Bernie or Bust is Blind Idealism at its Finest
The democratic nominating process has been, as it has been for years up until now, largely unfair. A ragtag blend of open and closed primaries and caucuses spread out over an excruciatingly long five months, as well as the continued existence of superdelegates, a bygone relic of times long ago (sorry, Hubert Humphrey), mean that for many, the process can seem disconnected and, at many times, unjust.
Nobody has had to bear the full force of this injustice more than Bernie Sanders (although some of his teary-eyed supporters at the Democratic National Convention may stand a very close second). The immediate resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz (and, it must be added, her subsequent flagellation on the internet) is touted by many as proof that, yet again, Hillary Clinton somehow exercised her Clintonian mind-control to win the election by cheating and corruption, instead of, say, a progressive platform that appealed to thirteen million primary voters across the country, and an olive branch extended to her primary opponent that allowed him to shift the party’s platform even further to the left.
For many voters, the “DNC Scandal” is just the nail in the coffin for a ballot with Clinton’s name on it. This “scandal” is absolutely the last straw, and many would rather vote independent or write Bernie’s name in than vote for the only candidate who has a reasonable chance of preventing America from electing a racist demagogue. It is indeed a noble act to sacrifice your vote — the very distillation of democracy — in order to appease your own idealism, taking a stand against what is seen as corruption and lust for power. Either that, or these people have never heard of Ralph Nader.
Allow me, here, a small digression. WikiLeaks, the organization responsible for the leaked DNC emails, is an incredible tool for democracy, and, like any organization, has its own biases. Along with publishing the emails that exposed the DNC as favouring Clinton, WikiLeaks also provided things like credit card numbers, passport numbers, social security numbers, and home addresses of Democratic donors across the board. This is illegal under 18 U.S.C. Sections 371 and 119, which is illegal whether the act exposes information of federal employees or average citizens.
Not to mention the fact that WikiLeaks has offered support to Milo Yiannopoulos, a conservative nutjob (sorry, journalist), banned not only on college campuses across the country, but from Twitter as well. Unsurprisingly, Yiannopoulos is a vehement Trump supporter, and headlined an event at the Republican National Convention.
I won’t even address the WikiLeaks’ close ties with the Kremlin, because they speak for themselves.
Instead, I ask this — had it been the other way around, say, had the DNC favoured Sanders over Clinton and WikiLeaks published those emails, would you be in the same uproar? Would there be as much talk about the “inherent need for neutrality in the democratic nominating process,” and how often would it be brought up that WikiLeaks, as effective as it might be in theory, is little more than the love-child of Breitbart News and the Kremlin? Would Sanders’ supporters brush away this latest “scandal” because their beloved candidate won?
But my point in writing this is not to point out the obvious flaws of an organization like WikiLeaks. Instead, I address the ‘Bernie or Bust’ movement.
I understand that it is upsetting your candidate lost. I understand that it is even more upsetting that your candidate lost by what looks like an unfair advantage on behalf of the DNC. I understand that somehow, you believe that electing Donald Trump would send a clear enough message about the need for electoral reform (which, I agree, is very real).
But I ask you this, as you plan to write in Sanders’ name on your ballot, or vote for Stein or Johnson:
When Trump deports the millions of undocumented immigrants living in America, would you be comfortable knowing that you could have stopped that?
When Trump abolishes the federal minimum wage (as he has said he will do), would you be able to look a single mother struggling to make ends meet in the eyes, and tell her that you could have prevented that?
When Trump defunds Planned Parenthood, overturns Roe v. Wade, imposes martial law or does any of the other dozens of heinous things he has said he will do — will you sleep soundly at night knowing that the power was in your hands to stop him, and you sacrificed that chance in order to appease your own idealism?
The reality is that you can weather another four or eight years of a Republican presidency. You can stand two terms of President Trump because, really, how is it going to affect you? So maybe the banks face more deregulation, or the minimum wage is abolished, or corporations enjoy even bigger tax breaks. You’ll continue going to college or working a comfortable job, you’ll continue being a full-fledged citizen who won’t have to live in constant fear of deportation (or worse). You’re so far removed from those concerns that the thought of a Republican presidency doesn’t terrify you.
But it should.
I know it’s sad that Bernie lost, I know you see it as unfair and that, for some reason, this is yet more proof that Hillary Clinton belongs in jail.
But while you rant in Facebook posts and the comments section of the New York Times about this “great injustice,” there are millions of people living in America whose lives absolutely hang in the balance of this election.
Nobody is “forcing Clinton down your throats” or “plowing forward in the corrupt Clinton machine.”
We’re asking you to do the very thing you set out to do at the beginning of this election — vote based on policy, not personality.