What's Next For Bernie Sanders' Biggest Fans

Photographed by Nathaniel Welch.
Dannielle Owens-Reid supports Bernie Sanders.
Dannielle Owens-Reid wears her feelings about this year's election on her sleeve — literally.

The 30-year-old Californian's left bicep features a tattoo of Bernie Sanders smoking a joint, with the words, "What a time to be alive" — a reference to Drake and Future's collaborative mixtape — floating in the cloud of smoke.

Owens-Reid got the design, sketched by a friend and inked by Denver-based tattoo artist Liz Greeen, as the primary was winding to an end in May. But the decision to make such a permanent political statement was about "way more than Bernie Sanders," she says.

"It’s about how many people I’ve seen come out of the woodwork and be like, 'Whoa I believe in this shit, too,'" she said.

Owens-Reid was one of millions of young voters energized and inspired by the Vermont senator's campaign for the White House this spring. Now, heading into the general election, Sanders supporters are facing two key questions: Where does the movement go from here? And, will they support presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the fall?

For Clinton, getting many of those young voters who #FeelTheBern to now declare that #ImWithHer is no easy task. Long and hard-fought primaries often leave bitter tastes in voters' mouths, especially for those on the side that doesn't win. Thousands of Sanders backers have already taken to the streets ahead of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to voice their views and opposition to the nominee.

Bernie, he did awaken the political revolution; however, he is not the political revolution. We are.

Sameera Khan, Sanders supporter
Many Sanders supporters interviewed by Refinery29 at a climate change rally outside Philadelphia Sunday feel their political views are incompatible with those of the former secretary of state. And a trove of Democratic National Committee emails released over the weekend as part of a Wikileaks hack aren't helping efforts for the establishment to win the support — and trust — of Sanders' base.

Sanders has thrown his support behind Clinton's bid, saying he intends "to do everything I can to make certain that she will be the next president of the United States.”

On Monday, Sanders once again made the case for supporting Clinton during his speech at the Democratic National Convention. His pitch came after a night in which his delegates broke out into chants and boos in response to calls for party unity.

"Based on her ideas and her leadership, Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States," he said. :The choice is not even close.

Lore Elisabeth, a 29-year-old from Germantown, PA, plans to follow her candidate's lead and vote for the former secretary of state in the fall.
Photographed by Nathaniel Welch.
Owens-Reid's tattoo was inspired by a sketch drawn by a friend.
“My point for voting for Hillary is not because I’m for her; it’s because I’m against Trump," she told Refinery29. "I think I understand the passion behind the protest, but I don’t think it’s an effective one in the moment.”

But some of his supporters still aren't down with the Democratic ticket — and say they never will be.

“I could never vote for Hillary Clinton. She is everything I stand against," Sameera Khan, a political activist and former Miss New Jersey, told Refinery29.

In addition to his positions on issues, Khan praises Sanders for waking up the "politically passive."

"People who weren’t previously involved in politics are now speaking out, and they’re aware of corporate greed and corporate socialism," she said.

Khan, who lives in a solidly blue state, is planning on voting for the Green Party's Jill Stein in the general election. Beyond November, she said she hopes to see other supporters continue to press for change through grassroots organizations like Democracy Spring.

My point for voting for Hillary is not because I’m for her; it’s because I’m against Trump.

Lore Elisabeth, Pennsylvania voter
“Bernie, he did awaken the political revolution; however, he is not the political revolution," Khan said. "We are."

Owens-Reid also isn't a big Clinton fan. She's discouraged by the candidate's earlier stances on LGBTQ rights and shifts on other issues.

"No matter what [Clinton] says, she has said and then done different things at different times," she said.

Owens-Reid hasn't decided how she's going to vote come November 8. But for now, she's excited to channel her newfound political activism into local and congressional races back in Southern California, which she said she's paying attention to for the first time in her life.

“It does feel like this is an incredible time to be alive," she said.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on July 25, 2016. It has been updated with Sen. Sanders' remarks at the DNC.

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