COVID-19 shows that we're are interconnected, and we need progressive policies more than ever before

EDITOR’S NOTE: Following yesterday’s game of electoral hokey pokey — “The election’s on/The election’s off/The election’s on/Wait, we’re still figuring out” — the Ohio primary scheduled for today is currently off and in-person voting has been canceled, though absentee voting continues and all submitted ballots will count. Gov. Mike DeWine proposed June 2 for a new election day, the fight over which will now move to the courts. 

Because of COVID-19, over the next week I had planned to leave my house for only one reason: to vote for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.  

Whoever wins the presidential election will oversee our country as it recovers from what could turn into the most devastating public health crisis in our lifetime. I am convinced that Sanders is not only the best candidate for the job, but also the nominee best able to beat Donald Trump in the general election. 

One election that is still on? Best of Columbus, with voting continuing now at columbusalive.com. Also, sign up for our daily newsletter

COVID-19 demonstrates that our lives are interconnected. When our neighbors don’t have access to health care, we are all at greater risk of infectious diseases. When we are forced to go to work ill because we have no sick leave, lives are endangered. Likewise, when we all take common sense precautions and invest in public health, we can protect the health of our loved ones who are at the greatest risk. 

Sanders understands this reality. He’s been advocating the policies that we need right now for decades. He’s prepared to offer a full-throated call to action, demanding paid sick leave, a robust social safety net and Medicare for All. 

Last month, Sanders criticized Trump’s lack of preparation for COVID-19 and said that his administration would increase funding for the Center for Disease Control and the National Institute of Health and pass Medicare for All, “So everyone can see a doctor or get a vaccine for free.” He has pointed out that some people are already being hit with massive medical bill for necessary COVID-19 testing. “Others may face massive bills for hospitalization, treatment and quarantine if they need it,” he wrote. “This must end. We need Medicare for All."

In comparison to Sanders, Joe Biden comes off as wishy-washy. When asked if he would sign a Medicare for All bill in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden hemmed and hawed, saying, “If they got that through in, by some miracle … then you got to look at the cost.” 

Talk about uninspiring. 

In the coming months, all sorts of progressive policies will be revealed as the lifesaving, public-good measures they’ve always been. The Democratic nominee should be someone who can successfully communicate that message. Sanders will excel at that task, but there’s another reason why he is an ideal candidate in these uncertain times.  

Sanders understands it’s the middle class and the working poor who will need help over the next year.  

In the movies, disasters are social levelers. Suddenly, we’re all running from zombies and we’re forming unlikely friendships with people with whom we thought we had nothing in common. But in real life, disasters tend to heighten inequalities. COVID-19 is no exception: It will impact all of us, but the brunt will likely fall on people who were already suffering. When it comes time to help our nation recover from the economic impact of COVID-19, I believe Sanders will make sure it’s our families that are bailed out first, not wealthy corporations.  

It’s go-time: Stock your pantry, socially distance yourself as much you are able and then cast a vote for a better world after this pandemic passes. Whenever the election takes place, vote for Bernie Sanders.