Back in the heady days of late 2015, it looked like Bernie Sanders might have a shot at the presidency. He was idealistic, a champion of the working class and, most notably, attracted crowds of young people. As time wore on, though, his momentum slowed like so many popular campaigns before. The death knell of his run came last month when major news outlets reported that Clinton had reached the number of delegates necessary to clinch the nomination on the eve of the California primary.
Trailing in popular votes, delegates and pledged super delegates, Sanders now has effectively zero chance at becoming the Democratic nominee this year. In a perfect world, the newly-energized population of liberals in this country would rally behind Clinton and claim the presidency. Instead, in a move that could be detrimental to Clinton’s chances, Bernie’s most bitter supporters had another idea: #IWillNeverStandWithHer, a hashtag determined to tear down the presumptive Democratic nominee’s chances at winning.
I’m not upset about conservatives using the hashtag on social media, but the appropriation of #IWillNeverStandWithHer by liberal Bernie supporters is worrisome, to say the least. What, in their minds, is the endgame of this movement? Is it to weaken Hillary in the general election? Is it to convince a majority of Democrats to suddenly abandon the most popular candidate?
The movement is based in understandable disappointment in Sanders’ failure to move to the general election. It’s always tough to watch this happen to a favorite candidate; Hillary’s supporters felt this way the last time she ran for president in 2008. This is more than just run-of-the-mill mourning, though. Instead of falling into rank and putting their party’s agenda first, the worst Sanders supporters have decided to focus on tearing Clinton apart on social media.
Policy differences aside, there is one reason that this resentment needs to end. Any ideas what it is?
You guessed it: Donald Trump. Despite a considerable amount of overlap between the two camps (as much as 20 percent of Sanders supporters might vote Trump in the general election), the all-but-defeated contender for the Democratic nomination has been vocal about his distrust of a Trump presidency. When your favorite candidate says another is, “In a dozen different ways...literally unfit to be president,” why would you turn around and help him? Undermining the candidate who can beat Trump in the general election is in diametric opposition to Bernie’s wishes, and that candidate happens to be Hillary Clinton. While some may tout third-party candidates instead of Clinton, the chance of one actually eclipsing both major candidates is nil. Liberals need to unite behind the best chance we have at the White House.
If Sanders couldn’t win, he at least started to change something. I, and millions of other Clinton supporters, hope that we can work towards a future that Sanders envisioned. Like it or not, Clinton has a platform centered on reform (and an impressive tenure as Secretary of State) that will accomplish just as much, or more, than Sanders could.
Attempting to smear Hillary is, at this point, subverting the wishes of the now-defunct Sanders campaign. If his supporters can’t bring themselves to back the next best thing, were they actually his supporters in the first place? If you cared about Bernie’s message and about implementing the changes that he proposed, you need to at least vote for Clinton instead of actively complaining about her. Only one of the two presumptive general election candidates will advance Bernie’s agenda, and the people behind #IWillNeverStandWithHer are aggressively choosing the wrong one.
Lead Image Credit: Comedy Central