Bernie Sanders appears to have lost his chance to secure the Democratic nomination for president. At the Democratic National Convention in late July, it seems extremely likely that the party will nominate Hillary Clinton, barring a criminal conviction for her email scandal or a massive shift in the preferences of superdelegates.
As an ardent supporter of and organizer for Bernie and as someone who traveled to Iowa and South Carolina to knock on doors for his campaign, I'm crushed. It's hard for me to believe that a majority of Democrats were made aware of the rampant corruption in the political establishment — and then voted for it anyways.
Regardless, we have to soldier on as a movement. The worst thing we could do at this crucial turning point is give up. If we disband because Bernie Sanders isn't the Democratic nominee, we will throw away everything we've accomplished. Let's not forget that at the beginning of this process, Sanders was sneered at by establishment media and establishment politicians alike. No one gave him a chance! Now, Bernie has won 22 states and finished less than three percentage points away from Clinton in seven others. He received over 10 million votes and more than 45 percent of the pledged delegates.
Bernie has come a lot further than anyone could've imagined because his supporters truly care about the issues on which he takes a stand. Many Clinton supporters — not all, but a large portion of them — appear to support Clinton not because of political stances, but because of who she is as a person. They admire her dedication to certain issues, her diverse political experience or her persistence through more than two decades of Republican attacks. I respect that. But what Clinton backers have to understand about us Sanders supporters is that our movement isn't just about one candidate. This isn't like 2008, where two center-left candidates who represented essentially the same ideals battled it out over personality and credentials. For us, this is a symbolic struggle between the political establishment — where money from Wall Street, the private prison industry and oil companies flows through the system like sewage — and the millions of Americans who think politicians ought to be accountable to the people who voted for them, not the people who paid for their television ads.
Thus, Sanders losing the nomination is a disappointing setback, but it isn't the end. The beautiful and powerful network of young progressives, disaffected independent voters and former hippies whom Bernie has inspired is not going away. We're going to unite behind other candidates who will carry the torch and enact the reforms we need. We're going to do our best to make sure that Congress, as well as statehouses, city councils and county councils across the country, are packed full of Democrats. Not just any Democrats, though. Democrats who are willing to reform the broken campaign finance system so we can have fair elections. Democrats who will push for universal healthcare and universal college education. Democrats who truly care about the environment and who will move aggressively to wean our country off of fossil fuels as quickly as possible. Democrats who understand that the financial industry cannot be allowed to run rampant and engage in reckless behavior that will crash our economy yet again.
As Vice President of Knights for Bernie and an activist dedicated to the political revolution, I will help lead the charge. I'm going to focus on electing principled progressives and Bernie supporters. I want Alan Grayson to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate. I want someone to step up to kick John Mica out of the House. I want Carlos Guillermo Smith and Rick Roach to represent me in Tallahassee. And regardless of who our president is, we will focus our energy on the rest of the political system. As Bernie always says, change comes from the bottom up, not from the top down. It appears we'll have to wait to elect a principled progressive president like Bernie Sanders. But right now, we can sure as hell do all we can to make sure everyone else in our government will follow in his footsteps.
Alex Storer is the Entertainment Editor of the Central Florida Future. You can reach him at AlexanderS@centralfloridafuture.com.