Political alliances have long adhered to the ancient proverb that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders took that approach when he endorsed political rival Hillary Clinton as a tactic for keeping Donald Trump out of the White House.
But that has created a disconnect for some Sanders supporters at BYU who don’t believe Clinton can represent their values.
“To me, his ideas are more universally agreeable, intellectually nuanced and ideologically moderate than that of any other candidate,” said Hank Hansen, a sophomore in graphic design from Hamden, Connecticut. “His ideas aren’t built on impulse or on political identification, but on the genuine belief that a government should care for the people.”
Graphic Design junior Olivia Moua, from Milwaukee, said she felt Sanders was more consistent in what he stood for.
The longevity and resilience of Sanders’ campaign was a shock to many political analysts around the nation, who predicted Sanders would not last long against more established politicians like the Clinton family.
Despite the fact that he was often critical of Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail, Sanders outlined the many points of policy that he and Clinton agree on. He also strongly condemned Trump, saying that a Trump presidency would quickly undo the social and economic progress achieved during the Obama administration.
Despite the disappointment that came with the conclusion of what Sanders called his “political revolution,” many Sanders supporters agree that there is political wisdom in this endorsement. Both Hansen and Moua said that for Sanders supporters, the best way forward is a vote for Hillary Clinton.
“I don’t like that he is supporting her, but it makes sense politically,” Moua said. “We don’t want to vote for anyone else, but you have to take what you can get.”
Hansen, who sees Sanders’ endorsement as a formality with little meaning, also suggested that Clinton is the lesser of the evils. “An endorsement like Bernie’s is just political etiquette,” Hansen said. “I don’t think (Clinton) truly represents my interests as a liberal, but, I mean, the alternative is so much worse.”
In the minds of some voters who supported Sanders, a vote against Trump is equally as important, perhaps even more, than a vote for Clinton. Third-party candidate Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party will be on the Utah ballot and Jill Stein of the Green Party is currently fighting for a place on that ballot, but there is always the possibility that a vote for these candidates could siphon away votes from Hillary Clinton and thereby prove beneficial for Donald Trump.
“If you’re asking which candidate best represents the values that Bernie supporters adhere to, then I’d say the best option is Jill Stein,” Hansen said. “But Jill Stein will never gain enough ground to win the election. A vote for Hillary is the safest option for the disappointed Bernie fan.”
Clinical psychology graduate student Sean Aaron, from Orem, has faith that the majority of disappointed Bernie fans will make a rational decision with their ballots. According to Aaron, the “Bernie or bust” attitude that some disappointed Bernie fans have clutched onto is not going to be productive.
“Although I’ve heard some jaded Bernie supporters adopt a frightening “let the whole system burn down” attitude, I think most of his supporters will find the next best candidate,” Aaron said. “They shouldn’t jump ship and vote for a candidate who holds nothing in common with the man they were supporting.”