Bernie or Bust: Why It’s Not “Ridiculous”
Almost infamously at this point, on Monday night during the Democratic National Convention, Sarah Silverman quipped that the supporters of Bernie Sanders who refuse to throw their support behind Secretary Clinton are being “ridiculous”.
I understand what she’s saying, truly I do. I also understand why so many other Sanders supporters are throwing their support behind Clinton; because the alternative is horrifying. That does not, however, mean that the Sanders supporters who refuse to throw in their lot with Secretary Clinton are being ridiculous, it simply means they’re tired of compromising. They’re tired of, to borrow from many Trump supporters “politics as usual”. The issue with Secretary Clinton is just that; she’s more of the same.
While I don’t necessarily believe Mrs. Clinton is as dishonest, wishy-washy and evil as some of the more right leaning thinkers do, I do not think that she has the same kind of integrity that Senator Sanders does. Very rarely in American politics are we able to find someone who has been so consistent in his views for so long. Secretary Clinton certainly can’t say that. Over the last decade she’s gone from opposing same-sex marriage and support of the LGBTQ community to endorsing it. From calling herself a moderate to saying she’s progressive (a la Senator Sanders).
While Secretary Clinton has flipped and flopped her way through her last decade after her husband left office, and she entered, Senator Sanders has remained consistent over nearly his entire life. As early as 1962, Sanders has fought against the oppression of minorities. While in various offices over the course of 35+ years, he’s been consistent in his advocacy for the rights of lesbians and gays, and was well ahead of his time in doing so. In the early 80s, while still the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, he declared a “gay pride day”. This in a time where many still believed that AIDS was a strictly homosexual disease, and attitudes toward homosexuals were often negative. Gallop polls covering as many as the last 40 years show that even in the mid-to-late nineties, only 31% of Americans believed homosexuals were born that way, while at the same time a whopping 68% of Americans thought homosexual marriages should be invalid, without the same rights as traditional marriage.
While talking about consistency in viewpoints may be enough for some, lets look at funding. Secretary Clinton’s funding during her campaign topped $330,000,000, with almost 30% of that coming from SuperPACs. Meanwhile, Sanders was able to raise more than $220,000,000 with less than one tenth of one percent coming from SuperPACS, meaning 99.9% of his contributions came from exactly who any candidate for president should be working for: the citizens. Meanwhile other candidates (Jeb Bush), had more than 93% of funds come from SuperPACs.
Finally, there is the issue of just what Senator Sanders has been able to do during his campaign. He has single handedly been the most revolutionary candidate to hit the national stage in the history of American politics. Sanders has pushed issues he’s believed in (and been scoffed at) for years. He brought issues to the national attention that likely would have remained buried for a long time to come. He even saw the corruption his own (temporary) party wrought against him before it came out within the last week. He’s raised issues to national prominence; issues his opponent(s) would have never had to address, and be all too happy not to, if not for Senator Sanders.
The most impressive thing he’s been able to do, however, is get people to believe in a politician again. Not since Johnson’s lies about Vietnam and the Watergate scandal have people trusted a politician the way the Senator has been. Sanders has seen ratings as high as 59% favorability, while Hillary has never seen numbers above 46%. Even more remarkable, he’s been able to get people interested in politics and the issues facing America than any candidate before him. His rallies often filled with young people barely old enough to vote, and sometimes not even old enough. We’re talking about an age group who is often maligned as lazy, narcissistic and outright disinterested in anything becoming interested in the loathed issue of politics.
So, Sarah Silverman, is it really all that ridiculous to refuse to throw your support for someone consistent, honest, trustworthy, grassrooty (made up a new word!), inspiring and revolutionary behind someone who is the antithesis of those things? Why should they settle? Why should they allow more “politics as usual” when they’ve found someone who is everything but?