​​​Posted 8th September 2016

The offer that couldn't be refused?

​​One of the biggest surprises in recent US politics has been the sudden volt-face in Bernie Sanders’ position in the 2016 Presidential election campaign. For months up to the end of the Primaries, he remained adamant that he would take the contest with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination to the Party Convention. Then, despite the continued massive popular support he enjoyed throughout the country and the ongoing investigation into vote rigging and the revelations of total bias in favour of Mrs Clinton by the DNC, which had played such a part in giving Mrs Clinton the majority she needed prior to the Convention, inexplicably, Sanders capitulated. He endorsed Clinton in terms far too glowing, given the differences that existed in their platforms and his knowledge and previously stated opinion of her, promising to throw his weight behind the campaign to elect her and keep Donald Trump out of the White House. 

Admittedly, he had managed to get the Party to accept a few of his objectives onto the Democratic manifesto but mere words and promises are notoriously sidelined once the Presidency has been secured. What makes it almost incomprehensible is that Sanders could have maintained his place in the race by accepting Jill Stein’s invitation to collaborate - even to be the Green Party candidate. She stated her willingness to step aside for him, representing as he did a movement with aims closely resembling those of her own party. The vast majority of Bernie Sanders’ supporters would almost certainly have moved with him and, united, they would have represented a formidable challenge to both the mainstream parties. More than that, they would have constituted a credible and palatable alternative for many Republican voters who could not and still cannot see themselves voting for Trump. Importantly, they would also have established themselves as a substantial third party presence, not owned by any large corporation, that could have permanently changed the landscape of politics in America.

And yet, when the time came, his supporters were left without a leader and their most fervent hopes and ambitions were dashed. In different circumstances, one might have concluded that promises had been made and Sanders would be slotted for Vice President or a senior role in a Clinton government. The former is not the case and the latter seems highly unlikely. Likely instead is that a very different picture was painted for him and a wise man puts his own well-being and that of his family above all else. A desperately sad day for the USA.

Nigel Austin 

author of The Robin Gibson series