision for America. Not just to defeat Trump and stop at that. Not just a quote-unquote 'return to normalcy of 2016,' but actually an improvement and a better economic vision for the country.
On the chances that Bernie Sanders supporters back Joe Biden for president
I don't think this is necessarily in the bag for Joe Biden. I think the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency — there is a possibility — and that is terrifying to me, as someone who cares deeply about stopping the climate crisis, who is seeing the health pandemic that we are in and is frightened for her friends and family’s lives every single day.
It is clear that it is a matter of life and death that Donald Trump is removed from the presidency, and at the same time, I think it is not necessarily a secure proposition that Joe Biden is going to win. He's got to be able to win over Latino voters that Bernie Sanders held in a big way during the primaries; he's got to be able to win over young voters that Bernie Sanders held in a huge way in the primary.
This article was originally published on April 09, 2020.
This segment aired on April 9, 2020.