Bernie Sanders supporters are hurting Democratic Party, helping Donald Trump

Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign for the presidency has been an inspiring one. The senator from Vermont has tapped the vein of populism throbbing throughout the country and pushed his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in ways many thought unimaginable when this campaign started in 2015.

But Sanders has lost the race for the Democratic Party's nomination to be president.

According to the website FiveThirtyEight.com, it is almost mathematically impossible for Sanders to secure the nomination, and Clinton will likely secure it June 7 at the conclusion of the California Democratic primary. The so-called writing on the wall has been evident since Clinton's winning streak through much of April, when she locked down substantial support through the Democrats' method of awarding delegates proportionally.

Yet Sanders and his supporters carry on.

This is enormously frustrating for those of us who call ourselves Democrats and have participated in the party for years. Exit polls consistently show Clinton beating Sanders by 29 percent with self-identified Democrats, whereas he wins by 30 percent with self-identified independents.

Sanders, who never affiliated with the Democratic Party until his run for president, has every right to join our party and vigorously contest its nomination by bringing new people into it. However, neither he nor his supporters have the right to demand our fealty to their wishes considering they have failed to win a majority of our votes.

They also certainly don't have the right to do what some Sanders supporters did at a recent state convention in Nevada. Sanders supporters disrupted the event, threw chairs and stormed the stage. One supporter published personal contact information on social media for Roberta Lange, chair of the state party, inviting calls, emails and texts from across the country that have involved harassment and death threats.

For what? A set of rules that would give them a chance to overturn the caucus results from Nevada's Feb. 20 contest? Even if Sanders prevailed and somehow won every single one of those delegates, he still will not secure the nomination.

Elected officials who support Sanders and consider themselves Democrats have a larger responsibility to their party and to the constituencies they represent. Every minute Sanders continues to forcefully challenge Clinton — and every dollar he forces her to spend contesting him — is benefiting Donald Trump.

There are some who identify as "Bernie or Bust" supporters who claim Sanders and only Sanders should be president.

Notwithstanding the notion that this group would contribute to the election of a misogynist who has called Mexican immigrants rapists and stated he'd meet with Kim Jong Un of North Korea, its members have every right to do what they wish.

But those Sanders supporters who consider themselves members of the Democratic Party should be horrified by what Sanders supporters are doing and should forcefully condemn it. Further, it is their responsibility to step up and bring their colleagues together to back the party's nominee for president.

Make no mistake, Trump is the single most dangerous person the Republican Party has ever nominated for president. Not only is he hideously unqualified to conduct foreign affairs, he should have no authority to put young men and women in danger on behalf of our military or be given codes to nuclear weapons. He has already stated that he would default on U.S. financial obligations, potentially starting another Great Depression.

It is Sanders' choice to continue his campaign and fan the flames of division. He has earned that right by running a vigorous and virtuous campaign.

But it is not a choice that should be met with silence from those of us who consider ourselves Democrats. It's time to step up, back our nominee and end this divisive contest.

Thomas C. Bowen is a Democratic media and political consultant who occasionally thinks out loud at @thomascbowen on Twitter.

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