As Secretary Clinton’s delegate count steadily and defiantly crept past the 2,000 mark this past Tuesday, Sen. Sanders was forced to admit that the possibility of his loss was becoming increasingly real. Those who know me as an avid Hillary supporter know that Tuesday was a day of celebration and triumph; amidst this rejoicing, however, arose a unique opportunity to extend my deepest gratitude to the man who has pushed Secretary Clinton to be her best: Senator Bernie Sanders.
Throughout this often unpredictable and chaotic election cycle, Sen. Sanders has demonstrated a stability and consistency that few other candidates can measure up to. Unlike their Republican opponents, who resorted to making extremely overt vulgar jokes and personal attacks, both Sanders and Clinton remained relatively civil, and far more presidential than their conservative competitors. Sanders’ commitment to a more collegial race, despite the ever rising pressure to stoop to the lower level of their Republican counterparts, forced Clinton to avoid playing the dirty politics that we have become far too familiar with in the travesty that is our current political climate.
One of Secretary Clinton’s greatest advantages in this election cycle has been her electability; in the general election, moderate voters are far more likely to support Clinton due to her more centrist positions on a lot of issues, especially if their choice is between Trump and Clinton. This same logic applies when projecting her success in getting legislation passed as president, as she will be able to promote proposals that are far better aligned with both parties and have a better chance of garnering bipartisan support rather than alienating conservatives within Congress.
With that being said, Bernie’s recurring progressivism has pushed Clinton further to the left in order to maintain her appeal to liberals across the spectrum. He has forced several issues that have long been brushed under the rug onto the political limelight, including rising college costs, the necessity of campaign finance reform, and combatting climate change. If Secretary Clinton had any easier of a run, the election season would have been overtaken by media coverage that was exclusively fixated on the disaster that is the Republican nomination battle; this would have further disillusioned both liberals and conservatives alike. The fight between Sanders and Clinton has not only strengthened the liberal agenda, but the condition of discourse across the nation as well. The similarities between the two have also highlighted the reality that while the Republican party continues to be fragmented with a growing cleavage between the two most prominent factions, the Democratic party remains far more unified, consistently defending a set of core, unflinching values, even if the methods of upholding these values are in dispute.
Even if Sen. Sanders loses the Democratic nomination, as most polls and experts predict with a high degree of certainty, the position of great influence in the national political sphere that Sanders now holds sets him up extremely well to use his platform to defeat Donald Trump in the general election; by throwing his support behind Clinton, Sanders would prevent the ‘Bernie or bust’ movement from gaining hold.This is critical to ensuring a Republican loss in November, something that is becoming increasingly necessary as Trump continues to dominate the Republican primary.
In his speech on Tuesday, Sen. Sanders stated, “This campaign is not just about electing a president … It is about transforming our nation. It is about having the courage to demand a political revolution, and you are the revolutionaries.” Irrespective of the outcome of the democratic primaries, the more traction that Sen. Sanders gains, the more progressive the Democratic political agenda becomes, as the establishment is forced to move closer to the left to maintain its appeal to its predominant voter base. The more liberal the establishment becomes (an establishment that has allowed the secretary to be as successful as she has been throughout this election cycle), the more progressive Clinton is forced to be in order to pull voters out of their home on election day in November.
Secretary Clinton, the Democratic Party, individual voters, and the nation at large have all sought to gain from Sanders’ valiant fight for the nomination. As the primary season draws to a close, Clinton and Sanders supporters alike ought to thank Bernie for questioning our political system to such a degree where the idea of reform has become a tangible possibility rather than a distant, idealistic notion. The political revolution, gradual as it must be, can only continue if we remain hopeful, engaged, and informed.