If we vote Bernie, we have to own it

I came very close to passing up Bernie’s big dreams for the sake of rationality last week. But in the end, I sent in my ballot for the Vermont primary with a vote for Bernie, thanks to my naive faith in America’s most unreliable electorate. (I’m not kidding.)

Like many millennials, I initially jumped at the opportunity to support a candidate whose vision and views on issues are almost exactly aligned with my own beliefs about what America should look like. I’ve also been a long-time supporter of Bernie and am especially inspired by his enthusiasm to reform the way our campaigns are financed. But something about seeing Hillary’s name on my absentee ballot last week made me stop and think: by passing up an opportunity to support an icon of the Democratic establishment, am I jeopardizing the Democratic Party’s chance of winning the general election?

I realize that Bernie’s campaign is, or at least was, largely symbolic and that his chances of winning the nomination are slim at best. (For more on Bernie’s slim chance, just ask any Political Science professor here.) But I think we should at least consider what happens if Bernie becomes the nominee.

Voting for Bernie, the democratic socialist from Vermont, essentially means that you think the current political system (largely controlled by wealthy individuals and corporate interests) isn’t working. You reject the consumerist, me-first way of life of our parents’ generation and envision a more sustainable, more caring, and more economically just America. You recognize, given the degree to which the American political spectrum has shifted rightward, that Bernie’s progressive proposals — such as free college tuition and universal health care — really aren’t that radical after all — and should be taken seriously.

Voting for Hillary, at least for me, would have meant that I was content with the pragmatic, incremental changes that she’s proposed, and that I was skeptical of Bernie’s ability to beat a Republican nominee — and maybe even his ability to run the country.

In the final moments before casting my vote, holding my pen over the bubbles on my ballot, it was Bernie’s dubious electability in a general election that almost gave Hillary my vote. Even former MIT Professor and social activist Noam Chompsky admitted in a recent interview with TruthDig that Hillary would likely have an easier time defeating a Republican nominee.

A lot of my concern stems from the fact that Bernie has yet to be tested. If Bernie’s the Democratic nominee, Big Money will throw an insane amount of negative advertising at uninformed Americans — advertising that will likely associate Bernie with the apocalypse, a false description of the New Deal socialism that he actually stands for, and who knows what else.

That’s what we Bernie supporters could be up against in the general election.

Fortunately, millennials now make up about 36 per cent of eligible voters. If we were to vote at our capacity, we’d be the country’s largest voting bloc.

So, essentially, the choice is ours.

But, if like me, you do vote for Bernie, you have to own it. If Bernie wins because of idealistic people like us, then we must translate our faith into action. That means we not only have to turnout in a general election, but we must also inspire our friends to do the same.