If You Are “#BernieOrBust”, Take a Long, Hard Look in the Mirror
After reading testaments of the ‘Bernie or Bust’ crowd, I have serious concerns for the Democratic Party to retain the passionate followers of Bernie Sanders, even after he pledged his support to Hillary Clinton. The range of possible reactions I have seen is by far from the crowd who think, somehow, due to Sanders’ primary defeat, they either: (a) vote Trump just because America “deserves” the fate of him to be President; (b) will vote a 3rd Party Candidate due to their emotional disappointment and specified policy alignments; or (c) will not fulfill their civic duty to vote. I find the reasoning for all three above options completely flawed and now I will elaborate on each.
The “Molotov Cocktail Maneuver” and its Flawed Logic
As a lifelong unaffiliated independent, and as somebody sympathetic to the frustration of the ‘Bernie or Bust’ crowd to a degree, however, of all three options, obviously (a) is the most irrational decision of all. If you see politics occupying a political spectrum of “left” and “right”, wake up and realize it’s actually a sphere. You’ve moved so far off the grid that you’ve come out of the woodwork with everyone else associated with supporting the megalomaniac sociopath who resembles a steamed carrot. You took a different path to get there, but right now you‘re pining for the same result.
Are you single, without children, suffering from economic difficulties and feel that you have no future or that the world is against you?
You’re not alone. So are many other people on the planet. However, unlike them, Americans live in a country where it is still possible(especially if you are a white male) to work hard and build an enjoyable, fulfilling and peaceful life. If you help elect the candidate with the same value as a steamed carrot, you aren’t the one who will suffer as a result of it. This isn’t about you it is about our country and its collective future.
If you want a different outcome, then it is your decision to become more involved in local and state politics, to influence the very environment in which your existence and stake in society could still improve.
Is your solution throwing a Molotov cocktail to destroy the (most certainly flawed) government and start again from scratch?
Electing someone whose only experience in ‘cooperation’ is through hierarchy and authoritarian management in the private sector is precisely the flaw which will undo all that our predecessors have fought and died for trying to preserve. Democracy, freedom of speech, equality among gender, races and religions… these are all core tenants this type of overhaul would eliminate.
The election of the first female President in US history guarantees our country a better future. Even if the banking system isn’t overhauled and even if the political system in DC remains rife with lobbyist influence and corruption, there are specific areas which would move forward: education, healthcare, gender equality and immigration. If you somehow think a “new system” built in their image will be an improvement on what exists now, you’re a lunatic because ALL of these areas would be reduced to ashes thanks to your Molotov cocktail of self-pity.
The Ralph Nader Effect — Version 2.0
Again, as an independent I can sympathize with anyone who is attracted to the idea of voting for a 3rd Party Candidate in the 2016 Election. This is simply because I have always waited for a political party in the US to emerge which more accurately reflects my beliefs and policy views. That is part of the problem though — I was always waiting and never contributing to help their emergence. The electoral system we have in place unfortunately does not provide ample opportunities for other parties to emerge on the national stage once every 4 or 8 years. As much as I find Gary Johnson and Jill Stein to be good people, their political parties are not viable in a national election.
For a 3rd Party to have a candidate with a realistic chance of ever getting elected President, they need to first garner success in local and state governments, to build momentum and a forceful presence at the national levels of governance. We are light years away from this reality, and if it is important to you to belong to a 3rd Party, there is nothing wrong with joining it and supporting its efforts on a consistent basis — not once every 4 years.
The problem is principally that most considering a 3rd Party Vote are seeing the 2016 Election like many people saw the 2000 Election: refusing to vote for the lesser of two evils. The frustration many people felt in that election resulted with Green candidate Ralph Nader gathering just enough support to keep Gore from a clear victory over G.W. Bush. You should not forget this scandalous result from the 2000 Election is a big reason we are in this current mess (both wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, No Child Left Behind, etc…).
It seems somehow much more accurate to say in 2016 we are voting between the devil you know and the devil you truly never ever would want to get to know and allow to run your country for 8 years, let alone 4. Casting a vote for a 3rd Party Candidate has the very serious consequence of depriving a flawed, yet much more qualified candidat, who is indisputably the first of her kind, in favor of the very worst imaginable Presidential candidate.
If you live in a state that votes true Democrat blue every election and know for a fact your dissenting vote to a 3rd Party will have no consequence on the outcome of our national elections — I get it. The system is set up in such a way, you can vote with your heart and feel better about it the next day even when your preferred candidate loses. However, if you live in a city or state where your vote makes a difference, there is hardly a good reason to sacrifice your vote to a much less desirable future for the country.
On Not Fulfilling Your Civic Duty
It would have been no problem for me whatsoever to support a Bernie Sanders nomination from the Democratic Party, and as history shows us, it would never have been for Clinton or her followers either. Remember when Obama snagged the nomination from her and she endorsed him anyways? I am completely certain the same would have happened if Sanders had legitimately come out on top. However, the message of Sanders targeted a predominantly white population, while failing to capture a broader swath of the Democratic Party’s base of minorities. This is what cost him the nomination — not the foul play or shenanigans of the Democratic Party.
Sanders played the spoiler card and declared as a Democrat despite being an outsider never having experience in that party. Many supporters followed suit and themselves only joined the Democratic Party to support him. It is a natural consequence of our electoral system that he fell short of capturing the support the established decades-old party members.
I too have my doubts about Hillary’s honesty and found her e-mail scandals revealing and close ties with Wall Street and private interest groups troubling. However, it would be inexcusable to write her off as a competent candidate for these reasons alone — especially because politicians are generally never immune from scandals. However, refusing to show up to vote on account of problems with an electoral system that have always been there is preposterous. Just coming to terms with the flawed nature of American democracy now is no excuse for not fulfilling your civic duty to vote for the next US President. We have seen in the past, lower voter turnouts in elections largely favors Republican candidates. If you aren’t voting for the Republican candidate because deep down you know it will not bring about anything good for our country, and you joined the Democratic Party for that very reason, why on Earth would you let your vote go to waste and potentially risk letting that reality come true?
I expected immaturity and intolerance from delegates at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. I expected discontent from Sanders delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. However, I did not expect so many, especially newly registered Democrats, to consider the Molotov Cocktail Maneuver, a 3rd Party Candidate or neglecting their civic duty entirely. I’ve always been critical of our electoral system and embedded lobbyist apparatus functioning and driving policy in DC. However, I’ve never more clearly understood the dire consequences of standing aside to allow the current Republican candidate to steamroll all our country’s values.
If Sanders himself endorsed the Democratic Presidential Candidate, the least you can do is exactly what he asks of you: to vote responsibly.
Kyiv — 07/2016