Dear BernieBros: On Behalf of the Progressive Movement

Dear Friends,

My name is Evan, and I am fourteen years old. I am a volunteer with the Pennsylvania Democrats in downtown Philadelphia. I’m reaching out to you to talk about the ‘Bernie or Bust’ movement, and how its message affects many different types of Americans.

Now, before I speak further, I’d like to say one thing: please engage with my message. Assuming you’re willing to listen, I’ll continue:

So, supporters of the ‘Bernie or Bust’ movement have set on supporting Bernie Sanders, and Bernie Sanders alone. This is a mistake for several reasons. For one, Sanders has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President, and urged his supporters to vote for her. But, let’s set that aside for a moment. Another reason is that the majority of you are willing to accept the disastrous effects of a possible Trump presidency. That suggests that you are relatively insulated from those effects, and that insulation blinds you to those who aren’t.

Let me explain. Your own insulation prevents you from thinking about those who would be devastated by a Trump presidency. Take people with disabilities, like me (I live with cerebral palsy). Trump finds it entertaining to mock and belittle us, coupled with his multiple violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Take the many African-Americans in my city, Philadelphia. Trump’s ‘outreach’ to African-American voters has consisted of speaking to token-white audiences and painting an unrealistically negative picture of African-American life in this country. Take my friends of the LGBTQ community, who would be denied their basic right to love whomever they want. Take my friends of Mexican heritage, who would be removed from this country in which they have tried to start a new life.

So what’s my point? My point is that by abstaining from going to the polls and voting for Hillary Clinton on November 8, you will be, indirectly, adding momentum to the Trump campaign. Every vote that Hillary Clinton doesn’t get increases Trump’s chances of winning. You will be putting people unlike yourselves at further risk for turmoil. By not voting, you will give the impression that the issues I have mentioned and the people affected by them don’t matter to you; that all that matters is that your candidate didn’t win.

Take my family, who has supported Hillary Clinton since 2008. When Barack Obama won the Democratic Nomination that year, my family didn’t stew over Hillary’s defeat; they helped unite the party behind Obama. A united Democratic Party will stand a better chance of defeating Donald Trump, which, I hope, is a necessity that you and Clinton supporters alike recognize.

However, here in 2016, you have stood by Sanders and attacked Hillary Clinton since the nomination, even when he himself united with Hillary behind the common goal of defeating the radical bully on the other side, and urged you to do the same. This is illogical because the two are both progressives. They voted together 93% of the time in the Senate according to a New York Times analysis; and Hillary actually agrees with Bernie on his key issues, such as raising the minimum wage, making college more affordable, and others. The blatant irony is that by refusing to vote this November, you show that you never really believed in what Bernie was fighting for.

If you have considered everything I have said, and still want the message of your movement to be that you will support Bernie and Bernie alone, I would offer you this: polls show that ‘Bernie or Bust’ supporters make up just one in four of his original supporters. That means that three-quarters of Bernie supporters have swallowed their disappointment, and unified to help achieve the common goal of defeating Trump. Even so, this election has been very unpredictable, along with the Republican nominee. That’s why every vote is crucial in this election.

I’ve also reached out to you because I want to spread open-mindedness and the understanding that uniting is crucial to achieving a common goal. Five, ten years from now, instead of being swept into history as the people who refused to unify the Democratic Party, you can be championed as people who helped to move the country forward by helping to elect the first woman President. You will be part of an effective progressive movement that made its ideals into reality. We are stronger together.

Warm regards,

Evan