Sanders bowed out of the race the minute his momentum stalled, at the very same time that the greatest combined health and economic calamity in U.S. history was gripping the nation by the throat – a teaching moment if one ever existed, if health care and economic inequality were really Sanders’ top priority. He did acknowledge the ballooning crisis: “In terms of health care, this current, horrific crisis that we are now in has exposed for all to see how absurd our current employer-based health insurance system is. The current economic downturn we are experiencing has not only led to a massive loss of jobs but has also resulted in millions of Americans losing their health insurance.”
And then he quit the race, relinquishing the presidential primary bully-pulpit in favor of senatorial duties that could easily have been accomplished as a candidate, given that in-person campaign rallies and such aren’t allowed during the emergency. Bernie’s early Return of the Prodigal Son to the bosom of the Party allows him to escape the deep critique of capitalist medicine and political-economy that would be required of a “leftish” presidential candidate as this never-in-our-lifetimes crisis unfolds. In the presence of catastrophe, the logic of Sanders’ own rhetoric would have forced him to go beyond the limits of capitalist discourse – the only language Democrats allow – both in his analysis and campaign planks. Sanders chose to cut the process short, while he could still go home to the Party.