Bernie Sanders will not be the next president of the United States. While he may not have won the primary, he certainly has had a positive impact on political discourse during his campaign. He escalated important issues such as income inequality and campaign finance reform to the forefront of the national discussion and brought a refreshing brand of honesty, integrity and consistency that has too often been absent from U.S. politics. He called for compassion and acceptance of all people and attempted to build bridges, unlike a certain politician who “tells it like it is” and prefers building walls.
No, he will not be the nominee. People who “felt the Bern” across the nation will have to figure out the best way to work towards the ideas and goals he laid out in the primary. Whether his supporters want to admit it or not, a Hillary Clinton presidency is essential to this task. I supported Sanders, but if we want to accomplish the ideals he laid out then we need to elect Clinton president.
It’s very simple. Barring some major unforeseen event, the next president will be either Donald Trump or Clinton. Because of the way our political system is set up, no third party candidate has a realistic chance of winning. Someone like Jill Stein may be closer to Sanders on some issues, but because of how the Electoral College works she cannot win. You’re waking up the morning after Election Day with Clinton or Trump as president. The question is therefore which one is going to fight for what Sanders and his supporters believe in.
While Clinton is not a perfect candidate by far, she is very close to Sanders on many issues (http://www.businessinsider.com/hillary-clinton-vs-bernie-sanders-on-the-issues-2015-9), from women’s rights to the environment to LGBT rights to immigration. She is even further to the left on a few issues, such as gun control. Most importantly, she espouses many of Sanders’s core principles regarding compassion and acceptance of people belonging to all races, backgrounds, beliefs and genders.
While Trump may be an anti-establishment candidate like Sanders he couldn’t be more opposite. He has shown little respect for everyone from Muslims to Hispanics to women. He does “love the poorly educated” though. Many of his proposals set dangerous precedents (ramping up torture and increasing surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods) or are incredibly stupid and unrealistic (see: Border Wall). He believes vaccines cause autism and that climate change is a Chinese hoax. It would be irresponsible to allow him to attain the highest office in the nation considering that he holds these beliefs. It would be an insult to Bernie Sanders and everything he stood for to vote for him.
While Clinton will certainly have strong influence on foreign and domestic policy let us not forget Congress passes the laws. If you worry that Clinton will renege on provisions in the Democratic platform such as a $15 minimum wage don’t. If Congress passes such a law she’ll sign it. It’s one of the political reasons Sanders endorsed Clinton. He’ll likely be a more powerful and influential figure in the Senate, and will hopefully be able to introduce a wide variety of progressive bills. If he manages to get those passed, a President Clinton would sign them into law. Many of their goals were not that far apart to begin with, and to not do so would be political suicide for her.
So what do you think? Do you trust Senator Sanders to continue fighting for a progressive agenda in Congress? When he does, he will need a cooperating president to have any chance for real change to take place. We still have a strong chance at a progressive future. But if Trump wins, the progressive movement stands to lose too much. Everything from gay marriage to the environmental future of our planet will be at risk. I ask you to continue to believe in Bernie Sanders, and see what he can accomplish with a Democratic President, Democratic Senate and liberal Supreme Court majority. And I ask you to vote in such a way that we can give him these tools.
Jacob Kowalski is a staff columnist for The Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.