When Bernie Sanders launched his presidential campaign over a year ago, he acknowledged at the time that he would support the Democratic Party's nominee, no matter what. The Vermont senator probably couldn't have predicted what would unfold in the months that followed -- or the burgeoning progressive movement he'd help lead -- but Sanders proved today he's a man of his word.
"It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues. That's what this campaign has been about. That's what democracy is about. But I am happy to tell you that at the Democratic Platform Committee which ended Sunday night in Orlando, there was a significant coming together between the two campaigns and we produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party. Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton president -- and I am going to do everything I can to make that happen. "I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. I remember her as a great first lady who broke precedent in terms of the role that a first lady was supposed to play as she helped lead the fight for universal health care. I served with her in the United States Senate and know her as a fierce advocate for the rights of children." "Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here today."
His remarks were unequivocal: Sanders not only acknowledged that Clinton won the nominating process legitimately, he made the transition from focusing on defeating Donald Trump to electing Hillary Clinton. Whereas the senator has said for months that the Republican must not be elected, this morning, Sanders said Clinton "must become our next president." Whereas he used to say he'd do everything he could to make sure Trump loses, Sanders said today, "I intend to do everything I can to make certain [Clinton] will be the next president of the United States."
It's likely that many watching thought about the tensions that emerged between the two candidates during their lengthy nominating fight, and the senator acknowledged that, too: "I have come here today not to talk about the past but to focus on the future."
As the event unfolded, it was hard not to notice the striking differences between the parties.
In Republican politics, Jeb Bush told MSNBC yesterday he's not even going to vote in the presidential election; John Kasich doesn't want to attend his party's national convention in his now home state; Ted Cruz will speak at the convention but still doesn't want to endorse his party's nominee; and Paul Ryan seems to publicly rebuke Trump on a nearly weekly basis.
It's against this backdrop that we occasionally hear rumblings about a convention coup; a variety of GOP voices declare their "Never Trump" status with pride, and a lawsuit about Republican delegates' ability to vote their conscience is making headlines.
And then there are Democrats, who had a challenging nominating process, but who are now uniting with relative ease. Sanders made a strong showing, and expected some policy concessions, most of which Clinton and Democrats accepted -- which is pretty much how this game is supposed to be played.
In early June, Bloomberg Politics' Francis Wilkinson had a piece
, "One American Political Party Works," with ongoing relevance.
President Barack Obama handed the political baton to Hillary Clinton today, with an endorsement that was telegraphed before the 2016 presidential campaign even began.... This transition is structured, anticipated, consistent, orderly and boring. Which is one way of saying that the Democratic Party is a coherent, well-functioning political institution that bears little resemblance to the cascading disasters that define the Republican Party and yielded Donald Trump as its likely presidential nominee.
Wilkinson concluded, "The Democratic Party has problems (see: working class, white). It has factions that are not satisfied with the status quo (see Bernie bros). But it's basically a properly functioning political party performing the duties it's designed to perform. Not everything in American politics is a mess."