Do What You Want: An Open Letter to the Bernie or Bust Movement on Behalf of the Democratic Party
Over the past month, you've been in the news quite often for your political stance in which you've stated that the only candidate you will support this election cycle is Senator Bernie Sanders. This stance has drawn a range of reactions from people like Huffington Post's H. A. Goodman that support your dedication to your candidate to those like political comedian Bill Maher who have advised you to "not be assholes." Despite Bernie Sanders' recent willingness to support Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee if certain conditions are met, a number of you have continued your stance to support Sanders and Sanders alone. Polls have come out showing that you represent one-quarter of Senator Sanders' supporters. If we were to extrapolate that number out, it would mean over 2 million Democratic voters would be sitting out the 2016 general election, potentially creating an extremely close race or even a Republican victory. With so much at stake, you all are probably tired of all the advice you've been given so I'll do my best to cut to the heart of what I'd like you to know:
The Democratic Party doesn't want or need your vote.
Now, I know what you're thinking. You believe that by withholding your support, you'll cause the Democratic Party to lose in November. You believe that should Hillary Clinton lose, it will be a sign that Bernie Sanders was the better candidate after all. You believe that if someone like Donald Trump wins, it will mean that the Democratic Party will get what it deserves. You believe that by not voting you are making a statement in defense of your candidate and his views. You believe that there is one candidate and one candidate alone in this race that represents you and will fight for you and if that candidate doesn't get his party's nomination then there is no reason to vote come November. And you believe that by making your choice, you are making a statement that you were right all along about your chosen candidate.
But that's not how politics works.
Politics is based off of the idea that you support a candidate either because you believe in both that candidate as well as their message. Were you truly inspired by Bernie Sanders' core messages? If so, it might then surprise you that Bernie Sanders' views are actually closely aligned with those of Hillary Clinton. Not only did Hillary and Bernie vote together 93% of the time in the Senate but Hillary actually agrees with Bernie's key issues of raising the minimum wage, moving us toward universal health care, making college more affordable, creating a plan to take on Wall Street, and declassifying marijuana to study its effects. Like Bernie, she supports marriage equality, wants to overturn Citizens United (the Supreme Court case was, after all, brought forth in an effort to spend money against her) and wants to pursue diplomacy first and foremost when it comes to any potential foreign policy issues.
Oh, but it's not Hillary's policies you don't like but it's the person? Odds are you've come to trust Bernie and not Hillary. Well then you'd be surprised to learn that Hillary is the most honest candidate running according to Pulitzer-prize winning Politifact.org. In fact, journalist Jill Abramson, who has frequently investigated Hillary Clinton for her alleged scandals, reached the conclusions that she is "fundamentally honest." A lot of what you hear about Hillary Clinton is unfortunately based off of twenty-five years of Republican smears. That whole issue of Goldman Sachs speeches? Started by none other than Glenn Greenwald's The Intercept. Hillary's "superpredators" comment? That quote was taken out of context from a speech Hillary gave in Keene, New Hampshire. Her ties to big banks on Wall Street? Contributions for this presidential cycle actually shows that the big banks simply aren't contributing large amounts to her campaign. Her big money fundraisers? That money actually is raised to help elect down-ballot candidates. Her excessive use of super PACs? Members of Hillary's own super PAC are saving $70 million for the general election because they know they will need every single cent to compete with Karl Rove and other big wig Republicans who will stop at nothing to bring her down.
So if it's not the issues and it's not the person, what is it then? Is it the fact that you believe both parties are the same? Try telling that to the 4.3 million people in 22 states whose Republican governors are denying them Medicaid. Try telling that to the women in 22 states who have had new provisions put in place to limit access to abortion services. Try telling that to the transgender community who faces discrimination in North Carolina as well as seven other states considering bathroom bills denying this population basic human rights and dignity. Try telling that to low-income and minority voters who will face new voting restrictions in 17 states for the first time in a presidential election. Try telling that to environmentalists who have had research and development stalled thanks to an entire Republican Party that refuses to acknowledge man-made climate change. And try telling that to your fellow Americans who believe that immigrants and Muslims should not be discriminated against simply because of who they are, where they come from, and what they believe.
If none of that convinces you to vote, don't. Nobody will stop you from staying home on Tuesday, November 8th rather than casting your ballot. By staying home, you're admitting that you never believed in what Bernie Sanders was fighting for and that you were simply caught up in the rush to support someone just because others were supporting him as well. At a critical junction in our nation's history, you could help make a difference for yourself and your children but you would rather sit this one out and hope for the best. Or maybe not. Maybe you're in the mold of Susan Sarandon and would like to see the world burn just to prove a point. If you want to be a political arsonist like her, go ahead. It probably won't affect you. Heck you'll even joke about moving to Canada if Donald Trump is elected president. Meanwhile, millions of Americans will wake up on January 20, 2017 and will genuinely fear for their safety and well-being. But hey, you're not one of them so what do you care?
And that ultimately is the point of your Bernie or Bust movement. You don't care. You've proven this by supporting a single candidate and nobody else. You don't care that there's an equally inspirational figure for millions of Americans who is fighting for the exact same issues your candidate is and has been a candidate that has been mercilessly attacked for the sole reason that she is a strong, independent woman. You don't care that the election of a Republican president will mean the loss of healthcare for 20 million Americans. You don't care that the election of a Republican president will potentially remove 11 million of our friends, neighbors, and colleagues from this country. You don't care that a conservative-led Supreme Court would rule against women's health, voting rights, and unions. These are all issues that mean nothing to you. All that matters to you is the fact that your guy didn't win.
So with that selfish mindset, there is no need to try and win you over. Progressives are done holding your hand and telling you how much we need you. We don't. Hillary Clinton will do just fine without your support. In fact, she'll easily win millennials should the general election come down to her and Donald Trump. Therefore, your valiant stand will actually have zero impact on the general election. Many of your fellow Bernie or Bust members will cave and there'll even be some Republicans crossing over after having become disillusioned with what their party has become. After all your pouting and whining over the last month, the media will actually forget that you even existed come November. When all is said and done, you'll simply be a footnote in history, right next to Hillary Clinton supporters who vowed to do the exact same thing after Barack Obama became the Democratic nominee in 2008. Remember them? Of course you don't. Because just like you, they talked a big game but fizzled out in the end. But hey, I'm sure people will be much more likely to remember your efforts, especially if like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton makes history by winning the general election.
If not, at least you'll be able to tell your kids about that one time you didn't vote in an historic election because of your pride.
Folks Who Have Seen Your Kind Before
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