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My Turn - Time for Dems to unify
Thomas Vaughn

With the 2020 Democratic National Convention scheduled to meet in Milwaukee, Wis., July 13-16 to choose the party’s nominees for president and vice president, it’s time to unify the party behind the presumptive nominee.

In case you missed it in the 24/7 media coverage of the coronavirus, former vice president Joe Biden is already the de facto nominee. After a slow and shaky start, he has demonstrated his appeal to a variety of voters across the ethnic, generational, ideological, and political spectrum. So far, he has amassed a total of 1,184 pledged delegates, with many more to add in over two dozen upcoming primaries. He needs 1,991 to win. 

Biden, warts and all, needs to be named the Democratic presidential nominee, the sooner the better. He has prevailed over 10 other contenders. Nine of them have dropped out and eight have endorsed and campaigned for him in recent primaries. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren remains coy, for reasons known only to her. 

Now it’s time for his sole opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, to fold his socialist tent and pull the plug on his quixotic quest for the Democratic nomination for president. He logged some early primary victories, but faded fast after losing South Carolina and a succession of so-called Super Tuesdays. Despite his clarion call for a “political revolution,” to “transform America,” his bombastic rhetoric fell on deaf ears among many voters. Biden went after Sanders like my dog Buddy does a bone, countering with, “I’m for results, not revolution!” That message resonated well around the country. 

So, it is bye-bye Bernie time for Sanders. With just 885 pledged delegates, his chances of reaching the magic 1,991 are slim and none. By accepting the obvious outcome and dropping out with dignity, he can do his part to help unify the party behind Biden. By endorsing Biden, and urging his own base to vote for Biden in remaining primaries and the general elections (plural-not singular!) in November, he can help even more.

Given the gravity of the ongoing coronavirus nationwide, further Democratic presidential primaries should be decided by mail-in votes, not in person. That accommodation to the safety and welfare of voters and poll workers could save thousands of lives and further unify the Democratic Party.

If you think I’ve converted to the Democratic Party, perish the thought. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, “I never left the Democrat Party, it left me.” I came to my independent senses decades ago. Now I vote for the “person over party” every time.

That said, I firmly believe in a viable, vigorous two-party system in the the USA. In my view, it’s the best way to protect and preserve our representative democracy with a small “d.” As Winston Churchill and others have aptly averred, “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” I approve that message! 

Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at