Sanders' DNC Speech Was Unusually Gracious, Says Longtime Observer

Jul 27, 2016

The Democratic National Convention has seen a second night of rousing speeches in efforts to unify the party and rally around Hillary Clinton, now the official Democratic nominee for president and the first woman ever to hold that designation in U.S. history.

In a tight race with Republican nominee Donald Trump, many political observers feel the followers of Bernie Sanders may ultimately decide Clinton's fate, if they can be persuaded to support Clinton in large enough numbers come November.

University of Vermont professor of of politics and political behavior Garrison Nelson called Sanders' speech unusually gracious.

"For Bernie, who's not been known to be a gracious loser back of the days when he was at Liberty Union candidate getting 1, 2, 3 percent of the vote, but this time he was. His speech, I thought, was very statesman-like. And frankly, had it not been Donald Trump, I'm not sure would have been quite as statesman-like," Nelson said.  

Nelson says if Hillary Clinton was facing a Republican opponent that Sanders could live with, he might not have been so positive.

But the questions remains whether the so-called Bernie-or-Busters will support Hillary Clinton.

"The hardcore, you're not going to turn them around. But then again there are people who kind of root for defeat, and have this kind of fantasy that somehow by making conditions worse you increase the consciousness of the population," Nelson said. "The pretty oppressed people aren't going to vote for Trump because Trump's a bigot. But they may sit it out, and if they sit out they're going to be going to cost Hillary maybe two points. And two points might make the difference in a race this close."

Nelson thinks Sanders supporters who are considering voting for Trump aren't listening to Sanders' message.

"Or aren't listening to Trump's message which is xenophobia and white nationalism," he said. "Frankly, these people want conditions to get worse. I guess then you could vote for Donald Trump. That is remarkably self-defeating and terms of their overall goals in terms of bringing about change."