Sanders, Biden Exemplify Split in the Democratic Party
In the aftermath of Super Tuesday on March 3, two more Democratic presidential candidates have dropped out of the race: Michael Bloomberg and Senator Elizabeth Warren. That leaves Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden in a head-to-head contest for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Following Super Tuesday, Biden has pulled ahead with 78 more declared delegates than Sanders, but there is still plenty of time left before the Democratic National Convention in July. These two candidates exemplify the growing split between moderate and progressive Democrats.
Joe Biden stands as a popular moderate in the race, the perfect candidate for those not leaning too far to the right or left. He, of course, believes in the fundamental Democratic values (egalitarianism, protecting the environment and strengthening the social safety net); however, his specific policies are far more moderate than those of Sanders.
Bernie Sanders, who entered the race as the oldest (at age 78) but most progressive candidate, seems to appeal to younger generations the most. On top of the usual Democratic positions, he has far more radical ideas: first and foremost, he wants to raise taxes on the wealthy in order to pay for new and improved social programs. He also wants to eliminate mandatory minimums in prison sentencing and pay farmers to adopt climate-friendly practices.
While his ideas have made him exceedingly popular in many voters’ eyes, he is also seen as too much of a leftist to garner the support of Republicans considering voting against Trump.
Biden’s fatal flaw, on the other hand, is his seeming lack of real passion and courage to take risks, leading many Democrats to lack faith in his ability to implement real change.
A sharp contrast, for example, echoes between the two candidates’ views on student debt. While Sanders wants to eliminate all of it and make public universities free, Biden plans to adapt the amount to be paid to the annual income of the person with the student loan.
The split between the two candidates has, in turn, created a crack in the Democratic Party, one between those who see radical change as the only solution, and the others worried about the effects of moving too quickly—a dynamic seen countless times throughout history.
They both also have personal traits that cause apprehension among voters. Sanders is seen by many to be too old for the stress of the presidential position, especially considering he has already had a heart attack while on the campaign trail.
Biden, however, is only a year younger, and appears to many to seem almost older than Sanders in spirit and energy. Despite these aspects of the two candidates, they have both managed to garner immense support among voters, leaving it up in the air as to which one will emerge victorious.
Those voting in the upcoming Georgia Democratic primary will have to not only examine these two candidates closely, but also their own political beliefs. How much radical change do they believe America can really handle? Does slow, moderate growth truly work? Careful consideration and questioning of oneself must be done before making a decision.
Photos: Former vice president Joe Biden (left) holds a 154-delegate lead over Senator Bernie Sanders (right) as of March 11. Photos: Wikimedia Commons