Democrats, want to win in 2020? Unify.

Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. were two of the candidates present at the most recent Democratic debate in Houston. The present issue is not whether or not the Democrats can choose a nominee in June, but rather whether or not the candidates will have been bashed beyond repair by their competition.  Photo courtesy of David J. Phillip/The Associated Press.

Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. were two of the candidates present at the most recent Democratic debate in Houston. The present issue is not whether or not the Democrats can choose a nominee in June, but rather whether or not the candidates will have been bashed beyond repair by their competition. Photo courtesy of David J. Phillip/The Associated Press.

As of this moment, 224 Democrats in the House of Representatives have issued their support of an impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump. By coming together, all but twelve of the House Democrats have signaled that they are behind the decision as made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to investigate the President and his conduct with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. This move by House Democrats is a shocking but welcome display of unity over an issue that has caused an incredible amount of back-and-forth for the last several months, causing many in the Democratic Party to wonder if such an inquiry was to ever take place. Here, the House was able to rally the support needed on a key issue and press for change and progress.  

The same cannot be said of the 19 remaining Democrats running for president. To be fair, this is a competition. Only one of these 19 individuals will be standing at the podium in Milwaukee accepting their party’s support and nomination for the general election. However, the issue is not whether or not the Democrats can choose a nominee in June, but rather whether or not the candidates will have been bashed beyond repair by their competition.  

For example, the most recent debate in Houston had a number of memorable moments, with especially memorable exchanges between former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. What was initially a debate about healthcare suddenly became an attack by Castro on Biden’s mental state and ability to remember his words. At 76, Biden is among the oldest candidates, but is also a frontrunner for the nomination. Painting him as forgetful and ill-prepared is not only an arguable cheap shot, but may weaken support for the most popular and most likely candidate for the nomination, creating some disruption within the party.  

Only one of these 19 individuals will be standing at the podium in Milwaukee accepting their party’s support and nomination for the general election.

An additional example came from Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Again, during the debate over healthcare, she thanked Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) for his work on Medicare for All. However, she then quipped that while Sanders had only written the bill, she had actually read it. While Sanders’ support within the party has usually come from the most liberal of the democratic base, Klobuchar’s comments can only alienate those who have supported Sanders’ base for decades, and who make up a strong and rising portion of the DNC’s electorate.  

If there was a takeaway moment from Houston, it was a series of comments made by Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana and businessman Andrew Yang. Yang, seeing Biden and Castro arguing, urged them to stop. Upon hearing this, Buttigieg lamented that the political infighting taking place on stage behind him was why politics had become unbearable, and that his competition should settle down. His comments were almost immediately hit with opposition from the likes of Castro.  

What Buttigieg’s and Yang’s comments speak to is precisely why presidential primaries can become such taxing processes. By the time a decision is reached, both the candidates and the voters are exhausted from months of speeches, debates and potential infighting. However, in an election such as this one, this third point needs to be avoided at all costs. Eventually, Democrats will need to come together to choose a nominee, and specifically one that can oust President Trump. To pull of this feat, the party will need to come together and unify behind this chosen candidate, whomever they may be. The House managed to pull this feat off with regard to impeachment. For the sake of the DNC, the voters and the country itself, the candidates should make this decision to pull together sooner rather than later.  


 Julia Markfield is a contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at julia.markfield@uconn.edu.