Full disclosure: I am a Hillary Clinton supporter. She is eminently qualified to hold the office of the presidency given her many decades of accomplished public service. I have supported her candidacy since she announced that she was running last year and continue to do so with no reservations.

That being said, if Bernie Sanders were to become the nominee, he would happily have my vote in the general election as well. He has a tremendous amount of experience and has been just as passionate as Clinton about fixing the issues that plague our country.

While I believe Clinton is the better candidate, one who has been thoroughly vetted over her career, I would much sooner vote for any candidate who holds Democratic values over a candidate like Donald Trump. One need only look at this list of insults to see what kind of president he would be. Trump has insulted Democrats, Republicans, our allies abroad, our president and everyone in between. To put it generously, a Trump presidency would be an unmitigated disaster for our country.

That knowledge is what is most frightening about a group of individuals using the hashtags #BernieorBust and #NeverHillary. It seems that the greater good of the United States is being sacrificed at the altar of ideological grandstanding. That is why I would like to address a couple of the concerns of that group and encourage them to come on board with the Clinton campaign if she becomes the nominee– and continue using that passion to elect a Democrat in November.

The most common rationale I see and hear is that the Democratic Party has not been fair to Sanders in his primary race. Sanders chose to become a formal member of the party only a year ago. He did his research and strongly considered all of his options, including running as an independent. Running as a Democrat has given him the resources and the infrastructure necessary to mount a meaningful run and those tools have allowed him to give Clinton a run for her money.

Sure, there are people in the party who have supported her candidacy, some in positions of power, though that was unavoidable given how intricately connected she and her family are to Democrats. Sanders has offered a compelling message which has been broadcast loud and clear thanks to the party. He has been on all of the same ballots, been a part of every debate, and given every advantage that Clinton has. And this despite the fact that Sanders has never done anything to support the party or its candidates over the years. As a result, his treatment seems more than fair.

I also see people suggesting that, by staying home on election day or voting for a third party, they will intentionally help elect Trump in an attempt to destroy our entire political system, or at least encourage the formation of two more major national parties.

In my experience, the people who make this argument are liberal millennials who are both white and male. In other words, regardless of their political leanings, they are the exact and only people who could easily weather a Trump presidency. I would ask those people to consider African-Americans, Latinos, women, Muslims, and every other group that would suffer the catastrophic consequences of a Trump victory. Four years is more than enough time to eradicate the gains that have been made in improving health care and stabilizing the economy. Whether or not you agree with Clinton on every issue, it should be clear that she

wouldn’t attempt to build an impossible wall on the Mexican border or try to make America great again by setting race relations back 50 years.

It is good that Sanders has chosen to stay in the race until the convention. That decision has allowed debate to flourish and will ultimately help every member of our party find common ground when it comes time to craft our platform in July. I also hope to see him stay in our party when this race is over. He has some great ideas about how to improve our country and his skills as a fundraiser would be invaluable to help more progressives be elected at every level of government.

In asking the #BernieorBust crowd to vote for Clinton should she win the nomination, I am not asking to put aside your ideals or principles. I am simply asking you to support the party that Sanders joined by voting for the Democratic nominee in November. As a progressive politician, Sanders recognizes that another Republican in the White House, especially one with the most regressive views we have seen in a generation, is something that would irreparably damage the country.

The threat to the progress towards equality for all people should outweigh our differences. We may have different strategies (or take different paths) to get there, but our common goal as Democrats is to strengthen our nation by creating opportunity for every person in America. That must not be forgotten on Election Day.

Tharon Johnson is an Atlanta-based Democratic Party strategist.


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