As you all can no doubt tell, I’m just not as plugged into politics as I used to be. I still follow big things. I’ve been reading a lot about the Panama Papers and I want to write about it. But things on the edge get past me. And one of those things that has gotten past me is the Bernie or Bust movement. It’s not that I didn’t know it existed. It’s that I didn’t know that people were actually serious about it. I’m shocked to find that they are.
As you all know, I’m a big Bernie Sanders supporter. I’ve not only been very vocal about that, but he’s the first presidential candidate that I’ve given money to since 1988. That’s right kiddos: almost 30 years! But there is no question that if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, that I will vote for her in the general election. Of course, I actually think far more highly of Clinton than a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters. So let’s make it really clear. Let’s take someone I absolute despise: Andrew Cuomo. It’s not just his policies, which are pretty bad on economic issues (though not always); it’s that I hate him in a visceral way. But despite what I’ve said in the past, if the choice were him and Trump, Cruz, or any of the Republicans, I would hold my nose and vote for Cuomo.
My question for the Bernie or Bust people is, “What do you think you will be accomplishing?” But I think I already know. I think they look at the Republican Party and think, “The hard right conservatives did the same thing to the Republicans and they won!” The problem with that idea is that it is totally wrong. The hard right didn’t take over the Republican Party by not voting for Nixon and Ford. They took over the party election by election at from the very lowest levels of the party. Not voting or voting for some third party candidate in the presidential race is not going to send any kind of message to the Democratic Party.
And what — Just what?! — do the Bernie or Bust people think this election was all about? To me, they sound like the silly Carey Wedler who thought that all we had to do is elect the right president and then all our dreams would come true. We aren’t living in a Disney animated feature. This isn’t about Bernie Sanders, even as much as I admire him. This is about a movement in the Democratic Party. And it is that movement that matters.
Polling indicates that Sanders is the preferred choice of about 40% of the Democratic Party. What that represents is the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. And that means we have more than enough power to take over the party. For one thing, a lot of people won’t vote for Sanders for a lot of non-ideological reasons (eg, the “S” word, the chance to elect the first woman president). The question is whether that movement will do something, rather than act like Carey Wedler, who groused for a couple of years and then burned her Obama t-shirt.
There are a lot of things you can do. Here are a few:
- Get involved with your local Democratic Party (follow the links);
- Find a local candidate and volunteer;
- Start a group (it could even be a new chapter of Drinking Liberally);
- Run for a local office.
I suppose I don’t really care if the Bernie or Bust people sit out this election. I think it is a mistake, but it’s their choice. But I suspect sitting out this election goes along with sitting out the next four years and complaining. We have already reached peak “burning political t-shirt” videos. If people are going to make a stand then they should really make a stand. Otherwise, they shouldn’t lazily help the Republicans replace Justice Scalia with an even worse person.