Bernie Sanders

NY Times | Bernie Sanders Die-Hards Gather

JUNE 19, 2016

CHICAGO — Ethan Winnett, a 31-year-old from Waukegan, Ill., said that if Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton after his decades as a progressive champion, it would amount to nothing short of “a betrayal of all of his principles.”

Virginia Ramos Rios, 44, who was a Sanders field organizer in California and New York, said it would be a “hard pill to swallow.”

And of their fellow Sanders supporters now throwing their support to Mrs. Clinton? “Disgusting,” said John Flaherty, 63, a retired photographer from Wayland, Mass.

One of the last remaining questions of the Democratic presidential primary season is how many of the 12 million people who voted for Mr. Sanders will back his opponent, Mrs. Clinton, now that she is the presumptive nominee.

And if interviews with about a dozen Sanders supporters who gathered here this weekend are any indication, the “Bernie or Bust” component of his large following will survive past the summer, even if Mr. Sanders eventually endorses Mrs. Clinton.

“He’s been fighting against the 1 percent, and Hillary has become the 1 percent,” said Mr. Winnett, an unemployed computer engineer. “She’s become everything that we’re against.”

Mr. Sanders has yet to concede the nomination, though in a speech streamed live last week to more than 200,000 viewers, he hinted that he might endorse Mrs. Clinton, saying, “The major political task that we face in the next five months is to make certain that Donald Trump is defeated and defeated badly.”

Mr. Sanders’s advisers say that before he throws his support behind Mrs. Clinton, he is seeking assurances that she and the Democratic Party will embrace some of his ideas. Much of his speech was devoted to urging his followers to continue fighting for causes like universal health care, free public college and an end to fracking, regardless of who wins the general election in November.

That happened to be the theme of the gathering this weekend, which was called “The People’s Summit” and drew thousands of people to McCormick Place, a large conference center in Chicago. Against a backdrop of Twister games, Lego sculptures and beanbag throwing contests, they talked about pushing progressive ideals.

The event, which was organized by National Nurses United, a labor union that campaigned heavily for Mr. Sanders, featured discussions about how to encourage like-minded people to run for local offices and to push groups to work together on issues like racial justice, income inequality and electoral changes. One session included discussion of protest methods, using mock sit-ins and arrests, for the Democratic National Convention next month in Philadelphia.

Panels included “The Robin Hood Tax: Challenging Wall Street, Neo-Liberalism and Perpetual Debt” and “Ending Voter Suppression, Mass Incarceration, Deportations and Gender Inequality.”

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