It finally happened: On Tuesday, Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton, ending many weeks of anger and division among progressives, liberals, and the Democratic party. We can finally come together to fight our common enemy—but will we?
Some of the first grumblings on social media read, "It's about time" and "What took him so long?" It’s a good question; for months, we've endured Hillary-hatred not only from conservative Trump-loving fans, but also from some Sanders supporters who called her manipulative, and accused her of being in Wall Street's pocket. It’s been a difficult primary season and many of us have found ourselves disagreeing with our closest friends, people who have always been our political allies until Sanders versus Clinton.
Together, let’s go win this election. pic.twitter.com/lRSwpk9y4b— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 12, 2016
But we need to buckle up, because the ugly parts behind us look nothing like the ugliness ahead. As Sanders said in his official speech:
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, as we head into November, Hillary Clinton is far and away the best candidate to do that.
He means it. Because when the choice is between Trump and Clinton, she is obviously the better choice to further his agenda. Sanders' support is already helping to push Clinton farther left; she recently announced her plans to provide tuition-free college in a nod to one of Sanders' most popular platforms.
And while her plan isn't as sweeping or all-encompassing as the one Sanders advocated for, it's certainly a far cry from the Republicans' lack of similar proposals. That's what some Sanders supporters have always missed when it comes to Clinton: She's been quietly progressive, but progressive all the same.
Maybe now that she and Sanders have joined forces, they can bring bigger issues into focus—especially the Black Lives Matter movement. Clinton called for criminal justice reform in her speech, indicating that police brutality is on her mind as she moves forward. “These tragedies tear at our soul and so do the incidents that don’t even dominate the headlines,” Clinton said. “Weapons of war have no place on the streets of America.”
That's what some Sanders supporters have always missed when it comes to Clinton: She's been quietly progressive, but progressive all the same.
Sanders himself called Clinton’s platform “by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party." (See, it’s not all bad!)
What will happen between them remains to be seen (Will Sanders join Clinton's ticket as her VP?), but the message is clear: They are closer in ideology than Trump will ever be. And though the billionaire hoped to woo disenfranchised Sanders supporters wary of America's political system, Trump will be hard-pressed to do so when Sanders has made it clear that he supports Clinton.
The questions now become these: Can Clinton supporters who feel burned by Sanders' refusal to quit accept his help? And can Sanders supporters who are grieving the loss of such a populist movement come to terms with the more pragmatic, calculating Clinton?
All signs point to yes.
This isn’t even close to the most contentious primary in years. Clinton and Obama fought each other fiercely up until the bitter end during the 2008 primaries. And while Hillary dropped out earlier, it was just as ugly and embittering for her supporters at the time—but they still managed to get on board with Obama when the John McCain/Sarah Palin ticket made it clear just how wackadoo the GOP party was willing to go. Clinton became so supportive of Obama that she became his Secretary of State despite their contentious primary battle.
When mom and dad get back together for the sake of the kids. pic.twitter.com/RiaXF5ssVQ— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) July 12, 2016
Some have commented on the lack of chemistry between Sanders and Clinton on stage during today’s endorsement—and it’s true, the two don’t look like they'll be exchanging BFF necklaces any time soon. But they are working together. They have a common cause. She is compromising and listening to the voices in his campaign, and he is conceding that she has won the nomination and must become our next president.
Today is a disappointing day for Sanders and his supporters, and "chemistry" might be too much to ask. But let's keep hoping. Campaigns evolve, and people forgive. The road to November's election is long and sure to be paved with barbed-wire care of Trump's no-holds-barred approach to debating. As bad as we thought the primaries were, we ain't seen nothin' yet.