Communication junior Sophia Blake worked on the 2020 campaign for her home state candidate, Elizabeth Warren, over the summer and canvassed in Iowa in February. She even considered dropping everything to work for the senator’s general election campaign had Warren prevailed among a deep field of Democratic primary contenders. A week after Warren’s departure from the race in early March, Blake started posting on her social media in support of Bernie Sanders, another progressive candidate who she agrees with on many issues, and pleaded with fellow Warren supporters to do the same. Like other Warren supporters, she had to cope with hurtful messages from the Sanders camp in the past.
However, after Sanders suspended his campaign last Wednesday, the switch of support from progressive candidates to Joe Biden, a centrist and the only Democrat left, has not been easy for Blake.
“I can’t imagine it being my job to truly convince people that he is necessarily good for the country,” Blake said.
Blake’s reluctance toward the former vice president is shared by progressives across the country. Sanders announced his endorsement for the former vice president on a Twitter livestream on Monday. In the comments below, many Twitter users vowed to never vote for Biden.
Biden has struggled to gain support from younger voters throughout this election cycle. At Northwestern, those who supported Sanders are wary of rallying behind Biden in the general election.
Communication first-year Gwen Giedeman, who voted for Sanders in this year’s Texas primary on March 3, said she is disappointed by Sanders’ endorsement of Biden because the two candidates are so different ideologically. Beyond policy considerations, Giedeman thinks Biden is seen as having a weak personality. Sexual assault allegations against Biden and his past record with racial minorities worry her as well.
As a 19-year-old first time voter, Giedeman said voting in November is “definitely a big deal” for her. She plans to look into third party candidates who can better represent her values, but with Biden recently moving toward the left on various policies, she will consider voting for him too.
Similarly, Vanessa Obi, a Weinberg sophomore from Kansas City, was shocked by Sanders’ exit and endorsement of Biden. She has phone banked and canvassed for Sanders with campus group NU4Bernie. She favors Sanders because of his support of the Green New Deal, wealth equality and universal healthcare.
In Obi’s opinion past administrations, Republicans and Democrats alike, have not always advocated for low-income people like herself, nor has the centrism Biden represents worked well for people of color or women. As a result, for Obi, the choice between Biden and Trump is to choose between the “lesser of two evils”, and not being able to vote for a candidate that strongly represents her demographic is very upsetting.
“I guess I’ll grudgingly vote for Biden, with some apprehension in that,” Obi said. “But I don't think there's as big of a difference between Biden and Trump as a lot of people think there is.”
Despite her disapproval of Biden, who she believes should be disqualified from the race for being a sexual predator, Blake said she will vote for the former vice president in November as a vote against Trump.
Among other reasons, Blake said Biden’s stance on reproductive justice and the possibility of a vacant Supreme Court seat in the next four years makes her feel better about voting for him. For now, she hopes the progressive movement as a whole can hold Biden accountable for fighting for the environment, women, people of color, immigrants and incarcerated people.
“I really hope I can say that he has earned our votes,” Blake said. “Because as of right now, he has not.”