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I keep hearing all of this nonsense about Bernie having to “come around” to support Hillary Clinton.
While I think he may do just that, it’s not because of the traditional mindset that goes into our current two-party, “you only have two choices” thought process.
He may just support Clinton because she is the best of the nominees out there. He may just support her because out of the shit we’ve been given to choose from, she smells a tad bit less then the rest.
But I don’t think he will support her because he is a good Democrat who wants to unite the Party. He, unlike Elizabeth Warren, is an independent who chooses to caucus with Democrats. He, unlike any other candidate who ran for President in this election cycle, is an independent who chose the Party he would use to get him on the ballot.
He owes the Democratic National Committee nothing—and that is exactly what he should give them.
Bernie is a rarity in American politics. A politician who isn’t in someone’s back pocket, who owes banks, wealthy donors, and corporations nothing. Who he owes is who he has always said he owes, and that is the people. He owes Obama nothing, Clinton nothing, Wasserman Schultz nothing. Who, I believe, Bernie thinks he owes is people like me who supported him. Who, I believe, Bernie thinks he owes is people like you, people who his philosophy is designed to support. Who, I believe, Bernie thinks he owes is the very people he’s been fighting for all of his life.
We, in turn, owe Bernie a few things in my estimation, although I’ll bet you he’d disagree. I think we owe him a debt of gratitude for giving up over a year of his life to run for the top office in our nation not for his own personal gain as his opponent has, but for his own sense of passion for people. We owe him a certain amount of thanks for, as a young man, being arrested fighting for the civil rights of others. We owe him for championing causes not all that well regarded in our political world, and for doing so consistently and without fail well before it became “populist” to do so. We owe him for being independently minded, and for putting people before Party, something that is almost non-existent in today’s political landscape. Particularly at the levels of politics Bernie has reached.
We owe him for showing us just how progressive the Democratic Party isn’t, but how progressive it can become. We owe him for showing us that young people are, in fact, engaged and that our future can be bright. We owe him for reminding us just how far we’ve fallen when compared to the rest of the world, and how far we can go if we just find the will. We owe him for reminding us that our greatness isn’t found in how high a wall we can build, or how well we can bomb people into submission, but rather how educated we are, and how we care for each other in a way not defined by race, gender, or creed.
I also believe the Democratic Party owes Bernie Sanders something. Bernie has taught Democrats how to be progressive again. Bernie has showed Democrats that we need not be enslaved to the type of mediocrity that has defined the Party for far too long. He showed Democrats that revolutionary energy is not a bad thing, and that you don’t need to be a 20-something student to feel passion and energy toward an ideal. Bernie showed us all that a 74 year-old Jew from Brooklyn can relate to a 24-year-old student from the midwest, and that age, race, religion and address aren’t dividing points when passion and ideology meet toward a common goal.
I’m not sure what will happen once the DC primaries are over. I’m not sure if Bernie supports a candidate whose value system is all askew, and whose record supports a complete lack of principle and good judgement. I’m not sure if Bernie will sell his soul to support one bad candidate in order to stop another.
All I know is that I’m left with a hope that I haven’t felt for quite a long time.
I feel hope that a man has laid the tracks for what could be a bright future, and has planted a tree whose shade he will never get to enjoy.
Author: Tom Grasso
Image: Phil Roeder at Flickr
Editor: Renée Picard