Bernie Sanders drops out, a ‘gut punch’ for Wisconsin progressives

By: - April 8, 2020 1:57 pm

Bernie Sanders. Photo by Nick Solari, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The news that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the race to be the Democratic nominee for president, coming the day after Wisconsin’s chaotic primary election, is a “gut punch,” says Mike McCabe, the head of Our Revolution Wisconsin, the grassroots group that grew out of Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.

“The last couple of days have been some of the darkest I’ve ever seen in Wisconsin in my lifetime,” says McCabe. 

McCabe says that state Republicans’ push to have in-person voting despite the pandemic shows the “only thing they cared about was a low-turnout election” and makes him even more convinced that “we need to revolutionize our politics.” 

As for Sanders’ decision, he says: “I was disappointed by all the people in the Democratic Party ranks and even in our own organization who reached the conclusion that the race was over and people needed to unify behind the presumptive nominee.” 

Pointing out that there are still 26 primaries and caucuses that have not yet been held, he adds, “It’s so sad that half the country never gets to weigh in and express their preference and the race is decided and over. That’s no way to nominate a candidate for president. What people think in half the country doesn’t matter.”

In his online speech to supporters, Sanders explained that “we are now some 300 delegates behind Vice President Biden, and the path toward victory is virtually impossible.”

Sanders acknowledged “some in our movement who disagree with this decision, who would like to see us fight on to the last ballot cast at the Democratic Convention.”

“But as I see the crisis gripping the nation, exacerbated by a president unwilling or unable to provide any kind of credible leadership, and the work that needs to be done to protect people in this most desperate hour,” he said, “I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win, and which would interfere with the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour.”

Sanders reminded his supporters that he remains on the ballot in states that have not voted yet, and that he will continue to gather delegates so that he has leverage to influence the policy positions in the Democratic Party platform and the Biden campaign.

McCabe says he and other progressives “are going to have to take some time to absorb the gut punch,” of the end of the campaign. But, he adds, “the kind of change America needs cannot be accomplished by one individual. And it can’t be accomplished in one election. It took years to get in the mess we’re in, and it’s gonna take time to get out of that mess.”

Pointing to the country’s  woefully inadequate healthcare system, failure to adapt to climate change, and growing economic injustice and political disenfranchisement, McCabe says: “The kind of politics we need to face these mammoth problems does not currently exist. We have to create those politics. … Citizens need to step forward and fill the vacuum.”

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Ruth Conniff
Ruth Conniff

Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine where she worked for many years from both Madison and Washington, DC. Shortly after Donald Trump took office she moved with her family to Oaxaca, Mexico, and covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Trump. Conniff is the author of "Milked: How an American Crisis Brought Together Midwestern Dairy Farmers and Mexican Workers" which won the 2022 Studs and Ida Terkel award from The New Press. She is a frequent guest on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and three daughters.