Bernie Sanders has ended his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, which is a tragedy, because he was right about virtually everything. He was right from the very beginning, when he advocated a total overhaul of the American health care system in the 1970s. He remains right now, as a pandemic stresses the meager resources of millions of citizens to their breaking point, and possibly to their death. He was right when he seemed to be the only alarmist in a political climate of complacency. He is right now that he’s the only politician unsurprised to see drug companies profiteering from a lethal plague with Congress’s help. In politics, as in life, being right isn’t necessarily rewarded. But at least there’s some dignity in it.
In fact, both of Mr. Sanders’s presidential campaigns, beginning with his announcement in 2015 and ending here, were about dignity. Not only broad human dignity — Mr. Sanders’s relentless focus on the grim lives of the American poor, sick and disenfranchised is perhaps the greatest paean to the notion in modern political memory — but also the daily, personal sort we grant one another each time we tell the truth. Mr. Sanders is not and has never been a liar. His remarkable consistency over time, his notorious bluntness and his open disdain for sycophantic politics are all simply manifestations of that one critical fact. It made him an awkward fit for Washington, and it built him a movement.