I want to start by deeply honoring you for a lifetime of integrity, service, and passion for change. And especially for creating an historic campaign that truly moved the needle on our national dialogue and expanded our vision for what is possible.
I was one of the very earliest wave of contributors, before you even declared. I celebrated your rise even while I ultimately have chosen to support Hillary. I wrote a Huffington Post article about embracing both of you for different reasons.
You have advanced bold ideas that are much needed. You have inspired millions and galvanized a new generation of change agents. You have inspired a more positive possibility for our country.
So I’m writing to encourage you to not squander the gains you’ve made by continuing on the course you’ve set for yourself now.
While you may not see it yet, I and many others see that you are now undermining your success and starting to waste your opportunity.
It may seem that the bold progressive thing is to go to Philadelphia demanding change, concessions, and more power every step of the way. It may be that the intoxicating rush of capacity crowds has convinced you that THIS is the way that the revolution is won.
But it really isn’t.
I’m writing to speak for a lot of people who are abandoning you now because you are not stepping into the new leadership that is required for a new stage of things. Many are losing trust in your leadership because you are not adapting to new conditions. You appear to be losing sight of how to get long-term results.
The simple truth is that you have earned a seat at the table of power, but you are now abdicating that seat to make loud protests and angry statements from outside.
I assume this is mainly about momentum. For a lifetime, you’ve been the outsider. You may simply not have acclimated to the new reality that you have millions of people who support your leadership and your voice.
You can now influence the trajectory of our nation for the good but you need to demonstrate leadership for this moment.
That means building a trusted relationship with Hillary. At this point, your only hope for the kind of bold legislative changes you desire is if she wins against Trump AND you continue to be able to exert a positive influence if she’s our president.
That means going beyond forcing some temporary concessions at the DNC by being loud and demanding. It’s about becoming a trusted ally within her circle the way she did with Obama.
You are operating from what I see as a subtle form of violence — anger and attack to “force” changes or impose them on her or the Democratic Party. You are still subtly undermining Hillary’s campaign by fostering suspicion and negativity towards her in your supporters.
You might win some short-term skirmishes that way but you will not become a trusted part of the leadership team of the United States.
Most importantly for you, the longer you draw out this endgame and the more you give permission and subtle encouragement to the negativity against Hillary that has become a hallmark of many of your supporters, the more directly you support the likelihood of a Trump victory AND, even more importantly, the more people who now respect you peel away and write you off.
Every day you wait, you lose thousands of supporters.
Many people I know have said they supported you until the last month or so. Opinions of your leadership are rapidly changing now, which you may not be able to hear as fully since you’re surrounded by the supportive cheers of die-hard supporters who want to continue the fight.
But keep your ear to the ground. Every single day you continue your candidacy, the more supporters will abandon you as an out-of-touch ideologue rather than a leader for the future.
If you can turn things around now and make a demonstration of a lasting, trusted peace with Hillary, I think your revolution will continue and thrive.
If you fight to the convention and continue to foster schisms, you risk ending your political career as an angry outsider rather than someone who is helping to make the decisions that will shape the next phase of our country.
Hillary knows the power of turning a rival into ally, which Obama demonstrated to her (and vice versa). I am sure she will welcome you.
But you have to choose to step into a new kind of leadership that is more evolutionary than revolutionary.
A revolutionary can become an evolutionary by doing two things: first, renounce violent and polarizing means and second, by working WITH those in power to improve things.
My concern is that there’s a kind of subtle violence that has crept into your call for change. You’ve begun to sound like a revolutionary who is stuck in the last phase.
Leadership needs to evolve. Demonstrate that for us. Show us that you understand how to advance the revolution you’ve nurtured into a lasting force for evolutionary change rather than a movement that ultimately undermines Hillary, elects Trump and tears the movement apart rather than unifying the left-leaning forces that want to create a brighter future.
The future of the United States could very much be in your hands. I simply encourage you to recognize the power you’ve earned and wield it with wisdom.