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Dave Zweifel and John Nichols: Biden, Bernie and the need for a progressive turn

Dave Zweifel and John Nichols: Biden, Bernie and the need for a progressive turn

Primary purgatory with no 12th Democratic debate on horizon (copy)

FILE - In this June 27, 2019, file photo, Democratic presidential candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speak at the same time during the Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. What might be the final showdown between the two very different Democratic candidates takes place Tuesday, March 17, 2020, during Florida's presidential primary. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

If Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee for president, The Capital Times will undoubtedly support his challenge to Donald Trump. By every measure that this newspaper applies to politics, the former vice president is superior to the current president.

But we would be dishonest if we suggested that Biden was our first, second or third choice for the Democratic nomination. We preferred a number of the other prospects, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Housing Secretary Julián Castro and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

As the April 7 primary approaches, however, Warren and Castro are out of the running and Sanders trails Biden in the race for delegates by a margin that many analysts suggest is insurmountable.

We understand that a good number of Wisconsin Democratic primary voters will choose to cast a party unity vote for Biden — on the theory that it is time to close the deal and get down to the serious business of taking on Trump.

Fair enough.

But we also understand that a good many voters will choose to cast their ballots for Sanders because he continues to offer a bolder and more progressive vision for the future of the party and the nation.

Sanders has always been on the right side of the issues that matter most to The Capital Times: establishing a single-payer “Medicare for All” health care system, addressing the climate crisis, raising wages for working Americans, reforming the criminal justice system and forging a foreign policy based on diplomacy and the pursuit of peace. Now, with the coronavirus outbreak, the changes he proposes make all the more sense. Indeed, polls show they enjoy overwhelming support not just among Sanders backers but among the great mass of Democrats.

To our view, a vote for Sanders in the April 7 primary is the best way to send a message about the need for the Democratic Party to take a progressive turn on those issues. We believe that every vote for Sanders, no matter who the eventual nominee may be, is a vote for a more focused and effective Democratic message in November.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times.

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