A California delegate for Bernie Sanders demonstrated that not all of the Vermont senator’s supporters inside the Democratic National Convention believe one has to remain firmly in the “Never Hillary” camp to continue Sanders’ political revolution.
In an interview with The Real News Network at the DNC in Philadelphia on Monday, Jamar Jefferson, a delegate for Bernie Sanders from Sacramento, explained that he would be willing to support the former Secretary of State if she demonstrated that her policies would help all Americans. Jefferson suggested, however, that Clinton’s campaign is currently more supportive of the Democratic Party establishment than its populist base.
“Democrats are willing to forgive, but we are fed up about not having the opportunity,” Jefferson told The Real News. “We are fed up with our children not being properly fed. We’re tired of war.”
When the TRNN interview turned to the subject of mass incarceration, Jefferson was quick to suggest that Hillary Clinton’s past support of the 1994 crime bill her husband signed into law may have contributed to the racial inequality people of color still experience.
“[The law was passed] under Bill Clinton in a historical move that enslaved more blacks than the colonies,” said Jefferson, who is black. The Sanders delegate also suggested that one of the reasons why many African-Americans continued to support the Clintons throughout the 1990s was because they were older, black voters who were not statistically affected by the crime bill’s policies.
“How many old people went to prison?,” Jefferson asked. “It was the young people that went to prison. The old people sold us out.”
Jefferson’s frustration with Hillary Clinton’s role in the criminal justice system has been a common theme during the election cycle. As Think Progress reported in March, Black Lives Matter protesters and African-American writers alike have criticized the former Secretary of State for her support of the bill, arguing that it escalated the mass imprisonment of black citizens. Think Progress noted that Clinton admitted some aspects of the bill were a mistake.
But Jefferson’s willingness to even consider supporting Clinton is not a popular argument among other Sanders delegates on the Convention floor. ABC News noted that the Vermont senator himself was booed by the left-leaning faction when he declared Monday, “We must elect Hillary Clinton.”
Tensions were inflamed as the DNC began in Philadelphia after revelations from leaked emails that Democratic National Committee members were deliberately favoring Clinton over Sanders.
“We all suspected that these things were going on, the rigging of the primaries and the collusion between the DNC and the Hillary campaign,” Gary West, a Sanders supporter and Texas delegate, told The Guardian on Tuesday. “And we were all told we were crazy.”
Jefferson, the Sanders delegate from Sacramento, seemed to echo the frustration with Democratic Party leadership when he told TRNN that voters need the President “to defend all Americans, not corporations.”
But Jefferson said that although he believes Sanders will eventually concede and release his delegates, the progressive policies the senator’s campaign championed will not end with him.
“After Bernie, it’s Jamar Jefferson,” he told TRNN. “I’ll show you how to lead a political revolution. You don’t quit on your people.”
Jefferson added that he recently ran for Congress, and he would like to run for President in both 2020 and 2024.
“And I can tell you this: I’ll never, ever turn my back on any American, and we will defend the Constitution, and make America better, not great.”