Bernie Sanders has spent a year being cheered by hundreds of thousands of supporters across the US for calling for a “political revolution”.
On Monday night his backers at the Democratic Party convention in Philadelphia erupted in jeers and boos when he told them to get behind Hillary Clinton.
“Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here tonight,” Sanders said in his keynote speech.
It did not come as a surprise—Sanders had always pledged to get behind whoever had the most delegates.
But it infuriated many people. Their anger was deepened by leaked emails which showed the Clinton campaign’s dirty tricks.
One email shows top Democratic Party staff asking how they can make use of Sanders’ Jewish faith to weaken him.
After Sanders’ speech, convention delegate Sarah Hernandez, told reporters, “It’s not what a lot of us wanted to hear.
“We wanted to hear him lay down the law, saying, ‘This election was rigged from the start’. And for him to say how, if you compare the polls of him versus Trump compared to Hillary against Trump, he wins.”
Earlier Sanders supporters marched through the streets chanting, “We want Bernie!” Delegates wore “Bernie or Bust” buttons.
Before his main convention speech, Sanders spoke to over 1,000 delegates who supported him. The crowd rose angrily when he asked them to switch their allegiance to Clinton.
“Brothers and sisters,” he said over their jeers, “this is the real world that we live in.
“Trump is a bully and a demagogue.” People shouted back, “So is Hillary!”
Sanders did not mention Clinton again. “As soon as he said back Clinton, everyone stopped listening,” said protester Cindy Melchert.
Melchert told the Reuters news agency she would not vote for Clinton in November under any circumstances.
Fearing protests on the convention floor would embarrass Clinton, Sanders’ campaign had emailed delegates, urging them to restrain themselves.
“Our credibility as a movement will be damaged by booing, turning of backs, walking out or other similar displays,” it read.
But many ignored the appeal. Sanders won 13 million votes on the basis of rightly berating Clinton as the candidate of the rich and powerful. He should not have abandoned that stance.
Clinton’s choice of Tim Kaine as her vice-presidential running mate is another sign of her right wing stance.
Kaine is known best for his links to the military and the secret state. He sits on the US Senate’s foreign relations and armed services committees.
He has aggressively supported the policies of war and assassination abroad promoted by Barack Obama—except when he has called for even more aggressive actions.
Many of Sanders’ supporters will, in the end, vote for Clinton to keep out Donald Trump. Others are considering a vote for the Green Party’s Jill Stein.
According to one poll, 15 percent of Sanders supporters say they will vote for Trump. His fake anti-elitism and opposition to trade deals such as TTIP make him seem preferable to corporate Clinton.
The crucial question is maintaining and deepening the struggles at the base of society. Strikes such as the one at Verizon, the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight for a $15 an hour minimum wage are what produced the surge for Sanders in the first place.
But those battles need a socialist political home, which they won’t find in the Democratic Party.