Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Elliot BenjaminElliot Benjamin is a philosopher, mathematician, musician, counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of over 230 published articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, art & mental disturbance, and progressive politics. He has also written a number of self-published books, such as: The Creative Artist, Mental Disturbance, and Mental Health. See also:


Sanders vs. Biden

Sanders vs. Biden et al.

From an Integrative Beating Trump Perspective

Elliot Benjamin

I must conclude that the dangers of a Sanders vs. Trump match-up in regard to an integrative beating Trump perspective is what has the most impact on me.

I'm considering a change of perspective. I still think that the scenario of Bernie Sanders as the United States Democratic candidate against Trump is fraught with dangers [1]. Now that Trump has apparently succeeded in weakening Joe Biden [2], Trump is going after Bernie Sanders, as can be seen from his viscous, divisive, and vindictive 2020 State of the Union speech in which he attacked the radical left and socialists, vowing to not let them take away people's private insurance and destroy the United States [3]. However, given the current situation we are faced with, which is a weakened Biden who came in a distant 4th place in the Iowa caucus and a distant 5th place in the New Hampshire primary, and consequently now has additional difficulties in obtaining needed finances and getting Democratic voters excited to support him [2], I must reevaluate my integrative perspective on which Democratic candidate has the best chance of beating Trump.

Once again I am utilizing a perspective that I refer to as “integrative,” which refers to “diverse contrary views for the purpose of finding common ground on one particular issue” [1]. The particular issue I am seeking common ground on is beating Trump in November, 2020 and the diverse contrary views run the gamut from Democratic progressives to moderates, and also includes Independents and moderate Republicans. I am particularly interested in getting needed support for the Democratic candidate from whom I have referred to as the middle-of-the-roaders in the battleground states [1]. In my earlier Integral World essay entitled "An “Integrative” Democratic Candidate is Needed to Beat Trump" [1], I said the following:

“To win the 2020 presidential election it is necessary to reach enough voters in a handful of battleground states. . . .

In regard to my own progressive political views I certainly relate to the progressive candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. However, I must also say that I think either of these candidates will alienate the above voters in the battleground states that are desperately needed to beat Trump. I see the picture even more bleak if we have a gay Democratic candidate, as Pete Buttigieg is currently on a surge, and I certainly don't think that billionaire centrist Democratic candidate Mike Bloomberg is going to reach these voters. . . .

My priority is to beat Trump in 2020, and I believe that if the candidate is not Biden then Trump will be able to effectively keep enough of his base and middle-of-the-roaders in the battleground states to pull off another four years. For it would be “crazy Bernie” the communist and “Pocahontas” (Trump's condescending nickname for Elizabeth Warren) taking away your health care insurance choices, destroying the American dream of success, letting immigrants come into the country to take your jobs and kill your children, etc. Trump knows very well that Biden would be a severe challenge for him and this is why I believe he has done all in his power to get rid of Biden, which is how impeachment has finally come out of the woodwork.”

Well I wrote this essay in November, 2019 and it is now February, 2020, soon after the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary. Impeachment has gone back into the woodwork after the sham Senate cover-up trial that did not even include witnesses or new incriminating documents [4], and Trump is currently celebrating a significant boost in his job approval ratings after his reality show/campaign style State of the Union speech that resulted in a wave of enthusiastic responses from Republicans, and I fear also from too many middle-of-the-roaders in battleground states [5]. The situation is certainly alarming to me, but there is also something inside of me that is stirring, which I think is related to me perhaps changing my perspective on beating Trump.

It appears increasingly likely to me that assuming he gets the Democratic nomination (which seems less and less likely—see below), Biden's lukewarm support from Democrats will be no match for the massive frenzy of Trump's supporters that now appears to quite possibly be making dangerous headway into middle-of-the-roader battleground territory [5]. And from all the current indications of the Democratic polls, it appears that the most likely Democratic candidate to beat out Biden for the Democratic nomination is Bernie Sanders [6].

When I started writing this essay I was concentrating on a match-up between Sanders and Biden from an integrative perspective of beating Trump. However, as Biden continues his negative downward spiral in the polls [6], and especially with billionaire Democratic candidate Tom Steyer's sinking enormous money into competing with Biden in South Carolina [7] and the growing popularity of billionaire Democratic candidate Mike Bloomberg, stimulated by his outpouring enormous personal finances into continuous advertisements dedicated to making him a viable presidential candidate against Trump [8], I now see the match-up as one that is between Sanders and “Biden et al.” In other words, I realize that Biden may very well eventually drop out of the race due to his lack of voter responsiveness, and I would consequently be faced with “then what?”

At the end of my previous Integral World essay [1], I made the following statement:

“If the candidate ends up being Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, I very much hope that I am wrong and that the middle-of-the-roaders in the battleground states somehow see the light and that we still beat Trump.”

As I heard more and more about Sanders being on a surge and quite possibly beating Biden out for the Democratic nomination [6], I happened to come across a February 2, 2020 article entitled "Trump Trails Leading 2020 Democrats in New Survey" [9]. To my surprise, the article described a survey that not only found Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg beating Trump nationally in a head-to-head count, but Biden and Sanders also beating Trump when the races were limited to 11 battleground states [9]. Biden was reported as beating Trump by a larger margin than Sanders beating Trump, but the fact that a survey showed Sanders beating Trump in the battleground states certainly gave me a jolt. However, not to place too much stock on this one survey, I decided to check out each one of these battleground states separately, and although what I found was less current and generally ended at the end of 2019 or in January, 2020, yes the finding that Sanders was beating Trump in almost each of these 11 battleground states was consistent with the survey in the above article. The one exception that I found was in Arizona, where it was reported that Biden was evenly matched with Trump, and that Trump was beating Sanders.

I find it especially interesting that in a more recent poll, the Democratic candidate who is ranked as beating Trump by the widest margin in a national head-to-head count is actually Mike Bloomberg, followed closely by Sanders and then Biden.

And I find it especially interesting that in a more recent poll, the Democratic candidate who is ranked as beating Trump by the widest margin in a national head-to-head count is actually Mike Bloomberg, followed closely by Sanders and then Biden [8]. In fact, the poll found that Bloomberg was a close second to Biden for being the leading candidate among Black voters, although the recent promotion of his racist 2015 Stop and Frisk comment and policies as mayor of New York City may very well make a dent in his ranking [8].

And of all the Democratic candidates, there is no one that even comes close to matching the excitement in his supporters that Bernie Sanders stimulates.

At any rate, I began thinking that perhaps—just perhaps—these middle-of-the-roaders in the battleground states could be reached by Sanders. It is widely publicized that Biden has the Black vote (though see above about Bloomberg being a close second to Biden for the Black vote [8]), and that Sanders does not do well enough with Black voters to beat Trump [10]. But it appears that Sanders is making headway with the Black vote, as he has made significant gains in closing the gap on Biden in South Carolina [7], [11]. But “perhaps” with Trump's “cultish” base of adoring supporters [12], his touting of a strong economy (regardless of how accurate this is [13]), his enormous financial campaign funds, his reality show and social media massive manipulations, and who knows how much help he will get again from Russia, etc., there needs to be a massive strong multitude of passionate Democratic voters to counter this. And of all the Democratic candidates, there is no one that even comes close to matching the excitement in his supporters that Bernie Sanders stimulates [14].

However, I still have extreme concerns about Sanders in regard to the likelihood of him beating Trump in November. Much of my concerns are encapsulated in the stimulating and informative February 5, 2020 New York Times article by Thomas B. Edsall [10]:

“Looking towards the general election in November, the RealClearPolitics average of the seven most recent national head-to-head surveys shows Sanders ahead of Trump by 3.7 points, 49.0 to 45.3. Those polls were taken before any concerted Republican efforts to demonize Sanders, which are certain to start in earnest if he becomes the nominee. . . .

Sanders stands out among the leading Democratic presidential candidates in that none of the others have accumulated as many potentially debilitating liabilities as he has over 50 active years in politics. Sanders, wrote Richard North Patterson. . . .

'is in short, the Democrats' waking nightmare: Sanders remains more likely to split the party than win its nomination. And in the unlikely event that he does, Democrats would then be tethered to the candidate of Donald Trump's most ardent dreams.'

Not only does Sanders currently take positions that would be tough to defend in the general election—a Medicare for All plan eliminating private health coverage, a ban on fracking highly unpopular in Pennsylvania, the decriminalization of illegal border crossings—but in the past he has also argued for

'nationalization of the energy industry, public ownership of banks, telephone, electric, and drug companies and of the major means of production such as factories and capital, as well as other proposals such as a 100 percent income tax on the highest income earners in America.'

Sanders positioning on the far left has been crucial to mobilizing pluralities of Democratic primary and caucus voters. But many studies show that in general elections, the nomination of more extreme candidates has alienated moderates and driven up voting for the opposition—in this case the Republican Party. . . .

Hersh, the Tufts political scientist, raised a different set of concerns about a Sanders nomination, primarily that he would mobilize conservatives:

'Democrats will turn out no matter who their nominee is because they are motivated by their opposition to Trump. Republicans would look at a moderate like Biden or Klobuchar and think the stakes are lower than if the candidate is Sanders or Warren. So they might stay home more.' “

And in an earlier New York Times article published January 31, 2020 by Timothy Egan, the case against Bernie Sanders beating Donald Trump is given in strikingly illustrative terms [15]:

“Sanders has passion going for him. He has authenticity. He certainly has consistency. . . .

But he cannot beat Donald Trump, for the same reason people do not translate their hatred of the odious rich into pitchfork brigades against walled estates.

The United States has never been a socialist country, even when it most likely should have been one, during the robber baron tyranny of the Gilded Age or the desperation of the Great Depression, and it never will be. Which isn't to say that American capitalism is working. . . .

Republicans will rip the bark off him. When they're done, you will not recognize the aging, mouth-frothing, business-destroying commie from Ben and Jerry's dystopian dairy. Demagogy is what Republicans do best. And Sanders is ripe for caricature.

I'm not worried about the Russian stuff—Bernie's self-described 'very strange honeymoon' to the totalitarian hell of the Soviet Union in 1988, and his kind words for similar regimes. Compared with a president who is a willing stooge for the Russian strongman Vladmir Putin, a little vodka-induced dancing with the red bear is peanuts.

Nor am I worried about the legitimate questions concerning the candidate's wife, Jane Sanders, who ran a Vermont college into the ground. Again, Trump's family of grifters—from Ivanka securing her patents from China while Daddy made other promises to Beijing, to Don Jr.'s using the White House to leverage the family brand—give Democrats more than enough ammunition to return the fire.

Trump bragged about sexual assault, paid off a porn star and ran a fraudulent university. He sucks up to dictators and tells a half-dozen lies before he puts his socks on in the morning. A weird column about a rape fantasy from 1972 is not going to sink Bernie when Trump has debased all public discourse.

No, what will get the Trump demagogue factory working at full throttle is the central message of the Sanders campaign: that the United States needs a political revolution. It may very well need one. But most people don't think so, as Barack Obama has argued. And getting two million new progressive votes in the usual area codes is not going to change that. . . .

Socialism, despite its flavor-of-the-month appeal to young people, is not popular with the general public. Just 39 percent of Americans view socialism positively, a bare uptick from 2010, compared with 87 percent who have a positive view of free enterprise, Gallup found last fall.

What's more, American confidence in the economy is now at the highest level in nearly two decades. That's hardly the best condition for overthrowing the system.. . . .

Democrats win with broad vision optimists who still shake up the system—Franklin Roosevelt, of course, but also Obama. The D's flipped 40 House seats in 2018 without using any of Sanders's stringent medicine. If they stick to that elixir they'll oust Trump, the goal of a majority of Americans.

Democrats lose with fire-and-brimstone fundamentalists. Three times, the party nominated William Jennings Bryan, the quirky progressive with great oratorical pipes, and three times they were trounced. Look him up, kids. Your grandchildren will do a similar search for Bernie Sanders when they wonder how Donald Trump won a second term.”

Furthermore, many of Sanders' followers are youthful and there have been a number of concerns raised about their insulting condescension to anyone who disagrees with them, as well as the willingness of some of them to not vote for any other Democratic candidate, or even to vote for Trump, as happened in 2016 [10], [16]. I had even thought of writing an essay about the “Sanders cult,” but I changed my mind after I had the thought that perhaps to counter the cult of Trump we actually need another cult.

Well the bottom line for me is that the alarms about Sanders not being able to beat Trump, as conveyed in the two above New York Times articles [10], [15], bring me back to trying to figure out if my original Biden perspective, but with the extension to “Biden et al.,” still holds water [1]. I was relieved to see Biden much stronger, more forceful, and more controlling of his verbal gaffes and word confusions in the February 7 New Hampshire debate [17]. But I am afraid that I must come to the conclusion, for the reasons that I conveyed above, that Biden's New Hampshire debate performance is unlikely to change his downward trajectory [2], [6], [7], [8]. It is my hope that Biden is able to emerge as the strong winner of South Carolina, after he at least holds his own in Nevada with a strong 2nd place finish, if not winning the race. And then that he fully comes into his own on Super Tuesday with the primaries in 14 states, that I believe will either give him his needed momentum or essentially end his campaign. I had been hoping that both billionaire Democratic candidates Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer soon drop out of the race and donate huge amounts of money to help the Democratic candidate, whoever it is, beat Trump. But the reality is that Michael Bloomberg is now on a surge in the polls, with one poll finding that he is the leading head-to-head match-up against Trump nationally [8].

The bottom line is that I am very concerned that Bernie Sanders as the Democratic candidate can backfire big time, in a similar way to how progressive candidate Jeremy Corbyn backfired against U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson [18]. However, my intention in this essay is not to “bash Bernie,” but rather to convey what I think is the most likely outcome of a Sanders vs. Trump match-up. And the picture is overwhelmingly confusing, to say the least. On one hand the concerns that I have about Bernie Sanders in the general election are enormous, but on the other hand there is the argument that the massive enthusiastic support and turnout of young voters for Bernie Sanders could be enough to turn the tables on Trump [14], [19].

“And out he came, no tie, the blue blazer, the stern face. The white hair. The crowd roared. 'Power to the People' he blared. And then Sanders said what he's been saying since the 1970s, said what he was saying 10, 20, 30 years before so many of the people at his rallies were even born, jabbing that finger to underscore the pillars of his platform—universal health care, universal child care, higher wages for workers, a redistribution of wealth, which is to say a redistribution of power—from the millionaires!--from the billionaires!--all building in his jackhammered Brooklynese to a pronouncement that would have been inconceivable 50 years ago, five years ago, maybe five months ago. Inconceivable to some even still. 'Our campaign is the campaign that can, and will, defeat Trump,' he said. 'Let us win here in New Hampshire, let us then go on to Nevada, South Carolina, California. Let us create the political revolution this country needs! Let us defeat the most dangerous president in the modern history of America!'

He pumped his fist.

The people chanted his name, 'Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!' (Kruse, 2020).

“If you believe in saving democracy, the courts and the planet, and reversing the unrepentant cruelty, corruption and carelessness that define the current administration, you have a duty to at least consider the candidacy of the most popular senator in America, the top fundraiser in the Democratic primaries, and the man who has generally beaten Trump in head-to-head polls for five years now.” (Sattler, 2020).

But when all is said and done, I must conclude that the dangers of a Sanders vs. Trump match-up in regard to an integrative beating Trump perspective is what has the most impact on me, and here are a few final excerpts from three articles that vividly illustrate this [20].

“We know that the Trump campaign will seek to label any Democratic nominee a 'socialist'—a regular Republican tactic that usually goes nowhere because Democratic nominees have never really been socialists. Sanders is different, though. As he said in a 1983 political debate: 'I am a socialist; of course I'm a socialist.' The charge would stick, because this is an identity that he himself has proudly trumpeted. And most Americans view socialism negatively, by a margin of 42-55%. That would be quite a weight around a nominee's neck in a general election. . . .

Sanders has never won anything that really matters outside of Vermont, and all the available data shows that his ideas are politically toxic. . . .

Democrats now face a monumental choice. Deciding which presidential candidate should go head to head with Donald Trump is the paramount political calculation of our lifetimes. (Bennett & Erickson, 2020)

“Some Republicans also view elements of Sanders' early biography as a vulnerability to be exploited. 'I have no doubt that Bernie's long-standing ties to socialist policies and economics would be used in a national campaign against him,' said former Republican Rep. Bob Walker. . . .

Sanders' association with the radical left is varied—over many years of political development he came to be associated with the youth section of the Socialist Party; the Trotskyist Socialist Workers' Party. . . .

In the 1970s, Sanders became involved with the Liberty Union, an anti-war political party in Vermont. In 1971, Sanders' platform involved the legalization of all drugs, while in the following year he wrote in an op-ed that Congress should 'institute public ownership, with worker control, of the major means of production.'. . . .

Sanders ran twice for governor and twice for Senate under the party's banner before ultimately leaving the party. . . .

served as the chairperson of the party for several years in the 1970s. . . .

Sanders also served as a presidential elector for the Socialist Workers' Party in 1980. (Mak, 2020).

“Sanders has a long history as not just as a man of the left but a radical, one whose ideas are so outrageous that the general electorate could not possibly support him. In support of that idea, we'll hear about how he once advocated abolishing the CIA, how he once affiliated with the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party, how he honeymooned in the Soviet Union, and how he praised Fidel Castro and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. And then there are some old ruminations on male and female sexuality that are, let's say, problematic, or at least ripe for being taken out of context. . . .

There's no doubt that Republicans would try to make the case, that Sanders is a crazy radical who would turn America into a communist hellscape where we will all have our property expropriated and be forced to stand on line in shapeless gray overcoats to get our monthly bread allotment. (Waldman, 2020).

Well summing up here, I have tried out generalizing my previous perspective that Biden is the best bet to beat Trump by changing it to “Biden et al.” All things considered, a strong and forceful Biden, as appeared on the February debate stage in New Hampshire [17], is still my first choice from an integrative perspective of beating Trump. Aside from the relative disadvantages of going up against Trump as a gay man or as a woman, and not even taking into consideration the centrist vs. progressive arguments, I don't think Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar or Elizabeth Warren has any potential to secure enough of the Black vote to make either of them the Democratic candidate. And although it initially appeared to me that Michael Bloomberg had more potential to secure the Black vote than Buttigieg, Klobuchar, or Warren, I think that the recent promotion of his 2015 racist Stop and Frisk comment and policies as mayor of New York City will likely put an abrupt end to his popularity with Black people, and consequently to the likelihood of him becoming the Democratic presidential candidate [8].

Putting all of this together, I have reduced Biden et al. back to Biden. And the logical consequence of all this for me is that if Biden continues to weaken in the primaries and Sanders continues to surge and overshadow progressive candidate Elizabeth Warren, then since no one appears to me to be a viable centrist replacement for Biden to go up against Trump, I will support Bernie Sanders as much as I possibly can, and I will hope and pray that the United States is ready for a socialist revolution.

And in closing, in spite of all the extreme concerns that I have conveyed in this essay about a Sanders vs. Trump match-up from an integrative beating Trump perspective, the truth, as Paul Waldman concludes, is that “no one really knows” [20].

“So will voters reject this crazy leftist, or will he manage to hold Democrats while pulling over just enough moderates and Republicans to bring the party he still refuses to join on to victory? Here's the truth: We have no idea. We don't know how any of this will factor in a general election. There hasn't been a nominee like Sanders in modern history, nor has there been a president like Trump for a nominee like Sanders to run against. Polarization is more intense than ever, and that adds another factor that complicates our ability to make accurate predictions. We all have our suspicions, and we can tell a story any way we like that sounds plausible. But anyone who tells you they're sure what would happen is fooling themselves.”

Notes and References

[1] See Elliot Benjamin (2019), "An “Integrative” Democratic Candidate is Needed to Beat Trump",

[2] See US Election (2020), "Biden Vows to Press on Despite Iowa “Gut Punch.”,; See also Eric Bradner (2020), "Joe Biden's New Reality: What Happens When a Candidate Who Guarantees Wins Starts by Losing?",; and Jacqui Heinrich (2020), "New Hampshire Gives Klobuchar Major Boost, Puts Biden and Warren on 2020 Life Support."

[3] See CNN Opinion (2020), "What Trump's Reality Show Speech Revealed",

[4] For an uplifting and informative perspective on the sham Senate trial and other related matters, see GoodNewsRoundup (2020), "We Have Nothing to Fear but Despair and Surrender. Buckle-up Buttercup, We Gonna Win: Saturday's GNR",

[5] See Jeffrey M. Jones (2020), "Trump Job Approval at Personal Best 49%",; however, see also Jacob Long (2020), "Has Trump's Approval Rating Really Shot Up to 40 Percent? Probably Not",

[6] See Jasmine C. Lee, Annie Daniel, Rebecca Lieberman, Blacki Migliozzi, Alexander Burns, and Sarah Almukhtar (2020), "Which Democrats Are Leading the 2020 Presidential Race?", and see Grace Sparks (2020), "Sanders Leads National Primary Race, New Poll Shows",

[7] See Maya King (2020), "With an Avalanche of Cash, Steyer Surges in South Carolina",; and Justin Wise (2020), "Poll: Biden's Lead Shrinks to 5 Points in South Carolina",

[8] See dailynooze (2020), "The Case for Michael R. Bloomberg—Opinion",; see also Edward-Isaac Dovere (2020), "Democrats are Freaking Out about Mike Bloomberg",; and wtpvideo (2020), "The Most Shocking Number in the Latest Q-Poll",; finally, see Bobby Allyn, "'Throw Them Against the Wall and Frisk Them': Bloomberg's 2015 Race Talk Stirs Debate",

[9] See Justine Coleman (2020, "Trump Trails Leading 2020 Democrats in New Survey",

[10] See Thomas B. Edsall (2020), "If Bernie Wins, Where Will He Take the Democratic Party?",

[11] See Philip Klein (2020), "New South Carolina Poll is a Disaster for Joe Biden",

[12] See Elliot Benjamin (2018), "The Cult of Trumpism",

[13] See Steven Rattner (2020), "The Economy is Not as Good as It Looks",; see also voidstuff (2020), "The Trump Recession. It's Already Happening",; and annieli (2020), "US Manufacturing Now Officially in Recession Thanks to Trump",

[14] See Ryan in FL (2020), "If You Think Bernie Sanders is Too Extreme, or Has Crazy Supporters, Understand This",; see also Michael Kruse (2020), "Is It Bernie's Party Now?",

[15] See Timothy Egan (2020), "Bernie Sanders Can't Win",

[16] See Ryan in Fl (2020). "Bernie Sanders Supporters are kind of hard to demotivate",; see also Black Max (2020, "Here's How Bernie Could Shut Me down in My Criticism of Him and His Supporters. Seriously!".

[17] See Francis Aure (2020), "Biden Rises from Iowa's Ashes with Fiery New Hampshire Tour de Force",; see also Mark Z. Barabak & Janet Hook (2020, "5 Takeways from the Democratic Presidential Debate in New Hampshire",; and see Todd Graham (2020), "Debate Coach: Buttigieg's Missed Opportunity", It is noteworthy that Todd Graham has been recognized three times as the national debate coach of the year, and gave Biden an A- and Buttigieg a C+ for this debate.

[18] See William Booth, Karla Adam, and James McAuley (2019), "U.K. Election: Boris Johnson Wins Majority, While Jeremy Corbyn Says He Won't Lead another General Election Campaign",

[19] See Jason Sattler (2020), "Moderate Democrats Have a Duty to Consider Sanders. He Has a Clear Path to Beating Trump",

[20] See Matt Bennett and Lanae Erickson (2020, "Democrats Court Doom by Backing Bernie Sanders. His Ideas Are Toxic Outside Blue America",; see also Tim Mak (2020), "Bernie's Past With the Far Far Far Left",; and see Paul Waldman (2020), "Sanders Might Actually Be the Democratic Nominee. Nobody Knows If He's Electable",

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