Sanders voters remain faithful

EPPS professor Euel Elliot credits the continued support for Bernie Sanders as a fundamental split between traditional Democrats and party outliers. Photo by Andrew Gallegos | Photo Editor.

At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton was named the party’s presidential nominee. Some Bernie Sanders supporters, however, are not giving up the fight.

As Clinton’s campaign accepts large donations from corporate sources and billionaires, Sanders supporter UTD Democratic Socialist President Nicholas St. John said he questions what interests Clinton serves.

“I think Hillary Clinton is a liar and she’ll say anything to get elected,” he said. “I have a hard time believing she means what she’s actually been saying.”

St. John is an ardent Sanders supporter and was in Philadelphia during the DNC. He said he believes Sanders is a man of integrity. He views Clinton as the opposite.

“It’s hard to go from somebody that you can trust every word they say to somebody that you know is just another corporate puppet,” he said.

Voters, like St. John, express unwavering dedication to Sanders on social media, deploying hashtags like NeverClinton, NeverHillary, and circulating petitions that ask visitors to promise to never vote for Clintion.

Euel Elliott, political science professor and associate dean of undergraduate studies in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, said he believes Clinton’s strengths can also be viewed as weaknesses.

“The fact that she is a woman clearly makes a difference for some folks,” Elliott said. “I think her obvious connection to Bill Clinton, who in the view of most people had a successful administration in spite of some of the problems he had toward the very end. I think because her position as secretary of state, people perceive her as having that kind of competence … some people are looking for. On the other hand, there’s going to be people that look at that very same set of facts and say, ‘That’s why we’re looking for someone else.’”

Although Clinton and Sanders represent the Democratic Party electorate, Elliott said he believes Sanders supporters’ reasons for being bearish on Clinton are straightforward.

“I think fundamentally the Clinton-Sanders contest was a split between Sanders, the Populist, and Hillary, the more mainstream and traditional Democrat,” he said.

Elliott said Sanders supporters are also reluctant to get on board with Clinton due to what she seemingly represents.

“In terms of the Clinton-Sanders contest, I think an awful lot of Democrats see Hillary as being part of that elite stratum who have somewhat become divorced from the concerns of the middle class, working class individuals and the underclass,” he said. “They believe there simply is this disconnect between the economic, cultural and political elites and the rest of us.”

Elliott said he acknowledges how politics are played and how traditional politics have led to Clinton being labeled as distrustful. Also, he said Clinton’s public speaking style can be viewed as disingenuous.

“I think it probably comes from this historical tendency on her part to try to tailor her message to the particular group to which she’s addressing at a particular moment in time,” he said. “All politicians probably try to tailor their message in a certain way toward particular audiences, but I think in her case, whether fairly or unfairly, she’s seen as being (more) egregious in that regard than others.”

Elliott said Sanders is probably guilty of the same tendencies from time to time, but that his messages were steadier.

“Although I can’t recall specific instances when he tried to tailor the responses, but I think he’s probably more consistent. I’m sure he did to some extent but I think one of the appealing things about Sanders is he basically provided the same basic message to everybody,” Elliott said.

Elliot said he believes when polling stations open in November, most Sanders supporters will cast their votes for Clinton.

“I think the overwhelming percentage number of Sanders supporters will end up voting for her,” he said. “Either way they will vote for her or they will end up staying home.”

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