U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders says it is up to his supporters whether their revolution continues beyond his failed presidential bid, but his call to support Hillary Clinton in this election has some feeling betrayed.
“I hope you take enormous pride in the historical accomplishments we have achieved,” Sanders said in his Democratic National Convention speech on Monday. “Together my friends we have begun a political revolution to transform America and that revolution, our revolution, continues.”
Sanders told his supporters he looked “forward to being part of that struggle with you” but that that he would support former Secretary of State Clinton for president.
For some, that was hard to stomach.
Clinton delegate Deloris Rome Hudson of Eaton was sitting between two Sanders supporters when he spoke.
“When Bernie said he was going to do everything he can to get Hillary elected their mouths dropped and one of them started crying. And they booed,” Hudson said. “(The woman delegate who cried) said, ‘He betrayed us.’ And I thought, ‘But what do you expect him to do? You gotta keep the party together. You don’t want (Republican nominee Donald J.) Trump to get elected.’”
Other Sanders delegates, like David Sparks of Clayton, say they will vote for Clinton while working for the causes that Sanders championed during his presidential run.
The Montgomery County Ohio Citizens for Bernie Sanders has been renamed the Miami Valley Progressive Caucus, and is working to form a state group of progressives to fight for candidates and causes, Sparks said.
The Clinton campaign and her allies in the Democratic Party are hoping that those who backed Sanders vote for her along with Democrats running for Senate and the House of Representatives.
“When Senator Sanders talks about continuing the revolution, he’s talking about furthering the ideals that are shared by everyone in the Hillary Clinton camp,” said Clinton campaign spokeswoman Jess McIntosh. “We’re talking about raising incomes, making higher education affordable, expanding health care, making the economy work for everyone, not just those at the top.”
Clinton supporters like Ohio House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton, argue that party unity will bring success at the ballot box, which is the only way to achieve the progressive political, economic and social goals of Sanders and his followers.
“We can’t govern if we can’t win,” said U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Cleveland, who took over as chairwoman of the convention after the controversy over leaked Democratic National Party emails appearing to show favoritism toward Clinton.
Daniel Lieberman of Clayton, a Miami University student in Philadelphia for the convention, said he supported Sanders but has switched to Clinton.
“I figured out we have to unite as a party and that’s what the main thing is, to beat Donald Trump. We have to unite,” said Lieberman, 21, whose parents are both prominent Democrats in Montgomery County. “I do think some of his supporters will not want to go along, but they need to because we’ve got to win in November.”
Some Sanders supporters are clearly not ready to heed Sanders’ advice to back Clinton, and anti-Clinton jeers were evident throughout the convention hall and the streets of Philadelphia during the convention’s first two days.
Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, made a bid for those disenchanted Sanders supporters Tuesday, speaking at a protest in downtown Philadelphia.
“You are transformation, you are a dream, you are a hope, you are our future,” Stein told the pro-Sanders crowd, some of whom chanted “Jill not Hill.”
Many held anti-Clinton signs, including some equating her to Trump.
“We are discovering the power that we have that will not be stopped,” Stein said. “We have the power and we are not going away.”
Protester Anthony Jackson of Dover, Del., said people are “fed up” and “want something different,” prompting them to switch support to Stein because they are “looking for any opportunity for anybody that’s actually going to be making some effort that’s going to represent us.”
But Sanders delegate Bonny Graham, 54, of Kent said she doesn’t see the Green Party as a viable alternative to Clinton because the party lacks an infrastructure to have a national campaign to cover the rural areas that support Trump.
“It’s possible I will vote for Hillary in November,” Graham said.
Political scientist Mark Caleb Smith said Sanders’ alliance of 1960s progressives and millennials has a more promising future if it grows within the Democratic Party, rather than breaking away as third parties have proven mostly unsuccessful in the U.S.
Democrat Frances Strickland, wife of U.S. Senate candidate and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, is optimistic that most Sanders supporters will stick with the party.
“I think we have some intractable progressives just like they have intractable people over on Trump’s side,” she said. “But I think the majority really got the message that we have to unify, we have to stay together. We are the party of diversity and we’ve got to find ways to come together even in our differences.”
Staff writer Laura A. Bischoff contributed to this report.
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