To avoid having Trump as president, Sanders is calling up the vote for Hillary Clinton. For the Democrats, the closing of ranks is important — and the senator incidentally has changed the political debate.
New Hampshire is the state in which sparring Democrats reconcile. In 2008, the underdog Hillary Clinton called upon her supporters to back Barack Obama — fittingly in a small town named Unity. Unity between Clinton and her rival Bernie Sanders was a long struggle, but now both stand on stage in Portsmouth.
Similar to 2008, the appearance is clearly organized and choreographed and it naturally results in a mutual embrace about which TV commentators have long speculated. Sanders speaks first. He thanks his voters and pugnaciously demands more social justice in the United States. The goal is clear: His fans should know that a vote for Republican candidate Donald Trump is not on his mind. At the end, there is clear praise: “Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here today.”
Like Sanders, Clinton also attacks Trump in every form and characterizes the Republican as unfit for the White House. The peace offering consisting of the words “thank you” is crucial: She is thanking Bernie fans for their passionate dedication, and invites them to take part in her election campaign. Clinton is surrounded by placards with the clear motto “Stronger Together” – that sounds more positive than a motto that would be most honest: “Together Against Donald Trump.”
How Sanders Changed the Political Debate
Over the past weeks, it has been considered good form to ridicule Sanders as a grumpy old man (he is that). He was accused of destroying the unity of the Democrats with a mixture of narrow-mindedness and hubris and thereby providing the opportunity for Trump to become president.
This criticism is surprising for several reasons. There are still just under four months until the election, so Sanders had no reason to hurry (especially as he was never interested in the role of vice president). In 2008, too, many Clinton fans swore they would never vote for Obama and then changed their opinions. In contrast to 2008, Sanders’ supporters do not appear especially narrow-minded: According to a Pew poll, already 85 percent of Sanders fans today say they will vote for the former secretary of state; eight years ago the Clinton fans remained stubbornly in their protest position for considerably longer.
The pusillanimous criticism of Sanders’ political strategy also fails to recognize everything he achieved with his campaign, in spite of the ultimate defeat in the Democratic candidacy duel. That is quite a lot. To whom, after all, do we owe the fact that is there now open discussion about topics like lack of maternity rights, very low wages, and the excessive influence of billionaires and lobbyists on politics? Even the Republicans could not avoid the discussion of poverty. Sanders initiated these debates. And the fact alone that he inspired millions of disillusioned voters to be interested in politics deserves respect.
It is also worth taking a look back. Hillary Clinton appeared so unbeatable in 2015 that hardly anyone dared to run for the White House. Even Elizabeth Warren who is much more well-known and represents positions similar to Sanders did not have the courage.
Sanders started with 3 percent support in the polls, and his rants struck at the feeling of many Americans who are still fighting for economic survival after the financial crisis of 2008 and feel left behind. Without the Trump candidacy, the gaping rift within the American left would have been the giant topic of the primary campaign.
It is because he is an experienced and skilled negotiator in spite of his rhetoric of revolution that Sanders did not immediately support Clinton after the last primary in Washington, D.C. Thus, he succeeded in moving the Democrats far to the left. Of course, the platform for the convention is nonbinding, but a President Clinton cannot completely ignore it.
Without the senator from Vermont, the Democrats would not have set a $15 minimum wage as a goal. Thanks to Sanders, the party is officially demanding the elimination of the death penalty, and Sanders got Clinton to change her plans for financing college education. Anyone from a family that earns less than $125,000 should now be permitted to study at state colleges for free. That is progress in a country where millions of students pile up dollars of debt in the tens of thousands. The passages regarding bank regulation are now formulated in a tougher way than Clinton originally wanted.
Naturally, Sanders did not achieve everything he wanted. A clear rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement is missing (Clinton is a great proponent) as well as the ban on fracking. Yet the positions on the legalization of marijuana and a CO2 tax also bear Sanders’ signature. “We achieved at least 80 percent of our goals,” recognized Sander’s adviser, Warren Gunnels.
Of course, Bernie Sanders did not make himself especially popular with Democratic officials by not immediately announcing his endorsement. But today one must say Sanders gambled and won quite a bit. The opinion of John Cassidy in The New Yorker is very fitting: “Only in the narrowest of senses can his campaign be considered a failure.”
What Happens Now
One cannot expect that Clinton and Sanders will appear together very often. For one thing, the chemistry between the two of them is not right (yet) and it is more effective when Clinton cheerleaders (among them President Obama and the leftist Elizabeth Warren) appear alone.
In the fall, Sanders might campaign primarily in those states where he performed especially well in the primaries, along with New Hampshire, that is particularly in Wisconsin and Michigan. And because millennials celebrated Sanders for months, the 74-year-old will certainly tour diverse college cities to warn of Trump.
If he appears with indie bands like “TV on the Radio” or “Vampire Weekend” (ideally shortly before Election Day on Nov. 8 when voting is already possible in many states), then Clinton will collect many, many votes. That billionaire Trump doesn’t like the closing of ranks is made clear in this tweet:
“Donald Trump “@realDonaldTrump I am somewhat surprised that Bernie Sanders was not true to himself and his supporters. They are not happy that he is selling out!”
Which role the self-proclaimed “Democratic Socialist” will play at the convention at the end of July in Philadelphia is still unclear. Sanders and his advisers have made clear for months that with their millions of supporters, they want to ensure that candidates who are as progressive as possible are elected to Congress. At the “peace summit” in Portsmouth, Sanders said it like this: If his supporters want it, the “political revolution” is not over.