With the Democratic Convention only two months away, many columnists and politicians are arguing that Bernie Sanders should drop out of the presidential race. They say it is time to begin to unite the party behind the Democratic candidate who currently holds more delegates, Hillary Clinton. I disagree. Bernie dropping out now could potentially result in even more of his supporters refusing to show up to vote in November for the presidential election.
When Bernie Sanders jumped into the Democratic presidential race on May 26, 2015, many in the media did not treat his campaign seriously. With low name recognition, especially compared to that of the former First Lady, Bernie was expected to last only about three months. Since then, however, he has climbed 28.8 points in the polls (11.1 percent to 9.8 percent) and has won 21 of the 50 primaries and caucuses held so far. His supporters love how he differentiates himself, not just from his opponent, but also from the usual politicians, by standing firm for what he believes. He has been consistent not only throughout his campaign, but throughout his career. His ardent following has led to the creation of a movement that is known by its hashtag, #BernieorBust. While not an official group or movement, those that use it signify that they will not vote in the presidential election if Bernie Sanders is not the Democratic nominee. While I disagree with the movement (even though I am a Bernie supporter), it reflects a certain reality: people strongly dislike Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are two of the most hated presidential candidates of all time. Neither candidate has a positive net favorability rating, yet the one candidate who is overwhelmingly viewed favorably is the one people are calling on to drop out. There is no denying that people have connected with and been inspired by the Bern.
Even as a Bernie supporter, I can admit that Bernie has an almost impossible path to the nomination. At this point, he’s staying in the race is not about his becoming president. His presence forces Hillary to actually talk about issues so voters can know what she believes in before they vote for her. Even if Bernie Sanders dropped out today, his supporters would not necessarily flock straight to Hillary. To date, rather than making her case to them as to why she could represent their values, she has alienated them. Hillary supporters and attack dogs claim that the only reason Bernie supporters aren’t supporting Clinton is because they are sexist, as noted in a Huffington Post article posted May 25, 2016, titled “The Bernie vs. Hillary Battle All Boils Down to Sexism.” In this article, the author argues that the only reason “straight white men” won’t support Hillary is because they don’t believe a women should be president. As a Bernie supporter myself and a friend of many others, I can assure you this is not true. Bernie supporters like Bernie, not because of his gender, but because he is running his campaign on his ideas and ideals. On the other hand, Hillary is trying to sell herself, not her ideas. This makes it difficult for some voters to know whether or not they agree with her. If she talked more about her opinions, rather than about herself, she could most likely sway some undecided voters.
By staying in the race, Bernie Sanders offers Hillary Clinton an opportunity to express her position on the issues, not just provide her past experience. Giving her a stage to debate Bernie and discuss these issues before facing Donald Trump in the fall will hopefully keep her focus on the values that Bernie Sanders supporters will demand of the candidate they turn out to vote for in November.
By Jordan Steinberg