Vermont Senator and not-presumptive nominee Bernie Sanders has told us over and over again that he was staying in this race until the "last vote is counted" — meaning, until the Washington D.C. Democratic primary on June 14. Unfortunately for Sanders, that was Tuesday — and he lost in a big way, earning just 21.1 percent of the popular vote. In the wake of the primary, Sanders and Clinton had a long meeting, after which he praised her campaign. Sanders even released a statement on his website that highlighted their common goals, but still declined to endorse her or drop out.
I hate to be that person, Sen. Sanders, but now is kind of the time to leave. The Vermont senator's staunch and uncompromising line to justify staying in the race was that he wanted to give Americans the chance to vote for the candidate of their choice. And now they have — the Democratic primary season is over.
In the last week or so, I've noticed that there has been something of a softening in the Sanders' camp's language — slightly less "we're gonna fight this thing," slightly more nods to Clinton's presence in the general. But this has mostly been so subtle it's easy to second-guess yourself and think you're imagining it. Take this passage from his statement about the meeting with Clinton:
Sanders congratulated Secretary Clinton on the campaign she has run and said he appreciated her strong commitment to stopping Trump in the general election.
That kinda sounds like he's acknowledging that Clinton, and not he himself, will indeed be taking on Trump in November. Read it again, though, and you could just chalk it up to Sanders saying that Clinton just wants Trump to be stopped somehow, which is something you don't even have to be in this race to do.
The statement goes on to say that the two will work together to "develop a progressive agenda that addresses the needs of working families and the middle class and adopting a progressive platform for the Democratic National Convention." Again, that could be interpreted as Sanders leveraging his remaining popularity to push Clinton, as the inevitable nominee, to the left, but could also just mean... they are liberals who sometimes have stuff in common.
I understood — and mostly supported — why Sanders didn't drop out before June 14. However, now, I see every passing day he denies Clinton her earned place as the sole Democratic presidential candidate as an additional day he risks compromising party unity for an all-but-evaporated reason. Sanders wanted to make sure people had the option of voting for him if they wanted to. But those people have now all voted — and they chose Clinton.
Image: Bustle/Caroline Wurtzel