Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley is a proud and vocal supporter of Bernie Sanders. He has been on various news shows saying exactly why he thinks Sanders would be a good President, and he makes some excellent points on behalf of the Democratic contender. So it seems more than a bit unusual for Senator Merkley to tell a reporter from MSNBC that Democratic unity will begin after today’s primaries. As Alex Seitz-Wald noted on Twitter this morning:
Sanders-backer Sen. Jeff Merkley: that "Unity is going to begin today as soon as the polls close." https://t.co/AjUpZEgXTD
— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) June 7, 2016
Other elected officials who have been supporting Sanders–among them Reps. Keith Ellison and Raúl Grijalva–have also indicated that one the votes are counted this evening, and Hillary Clinton is named the presumptive nominee, they also intend to do what’s best for the party and shift their allegiance to Clinton. And this shouldn’t surprise anyone in the least. Keep in mind these elected representatives are all registered Democrats, and their temporary fling with the Vermont Senator, an Independent, ends once a nominee is clearly in sight.
There are also signs within the Sanders camp that many top-level aides know the race is its final stage. It has been reported that high-level advisors and even close friends and family of Senator Sanders are “somber” because they realize Sanders will not be the Democratic nominee.
Additionally, chatter continues suggesting Sanders will hold a press conference on Thursday or Friday of this week and formally suspend his campaign, saying he endorses Clinton and urging his supporters to do the same.
On social media this week, there has been talk among some die-hard Sanders supporters saying that if Sanders is not the nominee, they will instead vote for Donald Trump. Some have dubbed these people “Bernie or busters.” Certainly there will be great disappointment among many voters who have poured their hearts and souls into the Sanders campaign. But someone who calls themselves a progressive and then turns around and votes for Trump doesn’t exactly have much of a claim to actually being a progressive.
Every Democrat and progressive worth his or her salt should thank Bernie Sanders for raising some incredibly important issues–campaign finance reform, the environment, a living wage instead of a minimum wage–and he will always be admired and respected among the entire progressive community in this country. But if he continues to press his case and insists on calling for a contested Democratic convention, much of the goodwill he has built up could be destroyed overnight.
After tonight, there will only be one question remaining for Bernie Sanders to answer: Does he become part of the movement to make sure Donald Trump never becomes President, or does he help guarantee just the opposite?