Bernie or Bust?!

Bernie or Bust?!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.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

15 thoughts on “Bernie or Bust?!

  1. I’ve been seeing some political sites, heavily pro-Sanders, expressing despair and bitterness at the likely loss of the nomination. I really don’t understand that; I’d like Sanders to win, but as you say, it’s not about one guy. They should instead be happy that Sanders has demonstrated an appetite for something more explicitly progressive in the Democratic Party.

    I’m not the most optimistic guy as you know. But the evidence is there, for the first time since 1964 maybe, that transformation is possible. Yes, the right move is a grassroots takeover at the district level. My own party, if much later than it should have, seems to be moving this way too. The leadership is only a smidgen away from apologizing to the membership for being too centrist.

    I never thought S had a chance and still don’t. But the degree of success in his nomination challenge is a pleasant surprise. It should be cause for happiness, not sadness.

    Now, you personally, Frank: the future President surely has CA locked up. People like you could go Jill Stein or write-in Bernie with basically no chance of throwing CA to the elephants.

    • Consider the change that’s happened. Normally you had the liberal wing of the party represented by Dennis Kucinich or some such, who polled at like one percent. Now the liberal wing polls at 40%! But the activists behind this do need to keep the enthusiasm going. A good way is by taking the supporter lists and engaging them in local political issues.

      And I’ll be voting Green in a safe state. Straight Democratic ticket for local offices, though!

    • I grappled with that in 2012. Finally, I did vote for Obama. For one thing, I’m not as thrilled with Jill Stein as others. She isn’t a politician. As far as I know, she’s never actually held elected office — and I think that’s important. Had Rocky Anderson been on the ballot in CA, I probably would have voted for him. But it isn’t certain. The truth is that I look at the world as I think it is. We have a two party system and a vote for Obama (or Clinton) in the general election is very much in line with my self-identifying as a Democrat, even though I do little but trash the party. Of course, the great thing about Bernie Sanders is that he’s made me realize that where I am in the party is where a whole lot more people are than I had thought are. I figured his upper limit was 20-25%. Now it is clear it is 45% — and maybe higher. There just might be hope for this country — or at least the Democratic Party.

  2. Sitting out this election if your candidate isn’t nominated is not just wrong, it borders on evil. Think about the effect on people’s lives if a Republican is elected. We need to support the Democrat who wins and demolish the Republicans. We also need to vote in the mid-terms and not let the Republicans control the Senate and House. If all right-minded people would put their shoulders to the wheel, we can severely damage the GOP for at least a generation.

    • I understand what you are saying, but I also understand some of the frustration of left-wing Democratic Party supporters. They’ve been told ‘OMG the sky will fall if you don’t come out’ since at least 1977. The D Party tells them they have to vote D or else, and then when they ask for policies they’ve been promised, it’s ‘fuck off socialist’.

      And in the long term the congressional elections are more important, you’re right there. Most people, regardless of political persuasion, don’t realize this.

      If I was an American in CA, I’d vote Stein or write in Sanders, because Cruz and Trump both have no chance there. In a contested state, I’d vote Clinton.

    • That’s right. Although it isn’t a question of damaging the GOP. It is a question of forcing it to be a proper conservative party. I give the New Democrats a huge amount of blame for the GOP going on tilt.

      As for voting, I think Elizabeth Warren says everything that I think:

  3. Sanders has been really disappointing over the last week. He had that interview with the Daily News where he answered “I don’t know” to far too many questions. Now he’s lying about Clinton calling him unqualified and turning around to say the same about her. Why go negative now, after you’ve likely lost already?

  4. My question for the Bernie or Bust people is, “What do you think you will be accomplishing?”

    You could go to our website and find out. The Bernie or bust strategy is a primary campaign strategy that has been working very, VERY well in caucus states and was first deployed as democracy commando force multipliers in a primary state in WI. Why did Bernie go from 4 points up a week before the primary to winning by 13 points? Bernie or bust activists helped using a tactic that neither Clinton or Sanders is deploying. (I’m on both of their email lists, so I know.)

    Bernie or bust is about leverage, a demand: unite behind Bernie and no one gets hurt.

    • I totally agree with that. The whole point of my article is that there are people who see it not as a primary campaign tactic. And I have spoken to Sanders supporters who claim they just can’t trust Clinton, and thus could not vote for her. If it turns out that all these people are just pretending or that when it comes down to actually voting, they will do the right thing, great! But it is important to remember that Weimar might not have been great, but the Nazis were worse.

      My interest is in the movement. And as I’ve said again and again here, the Bernie Sanders campaign has made Clinton better, the Democratic Party better, and America better. I want this to continue. I do not want people to tune out.

      Nice blog. I’ll try to spend some time on it, but I am crushed these days.

  5. The Panama Papers are wild. I just have the outline view, but apparently people are upset their pocketed politicians use the same tax shelters every rich person uses.

    What I wonder is why no US politician is implicated yet.

    • I don’t think so. Certainly for a lot of people it is just a primary challenge. If there is confusion, it is not among me but among the many people who I have talked to.

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