Over the course of this election season, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders turned a long-shot gamble on the presidency into a national movement that swept up millions of primarily young voters who, now faced with the stark reality that he will not be the Democratic nominee, had to answer the question: What comes next?
Despite mounting pressure to exit the race – President Barack Obama endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shortly after meeting with Sanders at the White House on Thursday morning – Sanders has said that he will compete in the Tuesday primary in Washington, D.C.
And at a Sanders rally hours later in Washington, throngs of supporters – still armed with “Feel the Bern” T-shirts and hand-painted signs – acknowledged that it likely would be former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton facing off against Republican nominee Donald Trump in the general election. But didn’t mean that they were happy about it. Or that they planned to vote for her come November.
Eileen Waugh, a 31-year-old teacher who lives in Richmond, Va., isn’t sure whether she’ll vote in November, reluctant to endorse a candidate whom she doesn’t trust, but hesitant that Trump could take the office.
I would never have thought I would boycott this process, but I would consider it if the only options we have are Clinton and Trump.
Eileen Waugh, voter and Sanders supporter
“It’s turned into quite a political circus,” she said. “I would never have thought I would boycott this process, but I would consider it if the only options we have are Clinton and Trump.”
Sanders gave no sign of relenting at the rally, which was held outside of RFK Stadium, reiterating the main points that he has repeated again and again this election: The rich hold all the money, and all the power.
In the crowd, some of his supporters were more resigned. If it came down to a race between Clinton and Trump, they said they’d vote for Clinton – because Trump would be worse.
“The key for me is keeping Donald Trump out of the presidency,” said Lindsay Taylor, a 40-year-old Alexandria, Va., resident. “You know, unfortunately, I’ll have to follow whichever movement has the better chance of beating him, whether or not that’s Bernie Sanders or Hillary.
“I don’t want to vote for Hillary, I don’t care for her very much,” she said, “but that’s what I would have to do.”
I don’t want to vote for Hillary; I don’t care for her very much. But that’s what I would have to do.
Lindsay Taylor, voter and Sanders supporter
The realization that there was almost no mathematical possibility for Sanders to become the nominee was what moved Anthony Hurst, 39, of D.C.’s Columbia Heights community, to decide he would vote for Clinton in the district’s primary next Tuesday, and in the general election in November.
“I like (Sanders) a lot,” he said. “I wish he would have won.”
But now Hurst, like many others in the Democratic Party, wants the party to unify and move on before the general election really begins by agreeing to vote for Clinton.
“Sometimes you gotta be practical,” he said. “I’m not against her. I like her most of the time.”