Throughout an interview with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Thursday, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes tried, repeatedly, to get the Vermont senator to endorse Hillary Clinton for president of the United States.
Sanders refused — four times.
Since Sanders said that he plans to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, reporters have become increasingly persistent in fishing for a formal endorsement. But Sanders has refused to give them what they want.
Using the leverage he has accumulated throughout his unexpectedly successful presidential campaign, Sanders is withholding an endorsement in order to keep pressure on the Democratic establishment, urging party leaders to include more progressive elements in the party’s platform, from language supporting a $15 minimum wage to opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
And Sanders has had some success. While Democratic representatives appointed by the Clinton campaign have rebuffed Sanders’s attempt to include language opposing President Obama’s favored trade agreement, the Democratic platform is definitely showing the influence of the Sanders campaign.
But it does not go far enough, Sanders contends, and he will continue to place pressure on Hillary Clinton and high-ranking Democrats until he feels that his supporters have been given an adequate voice.
He has also not hesitated to express his disappointment that, in the name of loyalty, many Democrats have refused to take a strong stand against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pact that would grant unprecedented power to large corporations.
But while repeatedly refusing to endorse Clinton due to substantial and fundamental policy disagreements, Sanders has affirmed his desire to defeat Donald Trump, who has used the many economic grievances of the American public to worsen racial tensions and anti-immigrant backlash.
“I’m gonna do everything that I can to defeat Donald Trump,” Sanders told Hayes on Thursday.
Sanders cited Trump’s bigoted comments about Muslims, Mexicans, and women, as well as his desire to give huge tax breaks to the wealthiest, as reasons that he should be thoroughly repudiated.
But when Hayes asked if Sanders would be joining the Clinton campaign in his anti-Trump effort, Sanders once more refused to offer anything resembling an endorsement.
Sanders reiterated that he is “trying to work with Secretary Clinton’s campaign on areas that we can agree on,” but he acknowledged that there are differences that continue to drive a wedge between the two campaigns — Sanders’ support of single-payer healthcare and free public college tuition being primary examples.
By the conclusion of the interview, Sanders expressed his hope that the Clinton camp will ultimately come to embrace the aspects of his agenda that have thus far been left out of the Democratic platform, but, he added, “We are not there at this moment.”
Though he has come under scrutiny from the Democratic Party leadership for holding to his promise to stay in the race through the convention, most Democrats, according to polling data, seem to think it is a good thing that he has remained.
A poll released by Morning Consult last month “found that 57 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents think Sanders should stay in the race.”
For Sanders, his commitment to those who voted for him goes beyond a symbolic gesture of thanks; it is a commitment to creating serious change in a nation in which politics has become the instrument of the highest bidder, and in which ordinary Americans are being left in the cold by an economic system that disproportionately favors the wealthy.
“What do we want?” Sanders wrote in a recent op-ed for the Washington Post.
“We want to end the rapid movement that we are currently experiencing toward oligarchic control of our economic and political life. As Lincoln put it at Gettysburg, we want a government of the people, by the people and for the people. That is what we want, and that is what we will continue fighting for.”
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]