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Bernie Sanders’ Message Lives On Through You

Politics has, in theory, always been about the people. Elected officials often start off in politics with a mission to help people and use their power to make the world a better place.

But it remains true that political campaigns will only be successful if people get behind them and become inspired. One example of this kind of inspiration in action is the campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders’ campaign for president was notable because of how much it encouraged young people to become involved in politics.

Though he did not win, his message of social and economic justice still resonates. And now it’s up to his supporters to carry it on. Many were dismayed at Clinton’s victory, but I think Bernie supporters can turn that disappointment into something great.

While I personally voted for Hillary Clinton in the primary, I was never anti-Bernie. His message was a great one, but I remained unconvinced that he could actually implement all of his lofty promises. His lack of preparation on vital issues like foreign policy and his puzzling stances on gun control concerned me as well.

Still, I have a lot of respect for Bernie and his supporters. His campaign and the support it garnered were quite impressive. And his message of social justice and equality is something that everyone should be able to get behind, regardless of who you voted for in the primary.

After being cast off as a long shot at the beginning of the primary season, Sanders got more than 12 million votes nationwide, according to Real Clear Politics. The overwhelming support that Bernie had doesn’t go away because he lost—it changes the ideology of the Democratic Party, moving it further left as it adjusts to the needs of its ever-changing, diverse voter base.

Clinton even alluded to the influence that Sanders now has in her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in July. She commended him on his campaign, and noted that he was instrumental in creating the general election platform.

And though Sanders lost, his message did not.

He shed light on key issues within the realm of social justice, gaining supporters through his authenticity and refusal to move on the stances he’s held for years. While Clinton won because of her experience and overall pragmatism, Sanders’s progressive message will live on through the very people that voted for him.

Through activism, young people can now realize that they have the power to help enact real change. If his voters continue to vouch for social and economic justice, then the loss won’t hinder the movement. And while Sanders will never be president, it doesn’t mean his progressivism can’t live on in the U.S. government. In fact, because of his campaign, candidates for Congress of similar ideologies now have a greater chance of being recognized.

Though it may seem tough, change will always be possible, and the way the U.S. government is set up ensures that there are chances for it to come to fruition. By electing more Democrats, both progressive and moderate, to our legislature, the chances of Bernie’s message taking root greatly improve.

It remains true that Sanders alone can’t change anything, and in all honesty, it’s possible that not much would have changed even if he did become president due to the gridlocked nature of Congress. That’s why Congressional elections are so incredibly vital.

If more Democrats are elected, liberal policies will be passed—and from there, real change can happen. The 114th Congress was plagued by an inability to compromise, but a realignment in party control of the two chambers could be instrumental in eradicating harmful gridlock.

Though Sanders took a tad too long admit his defeat, his ultimate coming together with Clinton shows that while progressivism can work, it requires compromise.

And so, if Sanders’ supporters can continue to preach their ideals while maintaining the ability to compromise, there’s no reason to feel defeated at the loss of Bernie Sanders.

But please, don’t twist this call for the continuation of the Vermont senator’s message into support for “Bernie or Bust.” That kind of pettiness is not what Sanders wants to see from his supporters. Clinton was always the more practical candidate, as her experience qualifies her beyond Sanders or anyone else who has ever run for president. Doubts about her character are reasonable, but what’s not is refusing to vote for her despite the fact that she has taken on many of the policies that endeared Sanders to so many.

In the end, it’s up to Sanders voters to carry on his message the right way, using his message to promote equality in all areas of government. His message was what made him so likable, and now it’s up to his supporters to stay productive and make sure that message doesn’t disappear.

Lauren Grimaldi is a political science student minoring in journalism at Roosevelt University in Chicago. She was a staff reporter on her college newspaper, the Roosevelt Torch, for the past two years, and will enter into her third year of college as the Managing Editor of the paper. Lauren also writes for Study Breaks, an online college magazine that features student writers from across the nation. In the future, she hopes to work as a political reporter to bring the most important news on government and policy to the public. While she loves reporting political news, her favorite articles to write by far are political op-eds. Outside of politics, her interests include comedy, baseball, hockey, and food. Lauren can be reached at laurengrimaldi@hercampus.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at @LaurenGrimaldi1.