Today Bernie Sanders has officially declared his support for Hillary Clinton, his former competitor for the Democratic presidential nomination. In a prepared speech in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, he acknowledged that he did not have the delegates, bound or unbound, to win the nomination. Now he's going to support Clinton and the Democrats in their fight against Donald Trump.
His speech was full of Sanders' typical bromides about income inequality, the evil one-percenters that are keeping the rest of us down, and free college. The speech was also, importantly, a get-out-the-vote rally. Clinton is a deeply unpopular political candidate in voters' eyes, and part of Sanders' speech was to remind progressives who are not fans of the woman what was at stake:
This election is about which candidate will nominate Supreme Court justices who are prepared to overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision which allows billionaires to buy elections and undermine our democracy; about who will appoint new justices on the Supreme Court who will defend a woman's right to choose, the rights of the LGBT community, workers' rights, the needs of minorities and immigrants, and the government's ability to protect the environment.
If you don't believe this election is important, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump will nominate, and what that means to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country.
Read his full speech here. While Sanders failed to land the nomination, he and his supporters have—for better or ill—helped shape the direction of the Democratic Party. Clinton has relented and agreed to support a $15 minimum wage, and the party has made it part of its official platform. Clinton has also, after focusing primarily on reducing college debt, announced a plan for free college tuition for households with incomes below a certain threshold, though she did not indicate how she would pay for such a plan.
For somebody who was not going to get nominated, Sanders has managed to influence the party in significant ways. Yes, Clinton is ahead in the polls, but the party has to be thinking about how disenchanting she is as a candidate and whether or not voters—especially young voters, Sanders' biggest support bloc—are going to come out for her in November.