On March 17 — what seems a lifetime ago — Joe Biden beat Bernie Sanders in the Florida Democratic primary.
Beat isn’t strong enough. Biden trounced Sanders. Knocked him out of the park.
Biden got 62% of the vote in Florida; Sanders got 23%. Put another way, Biden took in more than a million votes; Sanders didn’t crack 400,000.
Biden also won Illinois and Arizona that day, and on Super Tuesday two weeks before he won 10 out of 14 states.
The reason for Biden’s success in Florida and around the country wasn’t all that complicated: Democrats want a candidate who can beat Donald Trump, a person singularly unsuited to serve as president of these United States.
The coronavirus outbreak has proved those get-rid-of-Trump instincts to be spot on. He is the worst possible leader to guide us through the worst national crisis since World War II.
Beating the virus, saving lives and preserving our economy are the nation’s top priorities at this moment. Come this November, the priority is ensuring Trump does not have a second term.
That’s why Sanders needs to drop out of the Democratic primary. Not later. Not after Congress has acted on the present crisis.
Nothing is gained from Sanders staying in the race. Nothing. His chances of overtaking Biden are infinitesimal, even more so now with America facing years of recovery from the economic, societal and psychological damage of coronavirus.
Fewer and fewer people are in the mood for the kind of upheaval Sanders trades on. We’re undergoing an upheaval now, and people already are exhausted from it. And we still face long weeks or maybe months of isolation, disruption and uncertainty.
The nation’s going to need someone who can heal, and Bernie — with all his anger, resentment and white-hot revolutionary rhetoric — isn’t that someone.
Biden is. He has experience in both executive and legislative branches. He is better positioned to form an administration with the expertise needed to handle the difficult rebuilding ahead (another obvious shortcoming of the Trump administration).
Just as important, he possesses compassion and empathy, traits that an ailing nation needs now but cannot get from the current president.
There’s plenty in Biden’s platform to make Sanders’ supporters happy.
Biden wants to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, a move that surely will gain support considering the risks that low-wage workers are taking every day to provide Americans with the essentials, like keeping us fed.
He wants to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and add a Medicare-like public option for those who want it. He wants to help college graduates with their debt load.
There’s more in the Biden agenda for progressives to like, but it’s also an agenda that won’t drive many Americans away, as Sanders’ plans would.
Policy differences aside, Sanders needs to leave the race for the good of his party and of his country.
With so much economic and social uncertainty, Democrats do not need the political uncertainty his continued candidacy needlessly creates. We don’t know when the rest of the primaries will be held. The Democratic convention just got moved to August but it’s still not clear if it’ll even take place. Even the process for voting in each state is murky.
Sanders needs to throw his full support behind Biden, assuring his ardent supporters — especially young voters, whose futures hang in the balance — that Sanders isn’t surrendering his beliefs but is doing what’s best for his nation.
It’s difficult to articulate how high the stakes are. America is weathering this crisis with a president who, even now, remains fixated on himself, musing at Wednesday’s briefing about his status as No. 1 on Facebook.
Sanders can get us past this more quickly and less painlessly if he would just relent.
Leave the race.
Throw your unequivocal support behind Joe Biden.
Help us get through this and be remembered as a patriot.
©2020 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)