Sanders backers unsure about Clinton

Bankole Thompson
The Detroit News

Hillary Clinton in a video address delivered July 16 at the annual conference of Netroots Nation in St. Louis, Missouri, pledged to a largely skeptical audience that supported her primary season rival Bernie Sanders that she will push for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling in her first 30 days in office.

The 2010 Supreme Court decision allows for unlimited corporate contributions in elections, something Sanders railed against repeatedly on the campaign trail during a fierce primary battle to take away the Democratic nomination from Clinton. He asserted on numerous occasions that Clinton was beholden to Wall Street.

The presumptive Democratic nominee’s pledge before the nation’s largest gathering of progressive activists shows the steep hill she has to climb to convince Sanders supporters to come on board her campaign despite receiving the endorsement of the Vermont senator.

To the dismay of establishment Democrats, Sanders won Michigan during the primary, and now some of his supporters here are not that enthused about Clinton.

Michigan Bernie Sanders supporter Paul Andrew Kettunen will vote for Hillary Clinton “despite all her negatives.”

Paul Andrew Kettunen is one of those supporters.

“I have never felt positive about her as a candidate either in her primary campaign against President Obama, or in the current campaign against Bernie Sanders. I think she has been on the wrong side of many important issues like the Iraq invasion, ‘free’ trade, her interpretation of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ and her related policy advocacy, and I, like the majority of Americans, question her sincerity and trustworthiness,” Kettunen said.

“What especially bothers me is her acceptance of millions of dollars from Wall Street speaking engagements, which has helped finance her campaign, and her refusal to disclose the content of even one of those speeches. Yet she insists that her acceptance of this largesse has no effect on her view of Wall Street and the need for its reform, and that she is equally ‘progressive’ as Mr. Sanders on this issue.”

For Kettunen, the FBI director James Comey’s public repudiation of Clinton’s handling of U.S. State Department emails remains an issue for him.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted from July 6-7 found that 56 percent of Americans disapprove of the FBI’s decision to not recommend charges against Clinton, while 35 percent agree.

“Although prosecutors have concluded that her email shenanigans do not warrant an indictment, the FBI director certainly made it clear this was not an easy decision, and that she handled the matter in an ‘extremely careless’ fashion,” Kettunen said. “Finally, I have never been able to rid myself of the distaste I experienced at the disrespectful, indeed deceitful, way she and her husband ran their campaign against President Obama. However, all this being said, as a Democrat, I will vote for her. In any event, despite all her negatives, she is certainly a more appropriate and safer candidate than Donald Trump.”

For Shaunte Wilcher, 25, Sanders’ backing of Clinton does not seal the deal for many of his supporters.

“I think Hillary still has a lot to do to gain the trust and support of voters. She will need to be more grassroots. She will not be able to sit from the top and win this. She will need to excite voters to the polls with more progressive policies because no one cares about making history when they can barely feed their family or live in fear of dying because they wore a hoodie,” Wilcher said.

She added, “Bernie Sanders, like Obama, brought a lot of progressive agenda items to the forefront of the political debate. He instilled a type of hope that Hillary has just not been able to compete. His (Sanders) presence in the campaign has definitely made her a better candidate. For instance, her recent decision to overturn Citizens United has solidified my support, but so many other Bernie supporters I know are still unmoved. She needs to find a better way to connect.”

Willie Burton, a Detroit area Sanders operative, said party policy issues are being resolved.

Willie Burton, who served as the field director for Sanders’ campaign in Detroit and Wayne County, said some of the unresolved policy issues during the primary campaign between Clinton and Sanders are being addressed and he’s ready to support her.

He cited as an example the $15 an hour federal minimum wage which made it into the Democratic Party platform committee ahead of the Democratic National Convention. Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour was a cornerstone of Sanders policy thrust throughout the primary.

“The policy issues have been addressed and I feel we can work and win the Bernie votes. Other fervent supporters will need to be won over so they don’t write in Bernie or vote Libertarian. Our work is to ensure we get as many independents and all the Bernie votes as possible while also gaining moderate Republican supporters. Defeating Donald Trump is the goal.”

Bankole Thompson is the host of “Redline with Bankole Thompson” on Super Station 910 AM Wednesdays and Fridays. His column appears Mondays and Thursdays