Bernie or Bust: Where Do We Go Now?

Until very recently, I was revved up and ready to vote for Jill Stein. That is still my intention and hope. But, in the last week, I’ve moved closer to the fence.

An old friend of mine (who’s black) said that I could do that because of my privilege. I had to admit that even if it wasn’t a conscious privilege (“I can do this because it really won’t have an affect on me”), it could be a subconscious privilege (“I can do this because it really won’t have an affect on me. In fact, I’m not even having this thought because of my privilege.”). That gave me pause.

That was followed two days later by Shaun King’s article about voting for Hillary Clinton. I’ve really grown to respect Shaun King. And he is as stalwart a Bernie supporter as I’ve seen. That, too, gave me pause.

If we really care about our brothers and sisters in the Black Lives movement (and a special shout-out to Harlem For Bernie), if we really care about our Muslim brothers and sisters (particularly those in Dearborn, who highlighted that Bernie’s positive message is meaningful and resonates), if we care about our brothers and sisters or whoever they are at the moment (calm down, it’s just a joke) in the LGBT community, we must, at least, consider Hillary Clinton.

Here’s where we are right now:

  1. Jill Stein will not become President
  2. Gary Johnson will not become President
  3. Hillary Clinton may or may not become President
  4. Donald Trump may or may not become President

In the big picture, I know that Jill Stein and the Green Party have a better vision for our country than either Trump or Clinton. Those values are important. And I’ve long contended that our values will never become policy until we vote for them en masse. I still feel that way. I do not want to miss this opportunity. I want to start conveying that message in a big way. Now. Not four years from now.

I have definite concerns about our democracy at large. Did Clinton and the DNC literally cheat us out of electing Bernie Sanders? We know that the DNC definitely had their foot on the gas peddle, but were the voter purges and fewer polling places in some states actually orchestrated by Clinton and/or the DNC? We really don’t know (and I’d like it to be investigated by credible news organization(s)).

We, as a group, do not want to fall into complete paranoia. Showing a video that voting machines can be hacked is not the same as showing a video proving that hacking had to have been done. So we know they can be hacked, we don’t really know that they have been hacked, but we suspect they have. To be sure, we have to keep our eyes open. But we shouldn’t have certainty where, at this point, none is to be had. I suspect the same things. And if that is true, Hillary is ill-equipped to lead this country. I absolutely could not vote for her. But nothing has been proven.

I’ve noticed that some of us have turned our backs on Bernie because he has sold out. I don’t view it that way. I think Bernie maximized his influence on Clinton policy and the DNC platform. This was confirmed by Jane Sanders in her interview with Rolling Stone. It isn’t about him — it was never about him. It has always been about us. While the strongest theme Bernie used for Clinton was that she was not Trump, I think it verifies that Bernie views Trump as a very clear and present danger. If part of the revolution has to go through Clinton, so be it. Bernie doesn’t let his ego get in the way of progress on his issues and neither should our pride. Bernie has made his ideas “Clinton’s ideas.” Bernie gave her ownership of those ideas. She must follow through.

I also hate to see Bernie and his supporters’ work with the DNC go to waste. It is a pretty damn progressive platform. It isn’t ideal, but a peaceful revolution takes time. If we, through Clinton, make real progress on some of our issues in the next four years, that will be positive and productive.

But, one major thing that has not been addressed is campaign finance reform. This is a big issue for all of us, no matter our political proclivities. The fact that Hillary has laundered millions through the DNC for her Hillary Victory Fund goes against our very grain. And it is a condemnation for both Hillary and the DNC. I don’t want to vote for that bullshit.

But we have made significant progress on the DNC platform. Just because nobody has spent any time referencing it in past Presidencies, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it now. The good thing about a platform is that it is in writing.

I am so pissed that we will not have Bernie going against the Republicans, running on clear liberal values and principles. I thought Democrats had been frothing like hydrophobic dogs for someone like Bernie Sanders to run on our principles and and our values. Boy was I wrong (and right). It is ironic that Democrats viewed Clinton as the “safest” choice when, in fact, the safest choice is Bernie Sanders. We could have won — on our values. If Clinton wins, it will be a watered down version of our values.

Bernie and Jane Sanders are extremely good and decent people. Jane could have been the next Eleanor Roosevelt (if you know your history, this is a high compliment). It breaks my heart that these two tremendous people will not #OccupyWhiteHouse.

We need to think tactically.

Questions:

  1. How will the Democratic Party view us if Hillary loses? As spoilers? Or a group that they need to contend with?
  2. How will the Democratic Party view us if Hillary wins? As non-issues that encourage them to give us more of the same? Or a group that they need to contend with? (It probably depends on the size of the win)
  3. How do we feel about ourselves if Trump wins? Did we just fuck ourselves and other ancillary organizations like BLM? Or did we prove that Democrats or other liberals need us?
  4. How do we feel about ourselves if Hillary wins? Do we feel dirty and nasty because a person who doesn’t completely share our values is now in charge? Or do we feel like, hey, we were able to vote our conscience and the worst person didn’t win?

We don’t know. But I’d like to see more productive discussion about our strategies.

I wish we could split our votes. A half-vote for Clinton, a leading candidate could almost be counted as a vote of non-confidence. A half-vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson would reflect something much closer to our true values. Something like that could have real political implications. “This is what we really want, but we know it won’t win this particular election.”

Having said all this, I must consider voting for Hillary. But, I won’t make any judgments. If you’re a Bernie supporter who votes for Clinton, I respect you and your choice. I refuse to condemn you. If you’re a Johnson voter, I respect you and your choice. I refuse to condemn you. If you are a Bernie supporter who votes for Trump, I hope you rot in hell (even though, technically, I don’t believe in hell). You are being venal, vengeful and petty. You are voting against everything we believe in (if you believe Trump is going to continue running without corporate money, you’re wrong). That would be the antithesis of what I believe a Bernie voter should be.

In any event, I’ll make my final decision based on polls at the end of October. If you’re even thinking about voting for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson and you get a call from a polling firm, tell them you’re voting for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. Those numbers will make a real difference on the way a lot of us vote. I’m willing to sacrifice my pride if it keeps Trump out of the White House. If it’s close, I’m voting for Hillary. If she has breathing room, I’m going for Jill Stein.

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