2020 Election

Bernie Sanders Bends the Knee to the Establishment, Again

Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I., Vt.) endorsement of former vice president Joe Biden marks the second straight election in which the Vermont senator took on the Democratic establishment before throwing his support behind the establishment candidate.

Sanders repeatedly boasted during the 2020 primary that his campaign was "taking on the Democratic establishment." He declared Biden's candidacy the "same old, same old establishment politics" and said the establishment was "freaking out" over his early success in the primaries.

Sanders officially capitulated on Monday after Biden gained an insurmountable lead in the primary fight. He told his supporters to back Biden, whom he has attacked for voting for the Iraq war, having ties to Wall Street, opposing Medicare for All, supporting free trade agreements, and their differences on entitlements.

"Joe and I have a very different voting record," Sanders said in March. "Joe and I have a very different vision for the future of this country. And Joe and I are running very different campaigns."

Similarly, in 2016, Sanders called his chief rival, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, the "candidate of the establishment" and said he was running the "anti-establishment campaign."

Sanders assailed Clinton for her vote for the Iraq war, ties to Wall Street, opposition to Medicare for All, past support for free trade agreements, and their differences on entitlements.

"I don't believe that she is qualified if she is through her super PAC taking tens of millions of dollars in special-interest funds," he said at an April 2016 rally. "I don't think that you are qualified if you get $15 million from Wall Street through your super PAC. I don't think you are qualified if you voted for the disastrous war in Iraq."

Then as now, Sanders was defeated by the candidate favored by Democratic leadership and eventually endorsed her White House run.

Sanders didn't hold out as long in 2020, endorsing in April instead of July.