Supporters distrust the Democratic party and are frustrated with an election system they say works against their candidate
Ekene Okonkwo studies political science, advocates for gun control and reproductive rights, and is voting in a presidential election for the first time this year. But only if she can vote for Bernie Sanders.
The 19-year-old, who studies political science and lives in the Bronx, said the Vermont senator is the only candidate she trusts to deal with the issues she cares most about on climate change, for instance, she called former vice-president Joe Bidens plan unfeasible. A vote for Biden, who is likely to be the Democratic nominee in November, would only give the party more reason to take her vote for granted, she said.
If we lose to Trump then hopefully within the next four years maybe an AOC or Rashida Tlaib would be able to run, Okonkwo said, referring to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and another progressive politician who has gained popularity in the last two years. Maybe there would be a better chance to save the planet.
Okonkwo is not alone in her unequivocal and uncompromising support for Sanders. She is part of a loosely connected but vocal group, sometimes uniting under hashtags like #BernieorBust or #NeverBiden who say they will not vote for Biden if he wins the nomination. While its nearly impossible to know how large the group is, hundreds of people have shared this sentiment, including progressive political candidates.
It may be impossible to quantify their number, but not their influence. Those Democrats who will not yield to a moderate and vote for Biden if he wins the nomination are the same group who are sometimes blamed for Donald Trumps victory in 2016 when disappointed Sanders fans sat out the general election.