Why Bernie Sanders Won’t Endorse Hillary Clinton

During an appearance on The Late Show on Thursday night, Bernie Sanders told host Stephen Colbert that he is not ready to endorse Hillary Clinton for president of the United States, responding with a flat “no” to Colbert’s inquiry.

Though reports have emerged today noting that Sanders acknowledged that he will vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election, the Vermont senator has thus far withheld a formal endorsement, citing his desire to bring his campaign’s energy and platform to the Democratic convention in July.

On Friday morning, in an interview with CBS News, Sanders reiterated that, though he said he will vote for Clinton, he will not endorse her.

When asked why he has yet to endorse Clinton, Sanders responded, “Because I have not heard her say the things that I think needs to be said.”

Throughout the primary process, Sanders and Clinton have engaged in intense battles over what it means to be a progressive. Clinton has opted for pragmatism and incrementalism, while Sanders has taken an ambitious, mass politics approach, one that brings new voters into the political process and fights for significant changes to America’s political and economic systems.

“What we are trying to do is make certain that she is going to come out very strongly in moving toward making public colleges and universities tuition free,” Sanders told Colbert, referring to one of the key components of his platform.

Until Clinton becomes more open to the changes Sanders has sought throughout his political career, it seems likely that Sanders will continue to withhold the formal endorsement.

However, Sanders also acknowledged that he has been in conversation with the Clinton campaign, insisting that he and his supporters will continue to fight for an America that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few, indicating that he will be willing to cooperate with Clinton in pursuit of this goal — provided that his supporters are given a voice throughout the process.

“We got 13 million votes,” Sanders said, “we got in virtually every primary and caucus the vast majority of young people — people 45 years of age or younger, and what those voters are saying to the establishment, to Secretary Clinton — ‘Hey are you gonna stand up for us? Are you gonna raise the minimum wage in fact to 15 bucks an hour?'”

Disagreements between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton run deep, but Sanders has also expressed the necessity of stopping Donald Trump, indicating that, while he and Clinton do not occupy common ground on many issues, they both want Donald Trump to be stopped.

Expressing a fear that has become common among Democrats, Colbert asked Sanders what he would say to those of his supporters who are considering voting for Trump.

The Vermont senator’s response was straightforward.

“My supporters,” he said, “are smart enough to know that we do not want a bigot to become president of the United States.”

Still, even within the agreement on the common threat comes differences in the two candidates’ visions for the road ahead.

Bernie Sanders, for his part, articulated his agenda in an op-ed for the Washington Post earlier this week.

“What do we want?” Sanders asked in response to those wanting to know why he has vowed to remain in the race.

“We want an economy that is not based on uncontrollable greed, monopolistic practices and illegal behavior. We want an economy that protects the human needs and dignity of all people — children, the elderly, the sick, working people and the poor. We want an economic and political system that works for all of us, not one in which almost all new wealth and power rests with a handful of billionaire families.”

Until Hillary Clinton decides to embrace the core components of this vision and demonstrates her commitment to progressive causes, it appears that a Sanders endorsement will not be forthcoming.

[Image via Michael Vadon | Flickr | Cropped and resized | CC BY-SA 2.0]

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