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Quora Answer : Did Bernie Sanders fail because he thinks society is divided by class rather than by race? Is that why black people didn't support him?

Jun 26, 2020

I don't think that ... exactly.

But there may be an element of truth to it.

I would agree with Bernie that class is the real thing that divides society. And addressing class distinctions is the way to really heal society.

But ... obviously in the US, race is so prominent, both in terms of actual racism, and in terms of discourse about racism, that that message can get swamped.

Maybe black people didn't support Bernie because he seemed to be talking less about racism. Although any black person who looked into the matter would find that Bernie has an enviable record of standing with the black community.

I'm inclined to think that it was more nebulous and prosaic than that. That Bernie, being from NY and the north-east had relatively little connection with the southern states that flipped the primaries towards Biden. He may not have had the historical engagement with the black political leaders of those states that the Clinton machine had. And because the Democrat establishment was so obviously pushing for Biden, many of the black leaders just went with that.

There's a criticism of Bernie that he didn't try hard enough to engage those states and make more connections in the south before the presidential campaign. Possibly that's true. Possibly it's about ground-game and not networking there successfully.

That's probably part of it. Probably the co-ordinated move of the "centrist" Democrats to drop out and endorse Biden, while Warren stayed fighting for the Progressives helped to give Biden a sense of momentum while Bernie was still not the definitive alternative. (I'm not intending this as a big criticism of Warren, but it might be one more factor)

I think a lot of people thought "Biden is obviously the anointed Democratic choice. We can spend our energy fighting for Bernie. But really, any Democrat is better than Trump, it's probably better to get behind someone, and put our energies together fighting Trump, than waste the energy continuing to fight each other".

I disagree with that. I think it's a terrible mistake, partly because America could have had so much better with Bernie as president than it would get with Biden. And partly because I have real fear that Trump will beat Biden in a way he couldn't have beaten Bernie.

But I can understand someone who thought that way.

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