A night in New Hampshire: a journey from Sanders to Clinton

In the first week in February, I was feeling anxious. I had just returned from JanPlan break with only the grind of another Colby semester to look forward to. I needed a break from it all. I was frankly jealous of my friends in New Hampshire who had met the likes of Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton. I did not want to be left out.  So when a good friend suggested that I attend the 100 Club Democratic Fundraiser Dinner in Manchester New Hampshire I readily accepted.

Getting to New Hampshire was an adventure in itself, but through the snow and the hail we finally made it to Manchester to see Bernie and Hillary speak. At the time, I was a Sanders supporter, so I sat on the Bernie side of the stadium cheering on the political revolution.

But throughout the course of the night, Sanders supporters spent nearly as much time jeering local politicians as they did cheering for Bernie. Admittedly, this was in part because Hillary Clinton received several endorsements throughout the night while Sanders received none. But clearly, there was something else going on. In the past, I simply accepted the narrative that the political class was playing it safe. After all, endorsing a winning candidate would make it easier for state representatives to get funding from the federal government for social programs and other essential services. But based on their impassioned speeches, these state representatives and congressmen clearly believed that Hillary Clinton had the ability to change the country for the better. They expressed confidence in Clinton’s ability to lead despite the fierce partisan landscape that exists today.

After the event, we were unable to find a hotel room, so we decided to relax at the Radisson Hotel Lobby giving me ample time to think. I was still a Sanders supporter, but I began to have doubts. I read articles on my phone about Sanders’ single payer health proposal outlining the trillions of dollars in revenue the government would have to raise to make it a reality. I also read an article that suggested that Sanders would literally “Bern” through his political capital very quickly by pressuring Congress to implement single payer healthcare, free public college, and a two-fold increase in the minimum wage. As the night went on, I found myself doubting Sanders’ message even more. Perhaps what the country needs is an insider who understands how to manipulate the political process; a “changemaker” as Bill Clinton puts it.

Several hours later, having stayed awake throughout the night we made our way to Carson headquarters to hear the doctor speak. I figured what better way to get my mind off my troubles then to listen to a man with absolutely no qualifications to be president. At the event, we sung God Bless America with Candy Carson and shook hands with the would be Donald Trump supporter himself.

Nevertheless, as we left Carson headquarters my mind returned to the question of which candidate was best suited to lead the nation. Again, I was unable to make a decision, even more unsure than before. But this all changed when I arrived at Clinton headquarters in Hampton, New Hampshire. In Hampton, I met local Democrats that had been working on elections for 20, 30, even 40 years. Each person had a slightly different perspective on why they believed Hillary was the best candidate for office. But there was one unifying theme that they all touched upon: The most important role of a president is to negotiate and compromise. They argued that Senator Sanders will not be “bringing people together” as he so often claims. In fact, Sanders’ ideological purity, the trait I respected most, would not allow him to negotiate without sacrificing his principles. Given the choice between a candidate that can present radical reforms and a candidate that will implement modest reforms I proudly chose the latter.

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