Senator Bernie Sanders has thrown in the hat for the US Presidential race

by Chidanand Rajghatta

WASHINGTON: Bernie Sanders, the self-proclaimed socialist democrat from Vermont who electrified America’s collegiate constituency over two election cycles, is dropping out of the 2020 Presidential race, leaving the route clear for establishment candidate Joe Biden to clinch the party nomination to take on Donald Trump.

Sanders made the announcement in a call to his campaign staff on Wednesday, and he is expected to offer a more public explication later in a day, even as there is some suspense over how the long, theatrical election cycle will proceed n course of the year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Most states have suspended the primary elections that are aimed at choosing party line candidates, and although it is now clear who the two candidates will be, the formal process of anointing the candidate at the party convention is still up in the air.

Democrats have postponed their convention from July to August, and while Republicans have indicated they intend to go ahead with their August convention, social distancing norms have introduced a new dimension to an event that is the last word in close-quarter networking, glad-handling, and flesh-pumping. America has never been here before.

Sanders was last of the Democratic candidates standing after more than a dozen aspirants for the party nomination fell by the wayside on the long road of primaries and caucuses which has been interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. Biden has established an almost insurmountable lead in the race before the coronavirus interrupted the exercise. Most candidates who dropped out have backed Biden, and Sanders is expected to do the same amid claims that he has succeeded in moving the party left.

Although Sanders had many Indian-American followers, particularly among left-leaning academia and students, New Delhi will be relieved that they will be dealing with Joe Biden – a known entity – should he go on to become the next U.S President. Sanders’ left-liberal position on India’s domestic issues had irked New Delhi, which found it hard to make its case to what it saw as a ideologically hide-bound group of lawmakers that included his supporters such as Pramila Jayapal, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez.

Biden, who is now 77 (and will be 78 on Nov 20) will be the oldest Democratic nominee in a Presidential election. Trump is now 73 (74 on June 14), and together they will form the oldest presidential field in US history.