What Now?

The day finally came. Yesterday was the day millions of us dreaded. After a year of hard, passionate work for Bernie Sanders, we saw his rival Hillary Clinton clinch the nomination. Many of us had tears in our eyes as we watched our dream of a better future for our children eaten alive by politics as usual.

I won’t lie — it was emotionally crushing. It came after a week in which our worst fears were confirmed. Despite the cynical mocking from Clinton supporters we’d put up with for months, WikiLeaks confirmed the DNC’s blatant Clinton bias and collusion with the media, while Election Justice USA released their report substantiating numerous allegations of election fraud throughout the 2016 Democratic primaries.

It hurts because so many of us believed that if we joined together, worked hard, and followed the rules, we’d have our candidate and a future we could anticipate eagerly, but this formula is no more certain in elections than in life. Just ask any American drowning in student debt and unable to find full employment. We aren’t hard to find.

The sad fact is we lost. We lost because establishment Democrats are more afraid of a Sanders presidency than they are of a Trump presidency. Let that sink in for a minute: despite starting her campaign with every conceivable advantage and more money than God in her war chest, Hillary Clinton is now trailing Trump in most polls. Perhaps she’ll get a post-convention bounce, or perhaps the primaries were just a test run for election fraud on a more massive scale, but the threat of a Trump presidency is more real now than ever, due to the machinations of the DNC and the choices made by the superdelegates.

The big question is: what now? What do we do with all the passion and energy? How do we stay connected? And, come November, how do we vote?

The Clinton campaign has wasted no time demanding our votes. For anyone who believed in the goals of the Sanders campaign, The Green Party is looking really good. Bernie has just started Our Revolution. Brand New Congress seeks to clean house and fill Congress with progressives. And many of us are eager to shed our connections with the Democratic Party. We have lots of ways to take our ideas forward and bring them to fruition. We need to continue to talk, question, evaluate, and connect, and we need to both look at reality and listen to our hearts.

I’m in Oregon, a reliably Blue state. This gives me some freedom to decide what comes next. As I was only a temporary Democrat, I had no problem leaving the party some time ago. If you are disgusted with the Dems, this is a good strategy and one that makes sense unless you happen to be in a state with an upcoming closed primary with Progressives on the ballot, such as Florida or Washington. This strategy also may protect you from the increasingly hysterical Democratic fundraising appeals-no guarantee, but wouldn’t that be a plus?

I truly believe the two party system is to blame for both the high level of discord in our national politics, and for the godawful choice we’ve been given with two historically disliked candidates as front-runners. Because I believe that we need more viewpoints represented in this country, I joined the Green Party when I left the Dems. Their platform is truly progressive and represents my values and hopes for our country and our planet. I know I’m one of the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of folks to leave the Dems and join the Greens, so there’s some weight to the gesture. I know that I have a level of geographic privilege living on the reliably Blue West Coast, and I think a Green Party vote could support more representative government without risking a Trump presidency. I can only speak for myself, but I absolutely would not feel comfortable with this decision if I lived in a swing state.

I’m not deciding on my presidential vote for November until I have a lot more information. Part of me is waiting for Trump to self-destruct and/or for the next round of emails or investigations to take Clinton out of the picture. I couldn’t say which is more likely at this point, but a girl can dream. Regardless of what may or may not happen, I know I can’t make that decision now, nor do I need to. After the turmoil and heartbreak of recent weeks, that lack of pressure is a gift.

We are lucky in that we still have time to make up our minds. But as we move forward, I think it’s imperative that we all keep a few things front and center in our minds. We all want the best for our communities, even though that may look different from one person to the next. We’ve all been exposed to a filthy, rotten system that we can’t unsee. Many of us are in the process of making serious moral compromises with the best of intentions. We are traumatized and broken-hearted. We can (and should) rage at the establishment, but let’s try to be gentle with one another. In the end, we are all we have.