‘Not Me, Us’ Was Not Just A Slogan, And Bernie Sanders Is Not A ‘Sell Out’

Some Bernie supporters are calling Senator Sanders a sell out for endorsing Clinton. Some saw the White House as the primary end goal. Some say that Sanders’ all-strings-attached endorsement of the establishment candidate means that he was conning us the whole time. If that’s the case, his con job started before last summer.

His con job started in the early ’60s when he began his intricate web of deceit as a civil rights protest organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Perhaps the most clever of his manipulations was 25 years ago when Bernie spoke against the Gulf War before a near-empty Congress. Sure, his co-workers ignored him for years. Americans barely recognized his existence, but now, less than two weeks before the 2016 Democratic National Convention, the joke is on us. Right?

He probably thought he was pretty clever in his apparently carefully devised long-term plan to sell out the American public when he alone stood up to Alan Greenspan 13 years ago, as the powerful Chairman of the Federal Reserve smugly glared back at him in mockery. Right?

We were all played the fool when the so-called conniving 74-year-old Senator from Vermont dashed around the country, wearing the same suit at multiple events each day, imploring us to stand up and fight for ourselves and our own best interests. All the while, he was part of the establishment, waiting to sell us out and deliver us to Clinton on a $27 Tupperware platter. Right?

All this talk of Bernie selling out or conning the public is ridiculous. Complain all you want that it appears at this juncture as though he won’t run independently (I’m not happy about it either), but he didn’t just orchestrate the best pro-establishment hoax of our time, and he certainly didn’t sell out, unless trading a stipulated endorsement for the most progressive platform in Democratic history is the new definition of selling out.

The media wasn’t giving Senator Sanders much coverage last year when he started his campaign, but when Sanders declared his presidential intentions, the issues took supreme precedence over his own presidency.

In May of 2015, Bernie stood on the shore of Lake Champlain and made a campaign promise.

“Here is my promise to you for this campaign. Not only will I fight to protect the working families of this country, but we’re going to build a movement of millions of Americans who are prepared to stand up and fight back.”

As Sanders announced his intention for his presidential campaign, he was upfront.

“This is not about Bernie Sanders,” the gentleman from Vermont said to a mere 1,000 people in June 2015, a month after announcing his presidential bid. “The only way we win and transform America is when millions of people stand up as you’re doing today and say, ‘Enough is enough. This country belongs to all of us and not a handful of billionaires.’”

The fight ahead, he told the tiny crowd, which was considered impressive for such a fringe candidate at the time, “Is about you.”

A month later, he drew a crowd of nearly 10,000 with his message meant to incite millions of us to take our nation back.

“This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders, it is not about Hillary Clinton, it is not about anyone else, it is about you,” Sanders said, again in Madison, Wisconsin.

That was the night that CNN declared that Sanders’ “long-shot campaign got real.”

Yes, on Tuesday, Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton. He endorsed her after the number of pledged delegates, coupled with the number of superdelegates, indicated that the former Secretary of State would win enough total delegates to earn her the nomination during the first round of voting at the convention.

“Today, I endorsed Hillary Clinton to be our next president,” Sanders wrote to his supporters using Medium. “I know that some of you will be disappointed with that decision. But I believe that, at this moment, our country, our values, and our common vision for a transformed America, are best served by the defeat of Donald Trump and the election of Hillary Clinton.”

Maybe if more people had signed the Bernie-or-Bust pledge, we could have twisted his arm enough to convince him to run as a third-party candidate, but he always promised he wouldn’t play a spoiler. He always said that he would not help a Republican get into the White House, but instead of blasting and disavowing Bernie, his angry supporters could always try joining those trying to convince him that the only way to beat Trump is if he runs independently.

Sanders went further during his endorsement explanation on Medium, reminding his supporters that issues have always been paramount to his campaign in exchange for his “endorsement.”

“All of these progressive policies were at the heart of our campaign. The truth is our movement is responsible for the most progressive Democratic platform in the history of our country.”

As a Washington Post writer, Chris Cillizza, explained Tuesday, his endorsement speech was declared an endorsement of Clinton’s campaign, but it certainly fell short of Clinton’s usual endorsements.

“The speech today was, ostensibly, an endorsement of Clinton’s presidential campaign. But, really, it wasn’t. Yes, I know that’s how it was billed by the Clinton and Sanders camps. And, yes, he did say this: ‘I have come here to make it as clear as possible as to why I am endorsing Hillary Clinton and why she must become our next president.’ (It was the only time that Sanders used the words ‘endorse’ or ‘endorsing’ in a speech that ran 2,161 words. You can read the whole thing here.)”

Cillizza captured the truth of what Sanders’ endorsement actually was: A public disclosure of the promises she made to his campaign.

“What followed in the speech was a laundry list of Sanders’s talking points and policies supplemented with the phrases ‘Hillary believes’ or ‘Hillary understands’ or ‘Hillary knows’ stuck in front of them.”

The fact that Hillary stood behind Sanders nodding in agreement to countless issues that he has been fighting for for decades, proves that Sanders’ accomplished what he set out to do.

It should be noted that Sanders did not tell any of his supporters what to do. He told his supporters what his campaign’s job has become given that Hillary’s superdelegates aren’t budging and that he was unable to close the pledged delegate gap more significantly than he had hoped.

“Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton president – and I am going to do everything I can to make that happen.”

The issue with so many Bernie supporters is that we came so much closer than any of us once believed possible to getting our man into the White House. It’s a hard pill to swallow, knowing that if any one of the DNC rules had been different, we might have acquired the 2,383 pledged delegates needed to win the nomination. It’s excruciatingly frustrating knowing that if all primaries had been open, if there hadn’t been a media blackout or even if the media had reported truthfully from the start, we could have won the nomination.

Bernie admitted that as it stands, he can’t win the presidency, but even still, he did not suspend his campaign. In fact, he called them in conference calls after the endorsement to ask them to make it to the convention and participate in the roll call as delegates for him.

“This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders, it is not about Hillary Clinton, it is not about anyone else, it is about you,” Sanders said last summer. Why are we suggesting he betrayed us by insisting on Tuesday, as he always has, that this is our movement?

Is it because so many of wanted him to run independently if he couldn’t win the nomination?

If, on Tuesday, he had declared an independent run, the entire platform he negotiated with the Democrats would have collapsed. Keep in mind, the platform victory was better than any victory any of the traditional pundits ever expected he could accomplish. Despite his endorsement, which he made only after it was evident that Hillary would win during the first round of voting at the convention, Sanders still did not suspend his campaign. His 1,900 delegates will still go to the convention and try their hardest to accomplish everything they can.

Bernie fought the DNC until the party platform looked strikingly like his own, and he has pledged to continue to fight for the progressive movement and for the American people. We can probably expect him to continue his fight until he draws his last breath.

Bernie Sanders is no sell-out. A sell-out betrays a cause for personal advancement. Bernie engaged in politics against the establishment for us and won us the promise of almost every end goal he has been fighting for since before many of his supporters were even aware there was a problem.

[Image via Gage Skidmore | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0 | cropped]