On Tuesday, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — some might say "finally" — endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential bid. I won't deny that I'm disappointed, and a lot of other Sanders supporters are, too. But the fact of the matter is that Sanders' campaign has never just been about him, and we must seek pathways both within and outside the system as we move forward. We tend to throw the term "revolution" around a bit too freely; there is nothing revolutionary about another old white man becoming president. What would be revolutionary is a pursuit of social, political, and economic justice on the national, state, and local levels, and that is what we must continue to pursue.
Let's rid ourselves of the illusion that we owe the Democratic Party something. If anything, the Democrats need to actually start listening to the voices of marginalized people who have insisted that they are not adequately working for our liberation. Sanders' campaign, and this election more generally, has not just been about improving the Democratic Party — it has been about propelling progressive ideals into a more public space. Sanders may have endorsed Clinton, but we can't give up on the ideas that he — and more importantly, a number of organizers who supported him — proposed.
Going forward, let's keep the energy of the past 15 months alive. I request that my fellow Sanders supporters show up for the causes we care about even when it's not an election year, and even when Sanders isn't the one leading the charge. Keep demanding a $15 minimum wage, and an affordable college education. Keep demanding a better, more accessible health care system, and an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Keep fighting for black and brown lives, because the current system isn't broken — it's doing exactly what it was designed to do, and that's not acceptable. Keep voting for progressive candidates down-ballot, so we can challenge injustice on the state and local levels, too.
Will you show up on the streets when a white man isn't proposing a revolution? Will you help build a system in which we are not restricted to two parties, neither of which is serving those who are most marginalized in this country? Now is the time to start doing these things, if you aren't already. We also have progressive alternatives to Clinton and Trump, like the Green Party's Jill Stein, in case you feel like you don't have any remaining options. After all, this movement has never been about Sanders, and his endorsement of Clinton should not change that. If Sanders was the only thing motivating you to fight for justice, then you need to reevaluate why that is, because there is so much that needs to be done.
Various marginalized populations in this country have been saying for a long time that we cannot achieve justice and liberation by operating within the system alone. Even while he was running as a Democratic candidate, Sanders still ran a fairly grassroots campaign. This is critical: While we should certainly work to elect officials who fight against the preservation of the status quo, we should also seek alternatives to oppressive institutions that try to govern our lives. Moving forward, Sanders supporters — and anyone else who wants to see genuine progressive change — need to make it abundantly clear that politicians should serve us, not the other way around.