Scorched Earth

Lately, I’ve heard several acquaintances repeatedly state that if Senator Sanders doesn’t get the Democratic Presidential nomination, they absolutely will refuse to vote for the Democratic nominee or, worse yet, they are willing to sabotage this country and vote for the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. This trend is deeply troubling. I’ve called out the myth of the Bernie Bro previously, because I don’t believe that there’s an actual gender aspect to it that’s beyond surface deep. I think, however, there is a deeper read available for us in many of Senator Sanders’ supporters’ minds – and, full disclosure, I am a supporter of Senator Sanders. This read transcends gender, race, and creed. It is the complete and utter distrust that many of the Senator’s supporters have of the status quo.

To them, the status is not quo. It is bad, very bad, and an election of Hillary Clinton is tantamount to an election of Donald Trump.

I’m not going to try dispelling that idea. I think Mr. Trump’s words can speak for themselves against Senator Clinton’s. Do I think that Senator Clinton has some deeply troubling ethical issues stemming from acts during her tenure as Secretary of State? Yes. Do I worry that for all of the talk that Senator Clinton has laid down, tacking to the left over the course of the primary, she will be as faithless to her base as Senator Sanders’ supporters are threatening to be to the country? Absolutely. I have no doubt that Senator Clinton will tack to the center and govern from a center-right, that she will continue to be a Wall Street Democrat, and that she will be more hawkish than the base Democrat will like. But against a candidate who has declared that his modus operandi is chaos, who wants the United States to behave as a rogue nation, who talks out of both sides of his mouth in total incoherence, who offers vitriol and rage without solutions, who seems to be out to prove that America was emasculated by the Obama presidency – someone who is utterly and totally unqualified to be President – Hillary Clinton is an infinitely better option.

A Donald Trump presidency is not a risk I am willing to take. Not now. Not ever.

Why this post? I think most people who know me know that I am a dedicated liberal, a progressive without question. I write this post to those who do not believe that I am an affirmed and proud progressive, those who feel compelled to question why I would support Senator Clinton in the general election versus Jill Stein or some other third party candidate. I am progressive, but I am also pragmatic. This election is the fourth where I have been an active participant. The lay of the land is clear to me. I could truly vote my conscience and encourage people to vote with Jill Stein with me, but there aren’t enough people to turn that into a win. The lay of the land is clear to me. I would rather swallow a bitter pill and sit through 4 years of a Hillary Clinton presidency, all the while working to get more progressive candidates into the House of Delegates, State Senate, and Congress, than I would ever deign the notion of a Trump presidency. The stakes are far too high to allow someone as tiny and petty as Donald Trump become the representative of our country.

I would welcome a Clinton presidency over a Trump presidency. Without question and without hesitation.

That being said, the Democratic presidential primaries are far from over. There remains a long slog ahead for whoever ends up being the nominee. My hope is that Bernie Sanders will be the standard-bearer for the Democratic Party this fall. But if Hillary Clinton is? So what? The choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump or between Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz is, to me, not a choice. I see it as an obligation of my progressivism to not let a Republican win. If the Green Party wants to have a chance, they need to start winning elections at the local level. Same for Libertarians. Same for any other third, fourth or fifth party. The work is hard, the work is endless, but the fruit of those labors is far greater than the work itself.

But right now, the lay of the land doesn’t support a national Green Party victory. Or Libertarian Party. The lay of the land is what it is. This hand is the hand we have dealt ourselves and we must play that hand.

Blame the media. Blame the corporatocracy – or whatever neologism that you choose to coin describing the collusion of big money and politics. But accept some blame for yourself if Bernie doesn’t win. Politics is about getting people together to vote with you. If you haven’t gotten enough people together, you don’t win. The Clintons get that. Senator Sanders’ supporters need to understand that as well. Tossing around the notion of winning the convention by using superdelegates subverts the very ideas that you, supporters of Senator Sanders, claim to cling to about democracy. The Democratic Party’s presidential nomination process is not democratic, just like how the Electoral College isn’t democratic. But because you are not getting your way does not mean that you are entitled to subvert democracy. Leave that to the other guys. Win elections fairly. Win elections by convincing people that your candidate is their candidate, too. Similarly, petulance about Senator Clinton winning spilling over into either a) not voting or b) voting for Trump, subverts the work that you’ve tried to accomplish. Play the damn game. Play it to win it. And if you don’t, don’t be a sore loser.

Because it’s a long way to November.

-R

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