An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders
Having donated several times to your campaign, I’d like to offer you this reflection, so as to bring some completion to our virtual relationship.
I’m not sure who your recent editorial in the LA Times is aimed at, given that I imagine the people who’ll be moved by its message already have been. Yes, Trump is a clown and a menace. Still, it’s telling that you don’t even mention the issues so many of your supporters are hung up on.
‘Free trade’ deals like TPP, for example, opposition to which formed one of the main themes of your campaign, doesn’t make it into your essay, except perhaps in this less-than-categorical construction: “On virtually every major issue facing this country and the needs of working families, Clinton’s positions are far superior to Trump’s.” You may have forgotten about TPP, Senator, but we haven’t… and we know that Terry McAuliffe was telling the truth about Hillary supporting it again after the election. Same thing happened during the 2008 Democratic primary campaign regarding NAFTA. We remember.
Then there’s this: “Clinton understands that Citizens United has undermined our democracy. She will nominate justices who are prepared to overturn that Supreme Court decision, which made it possible for billionaires to buy elections.”
Suddenly we’re supposed to believe that a Democratic party led by Hillary Clinton is going to get big money out of politics? Well, then, why the fuck did we bother criticizing her on her connections to Wall Street?
Seriously, Bernie, you should have toned down the rhetoric if you didn’t really mean it. Don’t say “revolution”; don’t inveigh again and again against “establishment politics”; don’t say your opponent is “not qualified to be president” if you don’t fucking mean it. Because that’s the thing: we thought you were a person who meant what he said. That’s what made you special. That’s what made you revolutionary.
No doubt many people who supported you will vote for Clinton out of fear of Trump. It’s a rational call, in my view. Still, to say those of your supporters who don’t are merely “disappointed by the final results of the nominating process,” while accusing them of “being despondent and inactive,” is to betray the ethos of the movement you triggered.
Finally, you completely (if predictably) ignore the YUGE sticking point for many of your former supporters: voter suppression and fraud. I know your mission of stopping Trump depends on you not touching that issue with even the longest of rhetorical poles. But just because you have to, at least, act unaware doesn’t mean that we, in reality, are.
So understand this: you’re not speaking to a bunch of “despondent and inactive” people, but a bunch of people who believed in your message of political revolution against “establishment politics” and “establishment economics.” A bunch of people who are mad as hell about a system that seems, quite literally, rigged.