Bernie Sanders Will Meet With Hillary Clinton, But He Could Still Hold On Until The Convention
Through every disappointing loss Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has been met with recently, from losing much-needed primaries to watching crucial figures endorse frontrunner Hillary Clinton, he has maintained his promise to take his campaign to the convention in July. While Sanders supporters have taken comfort in the idea of him blessing the party’s official platform at the convention with his famously progressive touch, Sanders’ Tuesday meeting with Clinton suggests his campaign could potentially be wrapping things up earlier than expected.
On Sunday, Sanders told Chuck Todd of NBC’s Meet the Press, “I will be meeting with Secretary Clinton on Tuesday evening, I believe. And we will be chatting about her campaign.” Repeating the sweeping, democratic socialist reforms he has been passionately pushing for throughout this past year, Sanders continued: “I simply want to get a sense of what kind of platform she will be supporting, whether she will be vigorous in standing up for working families in the middle class, moving aggressively in climate change, healthcare for all, making public colleges and universities tuition-free.”
Only when Sanders gets the sense that Clinton is truly a dedicated progressive will he even begin to consider endorsing her: “After we can determine whether or not we are going to have a strong and progressive platform, I will be able to make other decisions,” he said. However, his ultimate goal is to “make sure that [Trump] is not elected President of the United States,” and regardless of one’s feelings about a Clinton presidency, supporting her might be the only means to achieve this goal.
So, all in all, Sanders hasn’t exactly conceded to or even endorsed Clinton. But when we compare his current rhetoric about evaluating and coming to terms with Clinton and doing whatever it takes to dodge a Trump presidency to his previous language, which emphasized a contested convention and political revolution, it’s clear he’s already conceded in everything but words.
Naturally, this must all be pretty disappointing to Sanders supporters who have not only actively supported his platform but also its symbolism in the fight against “lesser of two evil” politics in general, as their fearless leader officially joins the #NotTrump hype, which is literally “lesser of two evil” politics in its purest form. But the simple truth is that Sanders isn’t going to be the nominee, and as shitty as the two-party system is, Sanders knows all that he would be putting at stake by overtly challenging it with an Independent run this election season.
Sure, Jill Stein and Gary Johnson would have fair chances in an ideal, alternate universe, but this is reality and let’s take a moment to think of all the marginalized groups a Trump presidency would disproportionately harm. It takes blinding privilege to not recognize the price — and the groups who would be paying it — to merely make a political statement this election.
Still, ultimately, it’s disappointing to see progressive leaders so quick to overlook Clinton’s many, many downfalls in endorsing her. First and foremost, there’s the the general shadiness of her accepting funding from private prisons, the fossil fuel industry, and big banks, supporting the death penalty, consistently supporting an interventionist foreign policy, and literally opposing movements to raise the minimum wage in Haiti to $5 a day. But even when we overlook this treasure trove of disappointing aspects of her record, the fact remains that she continues to write off major progressive goals and programs enjoyed by most industrialized nations around the world like universal health care and tuition-free public college as unrealistic.
It might be true that America and our Republican Congress aren’t quite ready for these reforms, at least without a whole lot of compromise, but frankly, when you ask for more, you get more. It’s disappointing that Clinton isn’t even willing to try to fight for these programs which would disproportionately benefit poor communities of color before dismissing them altogether.
Granted, President Obama and Massachusetts Senator/progressive icon Elizabeth Warren’s endorsements of Clinton come at a time when it’s so obvious who will be the Democratic nominee that they’re pretty much endorsing Clinton relative to Trump rather than choosing her over Sanders. If this is disappointing to you, here’s a friendly reminder that Trump still isn’t quite sure Obama was born in the United States and wants to see a full on ban on Muslim immigration. Sanders supporters can hardly hold this decision against them, especially given Obama and Warren’s many nods of respect to Sanders’ campaign and acknowledgement of its powerful effect on youths across the nation and its role in raising awareness about economic inequity.
Let’s not forget that for all the criticism Sanders has received primarily from Democratic leaders, and usually for bullshit reasons like his pointing out Clinton’s shortcomings or fighting on against all odds, that frankly he’s an amazing guy. He’s been dedicated to racial equality for decades, passionately advocated for reproductive rights and LGBT rights literally since the time when print newspapers were all the rage, and is as pro-labor as it gets. He’s literally penned op-eds about letting young women be as promiscuous as they want, thanked a mother for breastfeeding her baby at one of his rallies, and rushed off the stage to the aide of an audience member who fainted. Sure, it might be frustrating to Democratic elites that he’s taking so long to just step down and give up already, but he doesn’t deserve to be portrayed as the bad guy for standing by his values.
No matter what Sanders decides to do going forward, whether it’s conceding tomorrow or at the convention in July, he has my full respect. He’s mobilized and inspired an entire generation of rightfully disillusioned Americans, and not only challenged a norm of money owning politics, from influencing elections to policies, but probably changed it forever with his grassroots approach to campaign finance. Further, he essentially created the current, wildly active dialogue around government funding for basic public services like education and health care, and I have little doubt the fight for these human rights will rage on long after the Democratic race is officially over.
And, of course, there’s the fact that Sanders appointed some pretty amazing individuals to the committee to draft the Democratic party’s official platform — the founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI) and passionate Palestinian rights activist, the co-chair of the progressive caucus and one of two Muslims in Congress, vice chair of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington state and a Native American rights activist, an environmentalist who’s been writing about global warming long before it reached the mainstream, and, of course, his good friend civil rights activist Cornel West. Whether or not Sanders is present at the convention, I’d trust them with the platform (frankly, I’d trust them with my life.)