Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Feel the Bern!

What an incredible day for the Democratic Party and the United States of America.

And what a rotten, awful, no-good day for the Republican Party and Donald Trump.

Bernie Sanders didn't just make a concession speech today. And he didn't merely say that he would help Hillary Clinton defeat Trump, as he had done before. Nope, he went well beyond all that with this full-hearted, full-throated endorsement:
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.

I have come here today not to talk about the past but to focus on the future. That future will be shaped more by what happens on November 8 in voting booths across our nation than by any other event in the world. I have come here to make it as clear as possible as to why I am endorsing Hillary Clinton and why she must become our next president.
After promising to go to every corner of the country to make sure Clinton wins the presidency and the Democrats win back Congress, he ended with this simple statement:
Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here today.
No doubt about it: Today went a long way toward ensuring a Democratic victory in November, and Bernie's convention speech will no doubt amplify it exponentially.

How many people were expecting him to endorse her this earnestly and forcefully? After witnessing the last few months, I must say I was somewhat surprised and unexpectedly moved by the uncompromised unity on display in New Hampshire today. I'm also still processing the fact that this epic, stressful, exhilarating and historic Democratic contest is finally over in the most affirming way imaginable.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: I've liked and admired Bernie Sanders for a long time. Every time I heard him interviewed over the years, I listened closely and agreed with many things he said. Every time I saw him speak in Congress, I watched intently and cheered him on. And when he entered the race for the nomination last spring, I didn't view it negatively. Heck, I even watched his entire announcement speech with great interest.

But the reason I didn't support him is probably obvious: There was already someone else in the race who I strongly felt would be a better president for many reasons, and I was sticking with her.

Soon after his announcement, I started seeing a ton of negativity (much of it misleading at best) from the left directed at Hillary on social media, but I chose not to engage in similar negative attacks on Bernie in response. The tone on both sides changed with the new year as things got more contentious, but for the most part my criticisms were aimed at certain campaign tactics (out-of-hand surrogates, "artful smears", that odd Vatican trip, etc.) and not at Sanders personally or his lifetime record. Whatever one might think of such criticisms, I think we can all admit that things got a little heated for a while there on both sides and it wasn't always fun.

But as we saw in 2008, ill feelings within the party can dissipate sooner and more decisively than might seem possible at first. I realize that some of us aren't there yet...maybe not even close...but as someone who fought my heart out on the losing side of the Obama/Clinton race from eight years ago, I have some advice.

To the Clinton folks still mad at Sanders, it's time to rise above and let it go. This speech couldn't have been easy for him, but it was the right thing to do and he should be applauded and welcomed to the team without reservation. Lingering on grievances from last February or so isn't going to help our candidate win. It's all about the future at this point, and it's looking much brighter after today. Embrace it.

To the #StillSanders crowd, I only ask that you keep listening to Clinton over the next four months with an open mind and fresh ears. Give her the chance to earn your vote. If that doesn't work, listen to the advice from Sanders himself (along Obama, Biden, Warren, Franken, Feingold, and every other Democrat in America). And if that doesn't work, just listen to a few Trump speeches and know that only one person can stop this walking disaster from becoming president.

Tomorrow we win the future, but today we should all #FeelTheBern!

Thank you, Senator Sanders.

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