Berkshires Sanders supporters slow to back Clinton
Berkshires public officials who have supported Bernie Sanders for the presidency do recognize the need to defeat Republican Donald Trump in November — but only that.
They expressed no enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton, scarcely mentioning her name as their candidate Sanders endorsed her and ended a months-long, countrywide political showdown on Tuesday.
Neither state Rep. Paul Mark, (D-Peru), nor Pittsfield Ward 6 City Councilor John Krol faulted their candidate for doing so.
"I think many of us who supported Bernie and trust him recognize that the position he's in is incredibly difficult," said Pittsfield Ward 6 Councilor John Krol. "I know it had to be as challenging and painful for him to stomach this as it was for many of his supporters. And I say stomach because that's what this is."
He added, "This is truly a situation where we're confronted with a choice between two evils, and you're looking at which will ultimately be the lesser of the two. But just because he endorses Hillary doesn't mean she has my vote."
Krol said he leans toward Green Party candidate Jill Stein, but is still undecided.
Mark said he always planned to support the Democrats' nominee and that he planned to "do I everything I can to make sure Donald Trump is not in the White House."
"Of course it's always disappointing when the person you got behind doesn't end up coming out on top," Mark said.
However, the state representative took hope in what Sanders' campaign brought to the American political system.
"How close he came sends a message to the Democratic establishment," Mark said. "If you're a progressive, now it's time to start thinking the people you believe in, that have a strong message, can win. I think it's going to make Hillary move to the left where she should be."
Sanders became a voice of many of the progressive movement's views over the course of his campaign, but the movement is much more broad-ranging, Mark said, seeking to take the Senate, state houses and governorships.
"I think we've found a solidarity and focal point and it's time to capitalize," he said.
Krol sounded a similar note.
"The movement has to continue," he said. "People must participate."
However, he was less optimistic than Mark. Krol noted that the Democratic National Committee failed to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership — seen by many to be anti-labor — and was weak on the minimum wage and single-payer healthcare in its official platform.
"It's remarkable, what we have here is the two least popular candidates for the presidency since they've been taking those metrics," Krol said. "That tells you a lot about the system. That's the reality [Sanders] faces, and it's what we have to face, too."
He added, "A percentage of his supporters will never vote for Hillary Clinton. He had a broad constituency that cut across traditional political lines. My fear is that Hillary is so unpopular that a Trump presidency could become a reality."
In a Facebook post, Mark voiced his solution: joining "Bernie Sanders in working to elect our first female president and preventing a Donald Trump presidency" — while simultaneously fighting for progressive values as the Berkshires' lone delegate to the National Convention.
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