The 2016 election cycle has been a long road for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, but on Tuesday afternoon, he and his wife Jane cast their votes for president, with Sanders tweeting "I hope today we defeat Donald Trump and we defeat him badly." It was a bittersweet final word from Sanders on a campaign that saw the fringe left Senator — who wasn’t even a registered Democrat before seeking the party’s nomination — become the head of a movement that challenged the core of the Democratic Party.
Voting in his hometown of Burlington, Vt., Sanders spoke to reporters outside his polling place, going after the GOP candidate for questioning the “very fabric of our democracy.”
“I've run in elections and I've lost them, that's the way it is," Sanders said. "If you win, that's great, but you don't try to undermine democracy and tell your backers the system is rigged because you lost the election.
“I hope we can go on beyond this and I hope that we can start as a nation focusing on the very serious issues that face this country,” he added.
Sanders had just finished an intense 12-state swing of campaigning in support of his former opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Clinton and Sanders had a vigorous primary, which at some points got rather heated, though for the most part their contest was considered civil compared with the slug-fest that was the Republican nominating contest.
Still, many Sanders supporters believed that the Democratic National Committee was deep in Clinton’s pocket, and various WikiLeaks dumps throughout the general election seemed to reinforce those concerns. Nevertheless, despite dragging his heels a bit, Sanders ultimately conceded to Clinton and campaigned robustly on her behalf, hoping to deliver the support of younger voters who had been drawn to the Socialist Senator’s campaign.
At times, Sanders appeared to be campaigning more against Trump rather than for Clinton, even as his speeches have been geared towards getting out the vote for the Democratic candidate.
“We’re going to demand that Donald Trump and his billionaire friends, that corporate America, that Wall Street start paying their fair share” of taxes, Sanders said at a rally at the College of Southern Nevada on Sunday. “Hillary Clinton and [Democratic Senate nominee] Catherine [Cortez Masto] will win if the voter turnout is high, they will lose if it’s low.”
“Your job is to give us the highest voter turnout we have ever seen," he concluded. If Clinton is victorious on Tuesday, it will be in no small part thanks to Sanders' efforts.