Sad Bernie Holdouts: Quit Conspiracy-Theorizing and Get to Work


Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for President today at a joint press conference with Clinton in Illinois. The endorsement effectively closes the book on Sanders’ underdog campaign and unifies the Democratic field in advance of the party’s convention in Philadelphia in two weeks.

It has evidently also left some Bernie dead-enders in a state of existential shock and denial.

Take Ethan Winnett, a 31-year-old gentleman from Waukeegan, Illinois, who’s quoted in the Times as speculating that maybe Sanders was being “duped” or “threatened” by Clinton into making the endorsement.

“What happened to ‘taking it to the convention?'” the New Yorkers for Bernie Sanders Facebook page asked in disbelief. “Must have been afraid of a barbell ‘accident’ or being shot down,” responded a commenter. “Shameful.  Still will never vote for her. Unless he is slated to be VP, he’s dead to me.”

A thought: If you’re enraged or flabbergasted that a major-party presidential candidate would wind down his campaign as nearly all such campaigns are wound down, I would venture to suggest you have made a fundamental category error, mistaking mainstream electoral politics for transformational rupture.

Bernie Sanders may well have been the least nauseating candidate in the 2016 presidential race, and his candidacy forced some issues into the primary-season conversation that would likely not have been there otherwise. When politicians espouse platforms you believe in, there’s nothing wrong with supporting them. But in the food-pyramid of political change, presidential elections are the Applebee’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae — not where you want to be focusing the majority of your attention.

Most politicians are craven goons who will only do the right thing if they are frightened they’ll lose their jobs if they don’t. Even those with a vision of how to do the right thing can only do so with robust and well-organized popular support. The real work — the base of the food-pyramid of change making — involves organizing people, educating people, using the theatrical potential of protest and direct action to highlight the violent and absurd contradiction of the way things are. Sanders marshaled the rhetoric of revolution, but he was running an electoral campaign. He lost. Even if he’d won, he would not have been the savior the more messianic Berners believed him to be. The real work is harder and longer than a presidential campaign. Sad Bernie-lovers of America, time to get back to it.