Sanders' supporters need to let it go

  • Wednesday July 27, 2016
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A Bernie Sanders supporter applauds at the Democratic<br>National Convention. Photo: Michael Key/Washington Blade
A Bernie Sanders supporter applauds at the Democratic
National Convention. Photo: Michael Key/Washington Blade

Supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders, who ran an energetic, important campaign for the presidency, now need to get on board with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The booing of party officials at this week's Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia " including, at times, Sanders himself " was off-message and did nothing to foster party unity at a time when the country faces the very real possibility of Republican Donald Trump winning in November. Even Sanders converted to an ardent Clinton supporter after his own wild primary campaign in which he repeatedly boasted he was trying to start a "political revolution." Comedian Sarah Silverman, a former Sanders supporter who's now voting for Clinton, said it best from the podium Monday night in response to hecklers while speaking with Minnesota Senator Al Franken: "Can I just say to the Bernie-or-Bust people, you are being ridiculous."

Like Sanders supporters, we too were angered by the hacked Democratic National Committee emails showing internal communications between staffers attempting to discredit Sanders. Moreover, it was disturbing to learn that many experts agree that the DNC hacks were done by Russia, casting an eerie pall over the whole convention. It's alarming that a foreign power allegedly attempted to insert itself in U.S. presidential politics, coincidentally, just as Trump set to receive a national security briefing. The DNC's failures, however, do not disqualify Clinton's nomination.

The fact is, Clinton won more votes during the primary process, and on Tuesday, she was formally nominated. But the diehard Sanders supporters won't accept that, and think that by disrupting the convention they can alter the outcome. Unfortunately, that change might not be what they envisioned if Trump is victorious. Not only do they risk alienating fellow Democrats, they also lose credibility, as Sanders himself said this week. They are also playing right into the hands of Trump and the Republican Party, which will certainly exploit any weakness " real or perceived " during the fall campaign. Republicans are eager to put their own troublesome convention behind them, and what better tactic than by showcasing the Democrats in disarray?

While the Bernie-or-Bust folks will not be swayed, it's likely that most Sanders supporters will vote for Clinton in November. Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts each made forceful cases against Trump " and for Clinton " during their primetime convention speeches this week. Warren pointed out Trump has skipped out on debts and "only cares for himself every minute of every day." Warren said, "Our choice is Hillary Clinton and I'm with Hillary."

Sanders had the more difficult task Monday night, as he worked to mollify his supporters who greeted him with prolonged cheers. He rightly said that he understands that many of his supporters are disappointed with the final stages of the nominating process. He also told them that they should be proud of the "historical accomplishment we have achieved," referring to his progressive campaign that championed the working class and raised some $8 million in individual campaign contributions, and garnered 13 million votes during the primaries. He pledged to continue the political revolution he started.

But Sanders was also unsparing in his remarks that Clinton is the nominee and that his supporters should vote for her. "Based on her ideas and leadership, Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States," he said.

The convention ends Thursday, when Clinton, in her acceptance speech, has an opportunity to win over skeptical voters, many of whom view her with suspicion. Clinton has been in public life for 25 years. She has listened to and worked with people from all over the country while serving in her roles as first lady of Arkansas, first lady of the U.S., senator from New York, unsuccessful presidential candidate, secretary of state, and now, the historic Democratic nominee. She has evolved on many issues, including those that affect the LGBT community, like marriage. Clinton will fight for us, our children, and the country. Trump won't do any of that for us as he prefers to sow division, spew racist rhetoric, and ad lib our nation's foreign policy.

It's time for Sanders supporters to let it go and work hard to defeat Trump by redirecting their energy to ensure Clinton's victory.