COLUMN: Bernie or bust

Unfortunately for the supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, it’s looking like Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president.

It’s a reality Democrats must face sooner rather than later in order to concentrate their efforts for the general election in November.

Some will call on Sanders to drop out of the race, since the chances are slim he will win the nomination at this point. But he can, and should, stay in the race until the last votes are cast.

In 2008, after all, Clinton ignored calls from those supporting then-Sen. Barack Obama to drop out of the Democratic race in May. She continued campaigning until the last primaries were held, despite not being able to win the nomination.

Sanders should do the same in order to influence the Democratic Party’s platform as much as he possibly can.

He has still captured a significant amount of delegates in the race. As a result, he holds clout over what positions the Democratic Party will emphasize in its platform for keeping the White House in November.

Many of the issues he’s championed throughout his campaign, such as addressing wealth inequality, passing a $15 minimum wage and lowering the costs of college, should be included in the party’s platform if the party wants to include and energize the supporters of Sanders’ campaign.

Some, but not all, of Sanders’ supporters refuse to cast their votes for Clinton in the future. Sanders’ supporters have created an online campaign called ‘Bernie or Bust’ to signify their universal support for Sanders. The Atlantic reported on a McClatchy-Marist poll from April said 25 percent of Sanders’ supporters will not support Clinton if she is the nominee. Others have called for Sanders to break away from the party entirely and run as an independent.

These ideas are harmful. The image of Donald Trump, a racist xenophobic fear mongerer, getting sworn in on election day could become history if Sanders runs as an independent and splits the Democratic vote.

In 2000, progressive voters frustrated with both the Republican and Democratic parties threw their support behind Green Party candidate Ralph Nader. He won almost three percent of the vote nationally, but, according to the New York Times, in the closely watched states of Florida, Oregon and New Hampshire, Nader’s supporters could have helped Al Gore win those states, and the White House, if they had voted for Gore.

I know many Sanders supporters have reservations about supporting Clinton. I firmly believe, if she wants to win in November, she will have to work hard to earn the votes of young people, first-time voters and independents, who have all flocked to Sanders’ campaign in droves.

Clinton is rated as a hard-core liberal and is barely more moderate than Sanders in her beliefs, according to elections website FiveThirtyEight.

If it comes down to the more liberal beliefs of Clinton versus the extremism and hateful rhetoric of Trump, I know who I will be voting for this fall. And I urge those who have followed Sanders throughout the past year to think about doing the same.

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