The unity issue is a distraction


Unity 2/27

The United States breathes division. From the inception of the American political system it has been about division. It is a political culture that eats, sleeps and breathes division. In truth, the only tangible difference between the levels of division from three decades ago is the advancement of social media. Social media has made political education of the masses much easier, as well as giving bloated voices to the loudest of us. 

Yet, one of the largest rhetorical issues in the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary is unity. Candidates Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren have all made the unity issue one of the central themes in their struggle for the presidency. Who will be able to unite the people of this country and bring us together after four years of division?

The candidates have spent less time arguing for their own ability to be the “unity candidate” and more time attacking Bernie Sanders and his supporters for not being the unity candidate.  

The unity argument is a vapid one. It’s an argument that not only doesn’t work with each of the individual candidates’ policies or personalities, but even if it was genuine — which it is not — it is a severe mischaracterization of Sanders’s campaign to say he is not the unity candidate.

It must first be noted that Buttigieg and Biden are both campaigning on the promise of a return to Obama era “vibes.”And if that is what they would bring to the Oval Office then the question must be asked: what was the atmosphere the Obama era defined other than pointless partisanship and division? In the case of Warren, the unity argument points out general problems with her authenticity. Do her and her supporters believe that trying to implement progressive healthcare policy, even if it is more incremental, would not cause immense division? 

But the candidates aren’t talking about division once they are in office, really. They are using the unity argument to shame many of the enthusiastic, passionate and admittedly aggressive Sanders supporters. And while not supporting the most progressive candidate for the nomination because a few people were either mean or disagreed with you on Twitter is possibly the most narcissistic and short-sighted approach to this process, the discussion around unity is really indicative of the inability of the Democratic Party to learn. 

The Hillary Clinton campaign was plagued with an inability to stand up to the crass rhetoric of Donald Trump and his supporters. This gave the impression that Clinton was lacking any kind of backbone. And now that there is a front-runner in the primary that could rival Trump in 2016 who is politically consistent and the most progressive policy wise, the Democratic establishment is trying to eliminate him. 

It is extremely ignorant or extremely dishonest to brand Sanders and his supporters as “Trumpish.” Not only does Sanders have the most diverse and passionate supporter base, but his campaign has created one of the largest grassroots movements in political history — all without the help of the billionaire class, which every other candidate mentioned has. 

The unity issue is a distraction. It is an attempt not only to silence Sanders and his supporters when they point out issues with other candidates or disagree with more moderate democrats. The unity issue is also a call for a return to calm complacency, when in reality, the American people should not and have never been complacent with injustice and corruption, a fact that will continue to be manifested in Bernie Sanders’ excellent results in the race for the nomination.