Bernie Sanders has sharp elbows. I know – I used to play basketball with him in Vermont. He’s a tough opponent who never, ever gives up.
Sharp elbows are even more useful in politics than in basketball, and Bernie has used them, gently, on Hillary Clinton. As it becomes clear that he will probably not be the nominee, he shows no signs of letting up. Don’t expect him to.
In Vermont in the 1970s, Bernie was a perennial candidate for state office – he ran for governor, the Senate and Congress before (barely) being elected mayor of Burlington. His persistence was remarkable, not just because he never gave up, but because his message was heartfelt and consistent: He was determined to change an economy and government that served the wealthy. He is still running on the same platform, and the events of the last thirty years have proven his critique to be pretty much right on target.
In the 1970s, Bernie Sanders’ name could have been the punchline in a Vermont joke: who will be running for president in 2016? Bernie…ha! Well, the joke’s on us.
I don’t think Bernie expected to win the presidency this year. But I also don’t think he expects to lose, even now. For Bernie, winning is about changing minds, about reframing the debate, about opening the door to the kind of change he believes in so strongly. Sometimes leaders don’t get to walk through the doors they open, but if we can build a more fair and democratic country in the next ten or twenty years, we’ll owe a debt of gratitude to Bernie Sanders’ persistence.
Bernie has already won. Now it’s up to all of us to push the door the rest of the way open, push Hillary Clinton through it, and demand real change.
Sharpen your elbows.