Thankfully, the Democratic party is moving towards some semblance of unity after Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton for president today. It was a great moment to see the two candidates on stage together expressing what appeared to be genuine admiration for one another.
However, some Clinton supporters are still angry at Sanders for not quitting the race sooner, and taking his time to endorse her thereafter. I believe that much of the criticism leveled at Sanders is not only unfair, but tactically ignorant too.
Firstly, Sanders fought tooth and nail to beat Hillary Clinton in a contest that pitted a genuine political outsider with an establishment Democrat. Whether or not you supported Sanders, his criticisms of mainstream Democrats was not without warrant. Democrats have wandered ever rightwards over the past 40 years, and Sanders represented a real break with politicians that would be regarded as conservative in any other industrialized democracy. Yes, Clinton is a million times better than any of the clowns on the other side of the aisle, but she is still a corporate Democrat with extensive ties to the financial industry and insurance companies. However fanciful it was, Sanders was attempting to put a stop to the incestuous relationship corporations have with political elites, and his loss was a blow to everyone sick and tired of the same corrupt game being played over and over again.
For Sanders to take some time out after losing to Clinton is entirely understandable given he had very serious policy disagreements with her and has spent his entire career fighting for what he believes to be in the best interests of the country.
Secondly, from Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party’s point of view, it made an enormous amount of sense for Bernie to hold out on endorsing Clinton. Why? Because Sanders fanatical supporters needed a period of time to get used to the fact that not only did their candidate lose, but if they were serious about anything he stood for, they would have to suck it up and vote for Clinton in order to stop Donald Trump getting in.
While ardent Bernie Sanders fans turned the Democratic primary into an unnecessarily contentious affair with some truly despicable behavior, the reality is that Clinton needs Sanders’ supporters in the general election. Given she could never win them over on her own, it would inevitably come down to Sanders to lay the groundwork for a truce. Knowing his supporters well, Sanders decided to wait until the anger had simmered down before coming out publicly for Clinton. It was simply smart politics, not sour grapes as many Clinton supporters seem to believe.
Bernie Sanders was always going to endorse Hillary Clinton for president and work with her to take down Donald Trump. Despite the narrative many on the Clinton side have chosen to buy into in recent months, Sanders is a very decent man who has dedicated himself to fighting for the most vulnerable in American society. He knows full well that Clinton will fight relentlessly against Republican intransigence and would be infinitely better than any conservative in the GOP, let alone Donald Trump.
Sanders’ supporters were already moving towards Clinton in the wake of his defeat, and now thanks to his well timed endorsement we can expect them to join the battle against Trump faster than ever.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.