Senator Bernie Sanders supporters are truly idealists! No one can deny that Sanders has inspired a movement, a new generation of the young and old, igniting a progressive movement that former President Bill Clinton almost thought dead when he famously proclaimed: "The era of Big Government is over." Sanders has genuinely motivated a coalition believing in universal healthcare, tuition free education, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, the breaking up of the Big Banks, and protesting the income disparities that are making America look like some South American junta of the 1970's. These are all laudable goals and undoubtedly would make America a more egalitarian place where upward mobility is again more than just nostalgia.
Sanders has done the almost unthinkable. A little known senator from a small state with about the same population as Washington, D. C. has captured the imagination of a generation of young people winning twenty-two states in the process and coming close to toppling the Clinton machine. However, he has fallen short and may sully his achievement by continuing to run a failed campaign as opposed to endorsing Hillary and gracefully stepping aside. Of course, he would still have enormous influence within Democratic ranks in the future with his invaluable database of small donors and supporters. Surely, the Democratic establishment must now realize that their base does not want a Republican-lite party, but one that professes truly progressive goals and policies. This realization alone is no small achievement of the Sanders campaign.
Even in defeat, Senator Sanders can push the Democratic platform to the left acting as the conscious of the party, alongside Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Both have rallied against the excesses of the big banks, the corrupting influence of corporate giving, and are a resounding voice for the little man who goes unseen, unheard. Both have shown no unwillingness to take on the grandiosity of Donald Trump and his quest for strongman rule. Sanders followers should recognize the power and influence within their grasp if they speak with a unified voice to elect Hillary with a real possibility of tilting the Senate and House in the Democrat's favor. With each seat they win, the Sander's progressive agenda comes closer and closer to fruition.
Sanders followers are puzzling though. At a recent rally, (and it likely speaks true of Sanders supporters at large), many voiced a reluctance to vote for Hillary with several going so far as to say they would cast their vote for Trump. How one can so easily migrate from the idealism of the everyman Sanders to the cynical opportunism and self-aggrandizement of Trump is truly inexplicable!
According to Samantha Lachman writing in the Huffington Post about the rally in the nation's capital:
"The Huffington Post had a difficult time finding supporters in the crowd who would admit they were ready to vote for Clinton, the party's presumptive nominee, in November."
"Hillary Clinton needs to win our votes, which means adopting some of Bernie's platform," said Keith Melchers, a 57-year-old D.C. resident, mentioning Sanders' proposal for free public university tuition. "She's got to take on some of his agenda ... I'm going to hold out to see what she does. I'm open, but it can't be just, 'Hey you've got to automatically support me.' She has to come a little bit our way on our platform."
Susan Shufelt, a 69-year-old from Maryland, said she doesn't think she could vote for Clinton.
"I would feel terrible if [Sanders] just endorsed Hillary and that was it," Shufelt said. "I want him to do something that will help get money out of politics and help reduce income inequality, the things he talked about during the campaign. I'm not hopeful because Hillary is so connected to money, her husband has his foundation, I don't see any hope with her. ... But I promised my friends I will keep an open mind, those who are a little less rigid than me."
"And many said they weren't ready to even consider the possibility of voting for Clinton in the fall. They made noises of frustration at the question and characterized support for Clinton as "giving in.""
An aphorism springs to mind: "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Surely, these Sanders supporters can not brook the racism of Donald Trump who has criticized a respected federal judge for his ethnicity making statements that even Republican Paul Ryan said were the "textbook definition of racism."
Surely, they can not brook Trump's statement saying that America can "negotiate" its national debt when our debt is backed by the full faith and credit of the federal government and a default would throw the whole world financial system into chaos.
Surely, these supporters can not brook the idea of exploding a nuclear device in Europe something that Trump said he "would not take off the table" or the fantastical idea of building a wall to keep out illegal immigrants which Mexico would somehow pay for.
Surely, Trump's affinity for strongman rule seen in his lavish praise of Putin and his giving credit to North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Il for how he was able to dispatch his political opponents burns at the democratic principles of Sander's supporters.
Surely, they must realize how dangerous Trump is? Or do they?
Are Sanders supports so naive as to believe a world without Bernie is the same as an America thrown into chaos and feared by the world because of the unpredictability, the petty grudges, the policy vacuity of a Donald Trump? It is hard to believe, but just may be the case. Well, let's hope not. For our sake and that of the country!