Crowded Democratic primary race may result in Trump victory

Graphic by Penelope Taylor ’20

Graphic by Penelope Taylor ’20


The Democratic primary race for the 2020 election is already likely to be the largest in history, according to TIME Magazine. There are currently 12 Democrats who have declared their candidacy and, according to the New York Times, there are 14 more who may declare soon. I believe that the sheer number of candidates will split the Democratic party and allow Donald Trump to win another term as president.

It is important for Democrats, including myself, to reflect on the 2016 Democratic primary and the following election in order to identify and avoid the mistakes that led to Trump’s presidency. In 2016, I was a staunch Bernie Sanders supporter. I loved his radical ideas for improving our country, I loved how consistent he had been throughout his entire political career and I loved how genuine he was about wanting to make things better for all Americans. I took Sanders’ side on debates with my family and friends, repeatedly pointing out his strengths along with Hillary Clinton’s flaws to prove my point. So when Clinton won the primaries, I had a hard time supporting her. It was difficult to accept her faults when just months before I had fought so hard to convince others that they were meaningful enough to not vote for her. It also felt much harder to support her when someone who I had considered a much better candidate had almost won.

The way I conceptualized it was that Clinton was the lesser of two evils, and I know many other Sanders sup- porters who thought about the election the same way. But the “lesser of two evils” argument is not strong enough to sway undecided voters.

Many will remember the “Bernie or bust” voters — the people who supported Sanders in the primary but did not vote for Clinton in the general election — and many will blame them for Clinton’s loss, including Clinton herself. I believe this analysis is simpli ed and does not encompass the whole truth. Regardless, 2016 showed us that a divided party is a weaker party.

I have already seen people argue that some of the negative characteristics of the current Democratic candidates are unforgivable, such as Elizabeth Warren’s history of labeling herself as Native American or Cory Booker’s vote against lowering prescription drug prices. I am afraid that, in such a large group of candidates who do agree on many social and economic issues, topics such as these will be the focus of the race even more so than they were in 2016. While I agree that the negative characteristics I mentioned are important to consider, if the candidates tear each other down for the next year and a half, Democratic voters will yet again and it difficult to unify behind the candidate that ultimately wins.

Obviously, I cannot stop anyone from running for president. What I can do is urge voters to support whoever wins the Democratic primary. This election is not the time for moral purity. Not voting or voting for a third party candidate is essentially the same as voting for Trump. I would also argue that not fully supporting whoever wins the Democratic primary is a similarly destructive act. So if you do not want Trump to win a second time in 2020, please, promise yourself now that you will support whichever candidate wins the Democratic primary.