Bernie Sanders’s first presidential campaign in 2016 introduced a support base that had been a source of continual provocation.
Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton often faced harassment from his followers and ever since Trump’s unexpected victory over Hillary Clinton, much discussion has been concentrated on the extent to which intense Sanders supporters’ refusal to embrace Clinton led to Trump winding up in the White House.
According to the analysis of the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Survey, fewer than 80 percent of those who voted for Sanders, an independent, in the Democratic primary did the same for Clinton when she faced off against Trump.
What’s more, 12 percent of those who backed Sanders actually cast a vote for Trump.
Are these same supporters going to harm us in 2020? Did any of them regret their protest vote?
Will they stand with the Democratic Party and candidate this time around, if that candidate is not Bernie Sanders?
Are we, as Democrats, able to converse with them as the adults they are and not allow ourselves to get defensive and repugnant?
It’s 2008 and I’m pissed!
I have experienced the disappointment of having to see my candidate end their bid for office after an effective campaign.
I have been very unreserved of my support for Hillary Clinton since she announced her candidacy to run for President of the United States in January 2007.
I was not an engaged activist, nor was I a person that profoundly cared about anything having to do with politics until Hillary Clinton inspired me to “give a shit.”
I attended rallies and fund-raisers and joined several Democratic organizations. I was invigorated and passionate, but as we know, that all ended.
It was June 2008 and I was a Clinton delegate representing my precinct at the Texas Democratic Convention in Austin. It was there, during the convention, that we watched Clinton bring her bid for the White House to an end with an unequivocal call for her supporters to get behind Barack Obama.
Now, I could take you through the grieving process I experienced, but I’ll just say that I was beyond discouraged and resentful.
Who was Barack Obama anyway? What had he accomplished at this point?
Hillary had been politically active for many years before we ever knew her name.
Apart from being First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, a twice-elected Senator for the state of New York and serving on three committees, one being the Senate Committee on Armed Services, she was the candidate with the experience needed to become President.
Sure, I’d vote for Obama. In eight years, not now.
I couldn’t get past the bitter anger I had at that time, thinking America got it so wrong.
On August 27, I watched the National Democratic Convention on TV and looked on as Hillary Clinton interrupted the official roll call to move that Obama be selected by acclamation.
I was very impressed. The gesture was not only classy, but it showed immeasurable sportsmanship.
That evening, Hillary delivered an impassioned plea for party unity in a dynamic address to the Democratic Convention, “Barack Obama is my candidate and he must be our president.”
She also challenged her supporters, many of whom have been hesitant to shift their allegiance to Obama. “I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or … were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?”
The following November Obama was elected President of the United States.
Feeling the Bern
I had to preface with the 2008 election to make the comparison explicit on how some irrationally stubborn Bernie Sanders supporters helped elect Donald Trump.
Let’s not forget the humiliation we were forced to endure during the 2016 Democratic Convention when Sanders, taking his cue from Hillary’s unifying display from the 2008 convention, attempted to present a united front by asking delegates to accept Hillary Clinton’s nomination unanimously and by acclamation.
“I move that Hillary Clinton be selected as the nominee of the Democratic party for President of the United States,” Sanders told the convention.
Bernie’s request incited some supporters to march out of the arena in protest, while others held a sit-in in view of reporters near a large media tent.
Bernie supporters grappled with that message, interrupting some convention speakers and booing Sanders as he tried to encourage his followers to think of what a Trump presidency would look like.
“It is easy to boo, but it is harder to look your kids in the face if we are living under a Trump presidency,” Sanders responded.
Kari Garcia, a 25-year-old Sanders supporter who went to the convention said, “Believe it or not we are not all blind followers of Bernie. We love Bernie and everything he represents, but all because he tells us to do something doesn’t mean we will.”
Brian Carolus, a 27-year-old delegate from California, said calls for them to support Clinton or risk a Trump presidency amounted to “victim-blaming.”
Robert Satiacum, a delegate from Washington State, said he was unsure whom he would support in November but that he had ruled out Clinton, whom he termed a “criminal,” and Trump, whom he described as a “clown.”
“Never, never,” he said of voting for Clinton. “Absolutely not.”
Several demonstrations occurred after the nomination drawing at least 1,000 people as enraged Bernie Sanders voters assembled with Black Lives Matter supporters for a wide-scale march.
A few protesters started a fire, feeding the flames with papers and placards. Someone threw an American flag into the fire, provoking many to cheer, while some objected and tried to douse the flames.
We cannot let our personal feelings or our sense of loyalty to our candidate of choice get in the way of defeating Trump’s anti-constitutional, flippant, tantrum-laced, whiny childish “presidency”.
In the event that Bernie Sanders is not our candidate in 2020, will his supporters switch their allegiance to Donald Trump in large enough numbers this November?
In the end, I reluctantly voted for Obama. I’m so happy I did.
In 2012, I anxiously voted for him again.
Bernie Sanders is not my choice for a Democratic Candidate in 2020, but you can bet your ass, I will vote for him if he is our candidate.