The long and sometimes bitter Democratic nomination process has lately seen both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders exchanging barbs and questioning each other’s qualifications to be President. However, in comparison the clashes of their supporters on-line have made Hillary and Bernie look like a loving couple who are having occasional spats. The lengths to which Sanders supporters have gone on line to discredit Hillary Clinton and her supporters have been remarkable. Sometimes Hillary supporters have replied in kind. Now Sanders’ most enthusiastic supporters are being forced to watch as their beloved candidate, St. Bernie, slips into a death spiral which can only culminate in a fiery crash. To say that they are unhappy is a huge understatement.
The question is, with Sanders in the process of being retired to the sidelines, what will his supporters do? One would think that their only logical course, given the disaster that either a Trump or Cruz Presidency would bring, would be to support the Democrat nominee. However, for many of Sanders’ most zealous supporters, that’s not an easy thing to do. Will the “Berniebots” who convinced themselves that Hillary Clinton is everything from corrupt politician to a corporate whore ever be able to bring themselves to vote for her in the general election? Some, lead by the “Bernie or Bust” crowd, say that they cannot.
Many of these are passionate young people who are new the political game and are not yet able to separate political reality from utopian liberal dreams. Joining them are older far left liberals who have waited their entire lives to support one of their own in a Presidential bid and feel cheated that Sanders did so well, but still fell short. In the course of the campaign both types have convinced themselves that Hillary is evil incarnate. They consider themselves ideologically pure and believe that would be hypocritical for them to vote for such an imperfect candidate. There is a good likelihood that these people will vote third party or simply chose not to vote at all.
If I could, here is what I would tell them:
Here’s the situation folks: Studies indicate that those who self identify as “very liberal” make up 13% or less of the country’s electorate. I am not sure what part of this very small slice of voters consider themselves “ideologically pure”, but it’s probably less than the 13%.
The point I am trying to make is that those who consider themselves as ideologically pure can not win elections with less than 13% of the vote. To have any chance of winning national elections they need to unite with those who self identify as liberal, those who are somewhat liberal, and even those moderates who consider themselves left of center. The only other alternative is to live under a Republican President, a Republican controlled House and Senate, and a Supreme Court controlled by ultra conservatives for the next 20 years.
I for one am probably secure enough financially to have the luxury of surviving life under a Republican controlled federal government. Life will go on; I might even prosper. You might be in the same fortunate circumstances. However, many of the less fortunate are not and are living from paycheck to meager paycheck. Without Obamacare they would have no health insurance and unexpected health problems could quickly lead to a shortened lifespan and financial devastation for their families. Unions which seek to improve their living conditions will be stymied. Some of the elderly who are living on small social security benefits and others who depend on food stamps and school lunch programs to keep help feed their children would be threatened. For some bright children the chance to acquire a college education which could lift them out of poverty will continue to be an impossible dream. As many as 11 million people who have worked far harder than many of us trying to make the American dream a reality for their families could be deported.
Some Sanders supporters seem to believe that voting third party or not voting at all is the only way they can be true to their progressive ideals if Bernie does not become the Democratic Party’s nominee. However, isn’t the first and most important progressive ideal the responsibility to ensure that those less fortunate than ourselves can share in America’s prosperity? How can anyone claim to be an ideologically pure progressive if they fail to honor this most important progressive principle and by their actions or inaction allow this country to fall under total Republican rule? How can anyone claim to be an ideologically pure progressive if they allow ultraconservative Ted Cruz or the totally erratic Donald Trump to become President of the United States>
The old saying is, “we can all hang together or we will hang separately”; it is never truer than in politics. The Republicans are in disarray this election season. If we stick together we can not only elect a Democratic President, but we also have a excellent opportunity to take back the Senate as well. With the right Presidential coattails we should also be able to also make a large dent in the Republican control of the House. Most importantly, the next President will certainly have an opportunity to release the conservative choke hold on the Supreme Court and, with another appointment or two, she will be able to determine the ideological direction of the Court for the next 20 years.
It is nearing the time that we all need to put aside the ill and hurt feeling of a long and often difficult primary process and unite behind the ultimate Democratic nominee for the highest office in the land. If you aren’t supporting the Democratic nominee in the coming general election with your vote , you are part of the problem.