As the race to win the Democratic nomination in the primaries for the presidential election draws nearer, fundraising efforts are becoming crucial to separate oneself from the rest of the pack.
Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who has been battling it out for first place against the progressive vanguard of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, is falling behind both them and Pete Buttigieg in overall donations. This is happening despite the fact that Biden raised the most money from donations exceeding $500, according to Politico. Sanders and Warren are respectively leading in terms of donations, a testament to the power of small donations from a wide pool of donors.
With an average donation roughly 2.5 times the size of Sanders’s, Biden illustrates that, while neoliberal posturing may attract support from media pundits and establishment figures, this moderation does not spark the type of passionate, grassroots support needed to mobilize small donors.
People are obviously less likely to get excited about a moderate candidate. So then, what is so special about Sanders and Warren? What is it about progressive candidates like these two, who are not only leading in fundraising efforts but also national and state-level polls, that gets people excited?
The answer is this: when someone donates to Sanders and Warren, they are not simply giving money to a campaign. They are making an investment in their future.
By casting a vote for either of these two candidates, voters are ensuring they will have a place to stay if their life takes a turn and then end up without a job. They have put money towards the security of knowing they can take their kids to the hospital and still be able to buy groceries next week. In doing so, they are giving up more of their own money than most big corporations are willing to part with in order to make the planet clean and habitable for generations to come.
The people who support these candidates are supporting the attempt at a more just, equal America not only for themselves but for all people who deserve a little extra help in life. The prospect of this is very different than those who support Biden, who likely support a “return to normal” in America — just enough justice to satiate privileged Democrats, fly under Republicans’ radars, and maintain the status quo of political discourse.
There is something to be said for what lights a spark in the American public. Maybe Sanders or Warren won’t have the easiest road to beating U.S. President Donald Trump. Maybe they won’t sway older, more moderate voters. Maybe they won’t even win.
But maybe they will.
Maybe those moderate voters will see in them what their donors, the ones who send in the $20 they may have had trouble scraping together, see in them. Maybe they will see the hope for a better America for everyone.
Biden does not excite the same grassroots support because the former vice president is simply not bringing new, exciting ideas to the table. The year 2020 is not the time for playing by the usual rules and banking on a “safe” candidate — that’s what happened in 2016, and look where we are now. In 2020, we need something new, groundbreaking and progressive, to make sure Trump is only a single-term president.