Law and Politics

Bernie Delegate to Clinton Camp: ‘You Have Work to Do’

July 15, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco

NYC Council Member and Bernie Delegate Jumaane Williams.

NYC Council Member and Bernie Delegate Jumaane Williams.

Brookllyn, NY – In April, Council Member Jumaane Williams [D-45th District] helped electrify a rally of more than 28,000 Bernie Sanders supporters in Prospect Park with his stirring “moonshot” speech in support of the Vermont senator’s historic presidential run — this week, the Brooklyn legislator joined with other progressives throughout the city and the nation in absorbing Bernie’s endorsement of rival Hillary Clinton — and advising the former secretary of state’s camp that they still have lots of work to do to if they expect Bernie’s people to vote Clinton in November. 

“I think if you compare Hillary and Trump, you have not choice,” Council Member Williams told LaborPress on the steps of City Hall earlier this week. “At the same time, the Hillary camp still needs to focus on the supporters themselves. And, hopefully, they’re not resting on their laurels. Getting support from Bernie doesn’t automatically translate without really focusing on the many things that he was talking about and his supporters were talking about. You have to speak the supporters’ language in a better way.”

In endorsing Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, Sanders pointed to a few important ways — including free college for working families and support for a public option — that his campaign has been able push Hillary Clinton to the left. 

“You should know that in the weeks since the last primary, both campaigns have worked together in good faith to bridge some of the policy issues that divided us during the election,” Sanders wrote to his supporters following the endorsement. “Did we come to agreement on everything? Of course not. But we made important steps forward.”

But many Sanders supporters, pointing to numerous voting irregularities during the primaries — including the inexplicable purging of some 120,000 Democratic voters right here in Brooklyn — remain steadfastly opposed to voting for Hillary Clinton in November. 

Others look at vital policy issues including the anti-Trans Pacific Partnership amendment to the Democratic Nation Party platform that Sanders appointees advanced and Clinton surrogates shot down — as reason not to back Hillary for president. 

Council Member Williams, chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings, will be attending the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia later this month as a Bernie Sanders delegate. 

“My plan is to support the Democratic nominee that comes out of that convention,” the Brooklyn legislator said. “But, again, Hillary has work to do in terms of those supporters. In figuring out why they are speaking the way they speak and address those issues. Don’t just say, ‘We have Bernie’s support, come along.’ Really talk their language and address those issues.”

As it stands, those preparing to take Sanders’ cue and vote Clinton over Trump, appear to be doing so out a profound fear of a Donald Trump presidency. 

In further explaining his Clinton endorsement to supporters, Sanders said, “Today, I endorsed Hillary Clinton to be our next president. I know that some of you will be disappointed with that decision. But I believe that, at this moment, our country, our values, and our common vision for a transformed America, are best served by the defeat of Donald Trump and the election of Hillary Clinton.”

The Brooklyn-born senator from Vermont also warned that a Trump presidency could “precipitate the same decades-long rightward shift in American politics that happened after the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.”

“I cannot in good conscience let that happen,” Sanders said. 

Council Member Williams, known as one of the leading progressive voices in the New York City Council, agreed. 

“There are other people running, but for all intents and purposes, it’s probably Hillary versus Trump, and there’s just no question about who would be the better person,” Council member Williams said. “People still have concerns, which they should, and I still do. But I don’t even know what to say about a Trump presidency.”

And the missed opportunity for a political “moonshot?”

“Moonshots are difficult — that’s why they’re historic,” the council member said. 

July 15, 2016

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