A Conscience of Convenience
Many Bernie Sanders supporters who call themselves progressives are now threatening to sit out the general election if their candidate isn't the Democratic nominee. They claim voting for Hillary Clinton would violate their morals and compromise their conscience. The irony would seem obvious; they already did both when they decided to back Bernie Sanders. By refusing to cast a vote, these progressives aren’t obeying their conscience but instead creating a conscience of convenience.
Progressives supporting Sanders compromised their values when they turned their backs on the gun control movement by making excuses for Bernie's five votes against the Brady bill and his vote to give gun manufacturers immunity. Suddenly their deep concern for all the moms and pops who sell guns now trumps the lives of thousands of potential victims.
Progressives who refuse to vote trampled on their own values when they decided all corporations were evil except gun manufacturers. They were so righteous in their beliefs that they condescendingly attacked the parents and families of the Sandy Hook victims by accusing them of being exploited by Hillary Clinton. Do those Progressives think they are the only ones with the privilege to use the political system to affect change? Do they see everyone else as too naive to see they are being manipulated? It appears that way to many of us.
These disgruntled progressives criticize Pres. Obama's efforts to implement environmental controls and the agreements he has pushed world leaders to sign. Yet, dumping nuclear waste from Vermont in a small dusty Texas town against the wishes of its citizens is acceptable to them. That Sierra Blanca is an impoverished Latino community without agency, the very reason it was selected, is of little consequence to them. Once again the irony escapes them that the Bernie who denounces environmental racism is the same Bernie who successfully fought against allowing the citizens of Sierra Blanca to decide the fate of the dump.
Progressives hate lobbyists, the Defense Department, war and big corporations and campaign donors. Yet Bernie has all of those hates wrapped up in one big package called Lockheed. Guess who Bernie recruited to come to Burlington? Lockheed. Guess who is building the DOD's biggest boondoggle? Lockheed. Guess who spends millions of dollars on lobbying and elections? That's right, Lockheed. His supporters either ignore or excuse then-Mayor Sanders’ willingness to have a group protesting outside the Burlington Lockheed’s fence arrested.
Remember when Progressives denigrated Romney for refusing to release his taxes. His refusal was proof enough that he was a crook hiding evil deeds. Now that doesn't seem to be the case for Bernie for many of his supporters. They accept that Jane and Bernie are too busy to find their taxes, or they aren't "people of means" who can afford to have someone else do them. However, they can afford two homes and have an investment portfolio. Still, they pay a much smaller tax rate than my husband and I pay on a much smaller income. Yes, Sanders takes advantage of the very tax system with all the loopholes he reviles.
In my opinion, using the conscience and morality argument to justify not voting has nothing to do with refusing to vote and everything to do with revenge and pettiness. Many progressives chose a candidate whose message of anger and retribution fueled their own lust for the same. The rest of us, however, saw another man. We saw the very poster child of the establishment--an ambitious white man, a career politician, who slaps an ugly label on anyone who dares disagree or contradict him. We see a politician, who in nearly 30 years in DC, has little of substance to show for those years.
I am distressed hearing many of Sanders' allies say, "I survived Bush for 8 years. I can survive Trump." I’m asking you to consider who didn't survive Bush. Thousands of poor without health care, 9/11 and Katrina victims, young American men and women serving in the Middle East along with thousands upon thousands of Iraqi and Afghanistan citizens, and victims of gun violence. Yes, some progressives could probably survive Trump from the safety of their white privileged lives, but many of their fellow Americans will not.
The Supreme Court won't survive nor will the right to vote. The Dream Act will never be born. The middle class will be extinguished along with the dreams of millions of young people hoping for a college education or even college debt relief.
Women's rights will be further eroded as the unfettered Republicans legislate away our rights to control our bodies, redefine rape, prevent fair pay and gender equality. The misogyny and sexism on display now will grow increasingly more intense.
Don't expect a fair wage, much less an increase in the minimum wage. Countless will be denied government assistance. Regulations on Wall Street will be lifted. In other words, all the changes the progressives want are doomed. All the progress we’ve made will be wiped out. Honestly, I don't see how anyone could hold his/her head high for not voting and therefore saying to hell with his/her fellow Americans. I am left to wonder if staying home on Election Day has nothing to do with conscience or morals and everything to do with punishing those who didn't "Feel the Bern."
Come on, Bernie supporters, you're better than this. Of course you have legitimate concerns and criticisms about Hillary Clinton, but using right-wing talking points and buying into ginned-up conspiracy theories should be beneath all true progressives. Progressives’ concern for their families, friends, and neighbors should also transcend the adoration of any one person. How is setting us back again going to establish progressive values, values we all agree help everybody?
Here’s what I suggest. If you don’t like the primary process in your state, become involved in state politics. Don’t allow someone else to make decisions for you. Get in there and fight for what you believe is a fairer method of nominating a candidate. The rules that govern your state’s primary election rules were not made in a vacuum. Find out the history from which those rules were created. Who knows! You may discover you agree with them after all.
We progressives and liberals have so much in common. We all want a political party that reflects our values. We want our elected officials to be accountable to us and not outside interests. We want outside money eliminated from elections. But I would hope that our greatest concern is for the welfare of our fellow human beings and all that entails, and while we may see different paths to a better country, we share that same goal.
If you’re threatening to withhold your vote, please reconsider. Rise above your skepticism and distrust and anger and disappointment. Hold your nose if you have to and scream and yell and curse that your choice is Hillary Clinton. But vote. Listen to your conscience rather than your bruised ego. Then hold Madam President, along with every other Democratic elected official, accountable for implementing a progressive platform.
Like what you read? Chip in, keep us going.