Column: Sanders should concede Democratic nomination to Clinton

In order to keep Trump out of the White House, Sanders needs to give up his candidacy before his supporters become even more anti-Clinton.

The 2016 presidential race began last year with 23 candidates: 17 Republicans and six Democrats. Now there are three candidates, but the field is about to narrow down to the final two.

The Associated Press announced Monday night that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had received enough delegates to become the presumptive Democratic nominee. Her rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, immediately criticized the media for its “rush to judgment,” arguing that the nomination isn’t official until superdelegates vote for either candidate in July at the Democratic National Convention. The vast majority are expected to vote for Clinton, but Sanders hopes to convince enough of them to vote for him instead.

Clinton is still in the lead even without superdelegates, and it would take a miracle for Sanders to garner enough superdelegate support to win the nomination in the next month and a half. His efforts are likely to not only fail but also increase his supporters’ distaste for Clinton. Polls already indicate that a sizable chunk of Sanders supporters would choose presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump over Clinton if left to choose between only those two. Continuing to campaign against Clinton could help Trump secure victory in November, so Sanders should concede the nomination to his opponent.

At the moment, he and his camp are so determined to beat Clinton that they have lost sight of the danger that is Trump, who recently drew Republican ire for saying a judge of Mexican descent shouldn’t preside over a case against him. Trump also called the legal system “rigged” when the case didn’t go his way. Sanders has alarmingly sounded just like Trump recently, claiming that the election system works deliberately against him because he has won several primaries but isn’t beating Clinton. Playing the victim and denying the reality of Clinton’s lead is childish and has already caused trouble within the Democratic Party.

In May, when the Nevada Democratic State convention allocated more delegates to Clinton than Sanders, his supporters became violent, threatening the party’s chairwoman and vandalizing its headquarters. Sanders released a statement that condemned the violence but also denied that his campaign had any role in creating it. He also accused the Nevada Democratic Party of malpractice.

This is not the same Bernie Sanders whose rally I attended three months ago. The peaceful, hopeful atmosphere he used to foster has disintegrated into one of anxiety, hostility and entitlement. The immaturity that he and his supporters are demonstrating obscures his campaign’s noble goals of combating income inequality and climate change.

Part of Sanders’ argument for why he should be the nominee is the fact that he has consistently beaten Trump in general election polls throughout the primary season. Clinton’s lead over Trump in those polls has narrowed, and he has even pulled ahead of her in some. The Democratic Party is in a tough position, with polling saying its frontrunner less likely to beat her GOP opponent than the underdog is. But since the underdog won’t win, it’s up to him to convince his supporters to back Clinton. She may not be the ideal candidate, since she hid the truth about her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state, but her flaws pale in comparison to Trump’s. Additionally, she has decades of political experience while Trump doesn’t even have a full year.

Sanders needs to tell his supporters that Clinton is not the lesser of two evils, but rather a competent politician who deserves to defeat Trump. They probably won’t listen immediately due to their disappointment, but Sanders should keep encouraging them until they comply. The Democratic Party cannot win the election with lukewarm support against a Republican candidate who enthusiastically brings out the worst in the American public and whose party is still more opposed to Clinton than it is to Trump’s incendiary words and actions.

Hopefully, Sanders will come to understand soon that he needs to give up his candidacy in order to keep Trump out of the White House. His withdrawal from the race would benefit the entire country, not just the Democratic Party. He’s had a great run, but it’s time for him to let go of his dream of the presidency.

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