To my progressive and liberal friends who support Bernie Sanders: I’m starting to get a little worried. You see, I see some of you spending a lot of time talking about Hillary Clinton as though she is the enemy. And I get why you’re concerned about her in the primary. I really do.
I understand why you prefer Bernie to her as president. In a better world, I would too. His values line up with mine better than Hillary’s do when it comes to economic issues. It should be pretty clear that I’m every bit the Democratic Socialist. We only disagree in how effective someone of Bernie’s temperament and self-identification could be in the job.
What has me worried is that there’s so much on which Bernie and Hillary agree and which I think we agree is important: education, reproductive issues, the Voting Rights Act, immigration, campaign finance reform, gay rights, gun control, equal pay, minimum wage hikes, protecting Social Security and Medicare, strengthening/improving the ACA, Affirmative Action, pursuing hate crimes, medical marijuana, climate change, Keystone, subsidized child care, TPP, NAFTA (yes, they were BOTH against it, check the record), Citizens United, veterans’ issues, the list goes on.
These are all issues on which these two are in agreement, but the gulf between them and the Republicans is vast. Much as the gulf between what you want and what the Republicans say they will do on these issues is vast. And yet, what I am hearing is that Hillary Clinton is the enemy and that she must be stopped at all costs.
Maybe that’s not what you mean when you talk about her as though she is single-handedly responsible for the abuses of Wall Street. As though she created a complex system of laws which protect the 1 percent and the corporate interests that chew the rest of us up to feed the gaping maw that is rampant capitalism.
As though she alone is responsible for the crimes committed against those who spoke out in the last decade. As though she is the only prop holding up the system of economic oppression that has been grinding away at us since… well, think about it. How far back would you trace it? Because as far as I can tell, its roots are prehistorical.
Am I apologizing for her positions on Wall Street? Hell, no. I don’t like them. I don’t support them. And I think having Bernie stand up and articulate in a clear voice what’s wrong with them is doing this country a public service for which I would like to thank him personally. I respect the man greatly for what he is doing and I do not have a single criticism of him. Not one. In fact, I will likely vote for him in the primary.
But he will likely lose that primary. (You may disagree, and that’s fine, that’s a different discussion, as you’ll see in a moment.)
And that’s why I’m worried.
Because throughout this campaign, Bernie and Hillary have been careful not to criticize each other too much, and there’s a reason for that. They understand that, regardless of who wins the primary, a Democrat — someone who will nominate Supreme Court Justices who will overturn Citizens United — must win the White House.
They know that whether it means Bernie’s outright, in-your-face-Democratic Socialism or Hillary’s too-lax oversight of the banks, one of them must be in the White House to stop the systematic disenfranchisement of black, Hispanic, and poor Americans. They get that one area of disagreement does not negate the many, MANY areas in which they have been working together for years and in which they have very similar visions for America — visions similar to your own.
So when, instead of talking about why you like Bernie, you vilify Hillary and talk about why voting for her is just as bad as voting for Bush or Trump or some other Republican, I’m scared. Because not only do you seem to be misrepresenting both Hillary and the GOP’s very divergent stances, but you’re actually misrepresenting Bernie’s own stance.
He’s not attacking Hillary like that. He’s not saying the things you are about her. Not just because they largely aren’t true — but because he has already said that, if he loses the primary, he will not run as an independent. He will support whoever wins the Democratic nomination, and if it’s not him, it will be Hillary.
And every curse that Bernie’s supporters have hurled at Hillary during the primary will be used by the GOP to try to take her down. She’s weathered a lot. She might weather that.
What she will not survive is the thing that has me so frightened: that Bernie’s supporters — that you — will not follow Bernie’s example, and vote for the Democratic nominee. That you will believe all the rhetoric you have been spinning about how she’s no different than the Republicans. That it doesn’t make a difference if it’s her or another Bush in the White House for the next four or eight years.
Because, while I agree with you that our economic policies are of vital importance, they are not the only issues in this election. They are not the only things that create misery in this country. They are not the only injustices that have gone on too long. They are not the only things that need fixed and need fixed now.
So please, support your candidate. Sing his praises to the sky. Talk about his track record and his vision and what he could do for this country. But remember that the primary is not the whole game.
In fact, remember that this is not a game.
That this is not about your guy winning or taking your ball and going home. This is about making our country — all of it, in a lot of different arenas — a better place. And that either of them will be far better for the majority of this country than the alternative.