Sanders’s endorsement of Clinton was, in many ways, not far off from his usual stump speech: He talked about the incredible success of his underdog campaign and its reliance on small donations; the need to end inequality and mass incarceration, overturn Citizens United, acknowledge climate change research, and make college more affordable; and he made it clear that the “revolution” he and his supporters began has not ended and will not end on November 7.
Sanders’s stump speech had switched from attacking Hillary Clinton to attacking Donald Trump over a month ago, but his endorsement of Clinton was all about paving over their differences and emphasizing their shared goals. For half an hour, Sanders spoke about what he and Clinton jointly believed in:
Hillary Clinton understands that we must fix an economy in America that is rigged and that sends almost all new wealth and income to the top one percent. Hillary Clinton understands that if someone in America works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty. She believes that we should raise the minimum wage to a living wage. And she wants to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure—our roads, bridges, water systems and wastewater plants.
It’s hard to think of a better endorsement Sanders could have given Clinton. He could have gone on stage and said “Hillary Clinton is the lesser of two evils,” but instead provided an unequivocal endorsement of her candidacy and her positions, while forcefully reminding his supporters that she won the Democratic Primary. Sanders simultaneously deputized her as a leader of the revolution he started and reminded his supporters that, if they are to begin to accomplish their goals, they need Clinton to win in November. (There was some chatter online about how Sanders looked a bit dragged, while Clinton smiled next to him, but Bernie always looks dragged and always shouts.) There is going to be a lot of talk, some of it deserved, for the next four months about Sanders supporters who are refusing to back Clinton’s candidacy—but after Tuesday’s speech there can be no doubt that Sanders is a supporter.