It’s ok to say you’ll vote for Hillary
I hate that I have to do this, but as a post-Bernie supporter of Hillary Clinton, I’ve got to show my Bernie creds before making a case to vote for Hillary, so I won’t be blown off as a “Hillbot for $hillary.”
My Bernie Creds
I’ve known and followed Bernie in the Senate for some time. I always looked up to him as a true progressive champion, fighting against the party establishment. I chuckled at his subdued announcement to run for President, but knew that he was going to be my guy.
I donated early and often to Bernie’s campaign, and joined my fellow supporters on reddit at r/SandersForPresident. The talk there was about how the revolution needed to recruit people to run for Congress to have any real change. So I joined a group at r/GrassRootsSelect, and started helping them map out progressive candidates across the United States. We knew the only way Bernie could accomplish his revolutionary agenda would be to get people into Congress that would champion his cause, and help to pass real legislation.
In hindsight, I wish I could’ve done more for Bernie. In 2008, I phone-banked and walked precincts for Obama. I went to multiple rallies and local party meetings to support him. I even went to Denver to volunteer for the DNC, and found myself on the convention floor when Obama came out to accept the nomination. It was amazing!
This time around was different though. I wasn’t the young single guy with barely any responsibilities or social life that I was in 2008. I had a full time job, a fiancé, a car payment, a mortgage payment, and a cute little dog that relied on me. So I left this fight to the younger generation, while I did what I felt I could. I saw their passion and how they were organizing online, so I wasn’t worried.
I was sad and angry when Bernie started losing and I’d hear about voters being purged from the rolls, or finding their party affiliation changed. But I knew these tricks from 2008. They weren’t new to me and felt like just part of the battle we needed to win, like Obama did. I didn’t think they would have a significant enough impact to change the outcome of the election. I still don’t know if they did.
Hillary won by nearly 3.8 million votes. That’s 13.5% of all votes cast. Yes, the DNC didn’t play fair. Yes, there was definitely some shenanigans going on with voter rolls, but not enough to disenfranchise 3.8 million people from voting for Bernie. Yes, there were some alarmingly high error rates comparing votes to exit polls, but not enough to swing 1.9 million votes Bernie’s way. We put up a good hard fight, but Bernie didn’t win.
Bernie lost. Our revolution didn’t.
With the support of Bernie, his delegates ensured one of the most progressive Democratic platforms in generations. While it’s not exactly what it would’ve been under a Bernie nomination, we should feel ecstatic with how far left we moved the needle.
Our platform includes support for raising the minimum wage to $15. That’s what Bernie supported.
Our platform includes support for equal pay for equal work, for women and people of color. That’s what Bernie supported.
Our platform includes paid family and medical leave. That’s what Bernie supported.
Our platform strengthens Social Security by taxing millionaires and billionaires. That’s what Bernie supported.
Our platform will fight against the greed and recklessness of Wall Street. That’s what Bernie supported.
Our platform supports a tax on Wall Street to curb excessive speculation. That’s what Bernie supported.
Our platform supports breaking up too-big-to-fail banks. That’s what Bernie supported.
Our platform supports eliminating tax breaks for big oil and gas companies. That’s what Bernie supported.
Our platform opposes any trade agreements that don’t support American jobs and increase wages, including the TPP. That’s what Bernie supported.
Our platform supports reforming our criminal justice system, ending the era of mass incarceration, and ending the school-to-prison pipeline. That’s what Bernie supported.
Our platform supports overturning Citizens United. That’s what Bernie supported.
Our platform supports the fight against climate change, and moving us to a clean energy economy. That’s what Bernie supported.
Our platform supports healthcare for all and a public option, which is pretty much the same thing as the medicare-for-all that Bernie supported.
Our platform supports debt-free college for all, free community college for all, and free tuition to public colleges and universities for working families. It’s a bit more nuanced, but is pretty close to what Bernie supported.
If you are a Bernie supporter and haven’t read the platform, I urge you to do so. You’ll hear Bernie’s voice in your head as you read it.
Why you should want to vote for Hillary
The people at r/GrassRootsSelect had it right. The most important thing we can do as Berniecrats, is to get other Berniecrats elected to Congress. The more progressives we can elect, the more power we have to shape America to our vision.
It would be amazing if we elected every Berniecrat on the ballot, (especially Tim Canova, whose waging a great battle against DWS!). That said, if we won back control of Congress on the backs of Berniecrats, while losing the White House to Trump, we’ll still have lost the election.
Trump will veto any legislation he’s told to, and we wouldn’t be able to implement any substantial changes from our platform. In two years, we’d have to fight like hell to keep control of Congress. In four years, the Democrats would have to move further right to battle an incumbent Republican President, and our progressive platform will be scrapped.
We can’t let that happen. We’ve fought too hard for this.
Hillary isn’t who we wanted to lead our revolution, but as President, she’ll sign any progressive bills the Congress sends her. And that’s the only way the revolution continues.
So to the #BernieOrBust hold outs, I see you. I hear you. I feel you. I understand you. I was you.
In 2000, I voted for Ralph Nader. I didn’t like Bush, and I thought Al Gore was too middle of the road for me. I wanted true progressive values in my President. So I cast a protest vote for a man I knew had no chance of being elected President.
I paid penance for that vote for the next 8 years by having to write letter after letter, and make call after call to my representatives in Congress because of the horrific path our country took. I made up sign after and sign from one street protest to another, and even found myself in a jail cell on Day X of the invasion of Iraq.
I still feel stupid. I didn’t think one little protest vote could mean so much, but it changed the course of our country so profoundly in the wrong direction that we are still recovering from it. And in 2004, the Democrats didn’t put up a more progressive candidate to appease the progressives. They put up a staunch centrist, named John Kerry.
The point I’m making is simple. We’ve been here before. If we don’t elect Hillary, we’ll have enacted the nuclear option on progressive ideals by letting Trump win. It’ll take decades to recover from that.
Hillary is not my first choice, but she’s now my only choice. I don’t truly believe she’s a bad person. I know she cares about the American people, and most importantly, I know she’ll be a much better President than Trump.
And that’s why I’m ok with saying, “I’m with her.”