N.H. Sanders Supporter Reflects on Campaign: 'A Victory for Sanders' Ideas'

Jul 12, 2016

Credit Allegra Boverman / NHPR

A hard-fought Democratic presidential primary comes to an end in New Hampshire Tuesday.

For Sanders supporters, this marks the end of a movement that began here with a resounding win in the first in the nation primary.

  Wayne Burton is a Democratic state representative from Durham and served as a member of the Sanders campaign New Hampshire steering committee.

He joined NHPR’s Morning Edition.

As someone who worked on the campaign, what does it mean for you to see this movement come to an end?

Well, you have to know that while Bernie may be endorsing Hillary, she is endorsing Bernie because they adopted an exceptionally progressive Democratic Party platform in Orlando the other day that embodies most of what Bernie had stood for. At the beginning of the campaign, Hillary was against the $15 minimum wage, she was against major changes in the Affordable Care Act, and so now she’s for those. Most significantly, she’s for the free tuition policy that Bernie proposed. It really is a victory for the Sanders ideas, although it’s not a victory for Bernie. That’s what makes it somewhat bittersweet this morning, but a celebration nonetheless of Bernie’s ideas.

Wayne Burton

During the campaign, Senator Sanders had some harsh criticism for Secretary Clinton. He called into question her judgment and portrayed her as part of the establishment.

Beyond an endorsement, what does Senator Sanders need to say to convince those who voted for him to now back Clinton?

Well, it’s time to focus on the issues and stay away from the personalities, which is what becomes the fodder in the primary. And the fact that she has adopted many of the ideas he had is extremely important. And it’s also extremely important that those of us who supported Bernie keep her feet to the fire on this as she goes forward. Remember, this is the platform that is proposed at the Democratic convention. We will have a majority of delegates from New Hampshire at that convention who will be pushing hard for Bernie’s agenda, which is now embodied in the Democratic platform. That’s the next step to make sure Bernie’s legacy, which is significant, stays intact.

In speaking with other Sanders supporters, do you get the sense most are ready to get behind Clinton? Or is there still a fair amount of resistance?

When you’re politically passionate about a cause and a person, it’s not like turning a light bulb on and off. You have to take some time. And I think in time – I intend to vote for her, I’ve said that all along if she were the candidate – I think there are others who are still hurting, to some extent. But I think there will be a rallying together. The fact that our party is doing this and unifying while the Republican Party dissembles is significant. We all understand that without a Democratic president and hopefully a Congress to go with it, none of these ideas are possible.  

Looking back, any regrets about the campaign? Some argue Sanders missed an opportunity by disregarding the issue of Secretary Clinton’s use of emails early in the race.

I think Senator Shaheen said it well. Let the process carry out. I think Clinton’s defended herself well. It is a concern, but I think far more important is the thrust of her campaign now and getting on with serving the country. It’s important to remember: please don’t underestimate that Bernie Sanders did this without taking a nickel of PAC money or influence money. And he’s given hope to students to get free tuition. He’s given hope to workers who want $15 an hour. He’s done all of that. And some day, all of them will recognize they owe all of that to Bernie Sanders and the fact that he had the guts to step up and run for president.