It’s tough to write this since I owe so much to you. Working for you was my first job out of college. What more could an idealistic young polisci major ask for but to work in the U.S. Senate for someone he believed in so much? It was an awesome job on an awesome staff; To this day, 10 years later, I am still good friends with many former Bernie staffers.When you said you were running for president, I’ll admit at first I was amused. I spoke to my fellow Bernie alumni about it. Best case scenario, we thought, you would get out there and raise awareness on some important issues. We chuckled, putting ourselves in the shoes of your poor staffers who have to implement your campaign vision. That was once us.
And then, you started winning and raising huge amounts of money, enough to go toe to toe with the Clinton machine. You defied expectations everywhere. At first I thought, “Yeah! Good for you for shaking things up, making these corporate Democrats nervous.” I was on board. I was feeling the Bern…
But it wasn’t enough. Clinton amassed a huge lead in both the popular vote and the delegate game. At this point she leads you by 3 million votes, and when California votes on June 7, she will in all likelihood win the state and get enough delegates to secure the nomination.
Meanwhile, the GOP lost their goddam minds and nominated Mussolini 2.0. Donald Trump is truly a historic candidate; never in history has there been a man so unprepared and dangerous to be president. It is frightening to imagine what that thin-skinned vulgarian would do as the custodian of our nation’s nuclear arsenal.
I can understand you staying in the race through California. After all, Clinton hasn’t secured this thing yet. But after California votes, and she reaches her delegate threshold, I REALLY hope you take account of the situation, pat yourself on the back for getting Clinton to move to your position on Social Security, Trade, and Healthcare, and help her defeat the forces of angry authoritarian demagoguery.
In the meantime, it would be really great if you didn’t poison the well against Clinton and Democrats in general. It’s not helping us in November and it’s definitely not moving us any closer to your policy goals for a more just and equitable society. I cannot believe you would be so desperate as to agree to debate Trump as the runner up in the campaign. Clinton did not attempt to debate McCain in 2008 while she was behind Obama.
Contrary to many of your most diehard supporters, I don’t believe you have been treated unfairly. The rules are the rules. If you didn’t know them going into the primary, you should have. You were not outraised or outspent; you were able to raise a ton of money to get your message out. You made some beautiful campaign ads that brought tears to my eyes. And yet, the reality remains that you trail Clinton by 3 million votes. If you weren’t able to sell free healthcare and college tuition for all to the most liberal segment of our country, Democratic primary voters, then I’m sorry; America’s not ready.
You owe it to your supporters who have staked their hopes on you, not to let them succumb to dangerous nihilistic indifference in November, but to turn out in droves to defeat the real threat to the future of this country that is Donald Trump. You owe it to them to help Clinton bring about the future that you profess to care so much about: A Future to Believe In is your own slogan.
So, when June 7 is over, please be an adult. Dust yourself off and JOIN us to defeat the radical forces that threaten to throw us all into the abyss. That’s my only ask.
Seth Engel worked for Bernie Sanders from June 2006 to June 2009 on his campaign and senate staff