Time for the rest of us Democrats to follow Bernie Sanders' lead and get behind Hillary Clinton

I can support Clinton because I believe in the transformation and the reformation of politics, not the stubbornness of politics. And above all? I believe we have a bigger enemy

Lauren Puckett
Wednesday 13 July 2016 14:31 BST
Bernie Sanders has backed Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee
Bernie Sanders has backed Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee (Getty Images)

It finally happened - Bernie Sanders officially endorsed Hillary Clinton in the wild sprint for US president. The announcement happened during a joint rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, during which Sanders declared to the crowd, “I have come here to make it as clear as possible why I am endorsing Hillary Clinton and why she must become our next president.”

I’ve been biting my lip waiting for this moment to happen, hoping and praying Sanders would have the courage to make this endorsement. And, yes, you read that right - the courage. I have no doubt Sanders will take heat for cowering away from his beliefs, scurrying beneath the higher-ups and succumbing to the ever-mounting pressure of Clinton’s campaign. But I present a different perspective: that this is the most courageous thing Sanders has done since his campaign momentum slowed to a crawl.

Bernie Sanders endorses Hillary Clinton

Sanders is no Clinton groupie - and neither am I. Like many Democrats, I believed in his message of hope: I applauded his push for immigration reform, his unbridled attack on selfish big business, his support of diversity movements and women’s rights, his plans for affordable (if not completely free) education and his unique perspective on healthcare. I voted for him because I believed in him, in how he could grow, in what he could do. I didn’t trust Clinton, who’s wiggled back-and-forth on key issues for decades.

But, finally, Sanders failed - and I’m sad to admit I halfway expected him to fail. I knew Clinton had the expertise. Clinton had the political stake. Clinton had the power. And now, Clinton has the support of Sanders.

So how can I possibly think such a thing courageous? How can I support a candidate I don’t completely trust, a candidate I actively voted against?

I can support Clinton because I believe in unity. I believe in the transformation of politics and the reformation of politics, not the stubbornness of politics. And above all? I believe we have a bigger enemy.

It can be easy to say the threat of Donald Trump is overstated. It just seems too hyped-up, doesn’t it? But I’m afraid it’s not. Donald Trump is every bit the danger he seems. I may not harbour unconditional love for Clinton, but if I’m suspicious of some of her policies, my distrust for Donald Trump is a hundred times the greater.

The role of US president is not something we should take lightly. It’s one of the most powerful positions in the world. I shudder to think what kind of hatred Trump would encourage if he took over that role - and how easily he could do it, considering the influence of Washington.

Unity is what America needs. Love is what America needs. I know how that sounds like a 60s flower child mantra, but I believe it to be true. Sanders having the courage to step forward and announce his support of Clinton, even with his supporters chastising him for doing so, is a good thing. It means a Democratic party that will hopefully be united come election time (a recent Pew poll found 85 per cent of Sanders supporters say they will vote for Clinton in November). This means the liberals will not be squabbling between each other, but will be ready to fight the bigger injustices.

It’s a shame that Sanders’ campaign has ended, and I am sad to see it go. But he spent weeks debating and negotiating with Hillary Clinton, and there is no doubt his policy has had a significant impact on her own. Sanders has pushed Clinton to be braver, to be more transparent, to be more voracious in her fight for change. Already some of her drafted policies have shifted to reflect Sanders’ initiatives, including proposals to raise the minimum wage and get rid of the death penalty. This is a huge success.

Just like everyone else, I wish American politics looked different. I wish we had candidates with whom we could fully trust. I wish Clinton wasn’t the only barrier against Donald Trump as president. But this is where we are now, and we must choose to accept it.

Bernie Sanders has chosen unity. The rest of America must do the same.

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