During the primary season Sen. Bernie Sanders started off polite towards Hillary Clinton, and then as his campaign success surprised us all, he hit the former Secretary of State hard on her ties to the financial sector, her support for the Iraq war and her general status as a very political politician.
As the campaign went on (and on and on) Clinton cleaned up and grabbed delegate after delegate, and finally won (even if you discounted superdelegates who supported Clinton by a vast majority and weren’t likely to switch). Eventually Sanders was done. He limped on proudly for a few more weeks, in part to make sure that he could have a say in the Democratic Party platform, but everyone except his biggest backers waited for him to be gently steered out of the room.
He has not been steered. Sanders has walked himself out. But not before endorsing Hillary Clinton for president because, in the words of the always on-point The Onion, “she’s a different person than Donald Trump.”
Sanders was generous and kind in his New Hampshire speech today, but one look at Clinton’s face proved that she was certainly having a better day than he was. And when they hugged after Sanders spoke, well, Clinton lingered a lot more than Sanders.
What exactly did Sanders have to say about the woman he has called corrupt, warmongering, a flip-flopper on issues like the TPP, and all that? Well, he spent several paragraphs thanking his campaign and everyone who voted for him. But near the middle of the speech he admitted that, “Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nominating process, and I congratulate her for that. She will be the Democratic nominee for president, and I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next president of the United States.”
And then he went on to discuss “the future.” Sanders wants everyone to know that it’s not about which candidate is president (though Not Donald Trump would be great, because Trump is awful) but what they can do to help the people in America who need helping. Sanders, with rising enthusiasm, actually praised Clinton, if only as a contrast to Trump. Many of Trump’s Republican endorsers have given him more tepid praise.
“It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues,” Sanders noted, but she’s the best that the people who don’t want Trump have available to them. That’s true if you don’t count third parties or not bothering to vote. Clinton vs. Trump it is, which makes it likely that it will be President Clinton: The Sequel come next January, even if Bernie’s most ardent bros stay home on election day and sulk.
And it sounds like some of them will do just that. Sanders’ Facebook post about the endorsement has been flooded with furious comments from his fans. A few appear to understand his choice, but many more are insulting to Clinton, saying they will neve support her and that they’ll go for “#JillBeforeHill” or, even in one case, Gary Johnson.
A lot of people who threaten to go third party might just not bother, but if even a small percentage of Sanders’ fans got for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, even Clinton’s inevitability won’t be able to turn this election boring.