Quick Hit Ellyn Fortino Monday August 1st, 2016, 5:14pm

Rev. Jackson Urges 'Unity' Among Clinton, Sanders Supporters As Some Eye The Green Party

The Rev. Jesse Jackson joined Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters in Chicago Monday morning to call for "unity and healing" ahead of the general election.

Primary supporters of Sanders who are now backing Democratic presidential nominee Clinton were among those who spoke during a news conference at the Rainbow Push Coalition's headquarters, including Henry Fulkerson of the Democratic Party of Oak Park.

"I'm proud to say that I supported Bernie Sanders and that he worked together with Hillary to give us the most progressive Democratic Party platform in the history of the Democratic Party," he said. "And now I'm very proud to say that I support Hillary 100 percent, and I want to make sure that she gets elected so that we can dump [GOP presidential nominee Donald] Trump come November."

When asked to address the Sanders supporters who are undecided on Clinton or do not intend to vote for her in the general election, Jackson said the "issues that bind us transcend that conversation."

"That conversation's behind us," he said. "Hillary is the nominee. Hillary will face Donald Trump November the 8th. ... It's the agenda that drives us forward."

Now that the Democratic primary race between Clinton and Sanders is over, "What's before us is November the 8th. Trump or Hillary? And that's a choice we have to make politically," Jackson continued.

Illinois State Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) said the choice is clear for her. 

"I am a Hillary supporter," she said. "Hillary's for the same thing that I am for. Hillary is for making Wall Street responsible. I'm for making LaSalle Street responsible in the interim. I'm talking about a financial transaction tax."

The Rainbow Push Coalition's event in Chicago was "the first in a series of 'unity and healing' news conferences to be held around the country," according to a press release. Jackson also said the organization would work to register 2 million new voters for the general election. 

Illinois State Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) also attended the news conference, as did former Chicago Public Schools principal Troy LaRaviere, both of whom were Sanders delegates. 

"Hillary Clinton still has work to do to convince [Sanders supporters], and they have every right to hold out, but they should really be smart about their vote and listen to the agenda items to find out who can really carry out their demands," Ford, who now backs Clinton, told Progress Illinois.

"It's clear that we have a better shot at Hillary Clinton carrying out a Democratic-type agenda," he continued. "Hopefully Hillary Clinton can connect with the Green Party candidate's possible voters and bring 'em over. So those are the Bernie Sanders old voters. I think if they listen to the messages of all campaigns, Hillary would be a clear choice."

Ford was referring to Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

While "people must make free choices" when it comes to the political candidates they support, Jackson suggested that the election could swing to Trump if enough voters opt for Stein over Clinton.

Darletta Scruggs is among the Sanders supporters who have decided to throw their weight behind Stein in the general election. Scruggs, with the Chicago Socialist Alternative and the Chicago Movement for Bernie, spoke to Progress Illinois Monday afternoon.

"I understand the fear of a Trump presidency is real, but we have to acknowledge: How did we get to where we are now?" she said. "If it wasn't for the failures of policy of both parties, we wouldn't be in this place where we are now. And to diminish the possibility of in the next four years being in an even worse situation between even two worse candidates, I think now is the time where we have to break free and we have to make a stand."

For her part, Stein expressed hope that her campaign can act as a "plan B" for Sanders supporters. 

"We are here especially for the Bernie Sanders movement that does not want to go back into that dark night, into the Hillary Clinton campaign, that for so many people represents the opposite of what Bernie was building and what they were building," Stein said in an interview with NPR before the Democratic National Convention. "I think so many people learned that you cannot have a revolutionary campaign inside of a counter-revolutionary party. So we are here as plan B for Bernie to ensure that this fight will go on."

Scruggs, meanwhile, was put off by the call for "unity and healing" by those at Monday's Rainbow Push event.

"I think it's interesting that you have people like the Rev. Jesse Jackson as well as others who put the responsibility and burden of 'unity and healing' on those that actually have not done the hurting itself," she said. "The Democratic Party is largely responsible for not only the vacuum created for the rise of a right-wing candidate like Trump but for the sabotage of the Bernie Sanders campaign. 

"The issue that I think a lot of people are having is that the Democratic Party united behind Hillary Clinton a long time ago and didn't even leave it up for the voters to have the choice to decide which of the two candidates they prefer," Scruggs added. 

The Green Party candidate says her campaign has gained greater attention since Sanders endorsed Clinton, telling The Atlantic last week that "the floodgates opened."

"I almost feel like a social worker, being out there talking to the Bernie supporters. They are broken-hearted. They feel really abused, and misled, largely by the Democratic Party," Stein noted.

She also addressed the crowd at a "Bernie or Bust" rally in Philadelphia last week.

"Whatever happens, you know my campaign is here," Stein said at the event. "We are going to continue this movement."


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