Earlier today, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders joined former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on a stage in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and announced a truce to their bitter rivalry in order to take down a common enemy: Donald Trump. Sanders finally did the inevitable and endorsed Clinton in a conserved, unenthusiastic speech, explaining that
This campaign is not really about Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders, or any other candidate who sought the presidency. This campaign is about the needs of the American people and addressing the very serious crises that we face and there is no doubt in my mind that in November, Hillary Clinton is far and away the best candidate to do that.
The announcement came to the dismay of Sanders’ supporters, myself included, many of who felt betrayed by the news. After all, Hillary Clinton seems to be the very antithesis of everything that the Sanders campaign stands for– that is to say, she is a dishonest, lying, untrustworthy corporate sell-out. How could Sanders possibly endorse Clinton and effectively end the political revolution we have worked so hard for? How could Bernie sell out and turn his back on his loyal supporters?
Though his campaign is essentially over, Bernie Sanders’ effort was not entirely in vain. He has considerably influence both the Democratic Party’s and Hillary Clinton’s platform and stances on issues, arguably shaping the “most progressive” party platform in its history. Hillary Clinton has adopted education and healthcare reforms that mirror Sanders’ own, including a plan to provide free public education for students whose parents make less than $125,000. According to Heather Gautney of The Nation, Sanders managed to get the Democratic Party to adopt a “$15 minimum wage and a pathway to marijuana legalization” as well as “improvements in Social Security and reference to full employment” and “financial reforms that would revive Glass-Steagall and institute a financial-transactions tax”. Sanders also shaped a more progressive foreign policy that emphasizes diplomacy over the reckless warmongering” of Trump and his like. Democrats, however, would not budge to denounce the Trans-Pacific Partnership like Sanders believes they should. Elijah Cummings stood firm on this issue, stating that they don’t want to “embarrass the president”, who championed the free trade agreement.
I am still coming to terms with Sanders announcement. As many of you may already know, I detest Hillary Clinton and believe she is maliciously reckless and unfit to be the leader of our country in such troubling times. However, I loathe Donald Trump and his asinine policies even more so. Trump has called my countrymen rapists, drug dealers, and criminals and would kick my family and anyone like us out of this country in the blink of an eye. Trump has insulted nearly every minority group within the United States far beyond the boundaries of regular human decency. Trump is quite literally everything that is wrong with American society magnified and embodied into an orange troll with stubby baby fingers. It is down right shameful that the American people have let Donald Trump come as far as he has instead of standing up to his hateful and divisive vitriol. Needless to say, my list of grievances against this down-right evil man is long and growing every time he opens his mouth to spew more hatred.
As much as it pains me to say so, I understand and sympathize with Sanders’ decision to endorse Clinton. From the very start, Sanders was aware that the deck was stacked against him and that he would probably not win. Regardless, Sanders wanted to make a profound impact on the Democratic Party nonetheless and hopefully save it from the clutches of center-left corporatism. Sanders fought the good fight and truly transformed the political landscape by showing what a so-called fringe candidate and self-proclaimed democratic socialist can do with the help of millions of fed-up Americans. He has undoubtedly electrified the electorate, especially young millennial voters who have never voted before and has awoken many Americans to the horrible problems that plague American society and politics. Sanders won 3 million votes and 23 states across the country giving and gave Clinton a run for her money when previously she had expected to win the nomination more or less unopposed. By doing so, Sanders has proven that there is strength in numbers and that the yearn and need for progressive change is clearly there. Sanders has empowered voters throughout our country to demand that their government listen to their needs and concerns rather than be beholden to multi-national corporations and the obscenely rich.
Sanders supporters, do not lament! Our movement has come a tremendous way– from polling in the low single digits at the beginning of 2015, to being neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton only a few months ago. We cannot simply let the fervor and energy of the campaign go to waste. We must continue pushing forward to ensure that we not only prevent the reins of this country from falling into the hands of Donald Trump, but that we also elect progressive politicians on the state and local level that share Bernie’s vision for a better tomorrow. True change comes from the grassroots and does not trickle down from the top. As Bernie said at the joint event with Hillary Clinton, this election is far greater than any individual candidate. This election is about the soul of American society. Though we might not have got the candidate our country so desperately needed, we have established the basis for future progressive movements. However, this can’t happen if we allow our country to descend into a dystopian anarcho-capitalist wasteland under Donald Trump.