Vermont Sanders delegates reluctantly accept Clinton

Democratic National Convention

Vermont delegates pose at the Democratic National Convention. Photo by Jasper Craven/VTDigger

The four-day Democratic National Convention, which focused on party unity, did not completely succeed in bringing Vermont’s delegates into the fold. Many still cling to Bernie Sanders’ revolution and remain reluctant to vote for the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

Jo Sabel Courtney, a first-time pledged delegate from Stowe, said the convention has been “an emotional journey.”

“I don’t know from one minute to the next what I’m going to feel,” Courtney said.

Courtney felt excluded when she discovered that the DNC’s official program did not mention Sanders. “Not a word,” she said. “Not a word about his contribution (to the party platform), so clearly this was a party planned for Hillary for a long time.”

“I realize that this is a process of bereavement, completely, and that’s five phases,” Courtney said. “I am not at the depression part anymore, but I’m not quite at acceptance.”

Acceptance for Courtney is about much more than voting for Clinton. She wants to feel energized about helping elect progressive candidates for state, local and federal offices. She also feels obliged to find a way to hold Clinton accountable for maintaining her commitment to the progressive platform.

“I’m trying to get my menu of why I can start thinking about voting for her,” Courtney said.

Brian Pine, a first-time pledged delegate from Burlington, said the convention has been “an emotional roller coaster.” Pine wanted Sanders to be the Democratic nominee, but despite his disappointment that Clinton won out, he is committed to helping her beat Trump in the November election.

“The healing process is still underway,” he said. “I didn’t come to this process to be a supporter and an activist to Hillary Clinton, that’s not why I got involved. And I’m still making that transition.”

Pine said he enjoyed seeing the Democratic Party in all its diversity.

“What Bernie brought to the process is to bring additional voices to the process that are often forgotten,” he said.

The progressive movement, he said, will survive the convention. “Struggle takes the long view. It doesn’t begin and end with an election cycle,” Pine said.

Clinton may not be ideal, Pine said, but she is far better than Donald Trump.

“There are many, many very ardent, vocal Bernie supporters, and they’re in the streets, and they’re making it known and I totally feel their pain,” he said. “And yet, at the same time, I think there’s a certain amount of privilege that goes with that because the impact of a Donald Trump presidency will be disproportionately felt by people who are in the bottom and I think that we need to keep it in mind.”

Rep. Kevin Christie, D-Windsor, who participated in the 2008 and 2012 Democratic conventions, said Sanders moved him. “To see and be part of Bernie’s rise and him picking up the mantle of the movement, you know, it has been monumental,” he said.

He said the Sanders legacy would continue beyond the convention, though members of the movement may take time to grieve.

“You need to listen to what Bernie said,” Christie said. “This is not over. There might be a little lull because it’s an emotional lull, but we’re going back to work. And it might take a different form, but the work is going to go on.”

“I hope that other people use their vote well,” he said. “And I don’t mean saying that they have to vote the way I vote. They have to feel really good in their conscience that they’re doing, you know, the right thing. Because this, like we heard from the president last night, is probably the most important election in our lifetime.”

Liora Engel-Smith

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