In mid-July, Republican National Convention viewers watched anti-Trump Republicans shout for a roll call vote, Cruz refuse to specifically endorse Trump and volatile speeches laced with violence. The Democratic Convention—held in the city our nation was founded, Philadelphia, PA—expected a more unified vision: ready, willing and able to defeat the surprise Republican nominee in November.
However, the expectation could not be further from reality. In a surprising turn of events in arguably the most unconventional election, the biggest threat to Hillary Clinton isn’t Donald Trump—it’s Bernie Sanders. Or more accurately, his unrelenting supporters.
In the hours leading up to the start of the DNC, Democratic Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz came under fire as hundreds of emails leaked to the public—another email scandal in the campaign. The emails indicated that the Democratic leadership had attempted to pinpoint flaws and weaknesses in Bernie Sanders’ campaign—a clear bias towards Hillary Clinton from leaders who are meant to remain unbiased.
Schultz resigned before the DNC began, revealing the first crack in the party that was supposed to be united. Bernie Sanders, who recognized defeat when Clinton accrued the necessary number of delegates, had been continuing speeches and planned to attend the DNC. However, there was a general agreement and acknowledgement that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee for president.
The agreement and acknowledgement was now questioned as indications that Democratic leadership played a role in skewing the election towards a favored candidate—Clinton, who more accurately represents the Democratic platform. The situation adds more fuel to Trump’s “Crooked Hillary” slogan, plastered across signs and T-shirts.
However, it is the “Bernie or Bust” movement that can destroy Clinton’s presidential campaign. The “Bernie or Bust” supporters protested loudly throughout the convention. Cameras caught supporters crying while wearing their Bernie memorabilia, giving Sanders’ a long standing ovation during his speech, and even walking out of the Wells Fargo Center at one point.
Sarah Silverman, a comedienne, earned flak for calling out the “Bernie or Bust” supporters for “being ridiculous.” Are they though? The email scandal represents a deep flaw in the party structure, a flaw that could have cost a serious, beloved-by-millennials candidate the election. The situation demands protest. It demands attention. Bernie Sanders deserves more as do we as voters.
However, Bernie called off the protests. He told his delegates to toe the party line and nominate Clinton. He thanked his supporters and directed them towards the official Democratic nominee for President.
Even when Sanders suffered a defeat, he recognized the big picture. He didn’t sulk or lash out (looking at you, Mr. Trump). He knew that the DNC isn’t about one candidate. It’s not the Clinton National Convention—it’s the Democratic National Convention. Sanders is calling on everyone to support the party, the party that will elect Hillary Clinton President.
Sanders recognizes that a splitting of the party—such as the “Bernie or Bust” movement can annihilate a campaign. If Bernie supporters don’t vote in November, if Clinton does not have the backing of the Democratic party as a whole, Trump will win.
It is unbelievably sad that we have come to the point of picking between “the lesser of two evils,” but here we are. There isn’t going to be a write-in vote that magically allows Bernie to take over the electoral college—it’s Trump or Clinton. Who do you want in the White House?
Clinton attempted to appeal to the Bernie supporters, publicly addressing Bernie’s tenacious pursuance of rights reforms and his ability to reach the hard-to-reach millennial voters. Bernie Sanders tried to reach his devout followers and steer them to Clinton.
At the end of the day, Clinton and Sanders can agree—without Bernie supporters, we will see Donald Trump on Inauguration Day in DC.
Kelly was born and raised in Virginia, where she currently lives with her rescued pup, Anna and fiance. She loves frozen Hershey bars, Netflix, running, and playing with new technology. Her best friend is her over-sized giraffe stuffed animal and her sass, which never leaves her side.