The Bernie Sanders Campaign is one of the best things to happen to the Democratic Party in a quarter century. The insistence of the #BernieOrBust movement helped give Sanders leverage to influence the Democratic Platform and to continue to have a platform with which to give a voice to the 13 million voters in the political revolution. But the general election is now upon us, and it is a time to be practical. #BernieOrBust voters must now throw their support behind Clinton to defeat Donald Trump; and hold her accountable every day of her Presidency.
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On June 23, 2016, I had the privilege of meeting Bernie Sanders in person. I was invited to Town Hall in Midtown Manhattan for a meet-and-greet with him before he delivered one of the most important speeches in a generation. The speech, entitled “Where We Go From Here,” set forth the roadmap for the continuation of the political revolution that began when Sanders launched his campaign a year earlier, on May 26, 2015.
This meet-and-greet was for a handful of people who volunteered for the Sanders campaign this cycle and who the campaign identified as current or potential future candidates. It was an honor to be there and to meet so many smart, passionate people, like Nina Turner (former Ohio State Senator and Sanders surrogate), Jonathan Clarke (Congressional candidate), Jeff Kurzon (Congressional candidate), Blaire Fellows (Election Justice USA founder), and Mindy Rosier (Bernie Sanders delegate and activist). Speaking with Sanders privately confirmed about Sanders everything that his most ardent supporters already believed: he is honest, he is resolute, he is pragmatic, and he has committed his life to making America a better place.
At that point, Sanders was not ready to endorse Hillary Clinton for President,
and neither was I. The Democratic Platform had not been crafted, and the FBI/DOJ had not made their recommendation about what to do with Clinton’s blatant disregard for national security. I remember daily having to defend Sanders against attacks from Clinton partisans who didn’t understand how he could be so “selfish” as to stay in the race, or who thought it was absurd to think Clinton might face any legal consequences.
Although most people did not realize it at the time, Bernie Sanders saved the soul of the Democratic Party, forcing it to take a good look at itself and exposing the ugliness inside. As with all exposure to sunlight and self-reflection, at times it was painful. As Sanders said in Where We Go From Here:
“A year ago the ideas that we brought forth, the critics said, our opponents said, ‘These are radical ideas. Nobody in America supports these ideas.’ Well, as it turns out a majority of people support these ideas. Real change is not easy and real change never takes place from the top on down, always from the bottom on up. And, that is what our political revolution is all about.”
But just as importantly, it is Bernie Sanders who has single-handedly saved Hillary Clinton’s chance at becoming by President. We all know by now exactly how the Clinton campaign operates — they are above the law, they are willing to do anything it takes, and if they defeat you you get nothing. But that is not how politics works, not when you have a general election to win and in order to win it you need Progressive Democrats and Independents to vote for you.
It’s actually shocking how many, even respected mainstream pundits, did not understand this:
If Sanders had bailed right away — without influencing the Democratic Platform or getting a night to speak at the Democratic Convention — Clinton would have had no chance to reach out to the members of the #BernieOrBust movement. However, by staying in, and taking the PR hit from those who lacked the vision to understand what he was doing, Sanders pulled Clinton to the left and made her slightly more palatable to those who would be settling for her.
This was always, very obviously, the Sanders endgame.
The Sanders campaign had four distinct phases. In the first, prior to Iowa, Sanders did not think he had a chance to win (turns out he was right, thank you in part to the Democratic National Committee rigging the outcome). Second, after doing well in a few early states, the Sanders campaign went full-bore after victory at the polls. Third, when it appeared that they would not be able to overtake Clinton’s superdelegate advantage, the Sanders campaign went into long-shot mode, hoping to appeal to superdelegates and waiting for Clinton to be indicted. Finally, in defeat, Sanders was determined to make the best of a bad situation and set up the Political Revolution to continue by switching his focus to the Platform and on getting “Berniecrats” involved in the system and elected at every level of government.
“We’re going to go all over this country, because that is what this political revolution is about, it’s not about me, it is about people at the grassroots level, it is about people running for school board, for city council, for mayor, for state legislature, for Congress, for the Senate, but it is millions of people getting involved in the political process in a way we have never seen in the modern history of this country.”
And not only that, but in his two speeches imploring his supporters to vote for Clinton, Sanders laid out a series of principles that Hillary Clinton will be held to. In his Convention speech, Sanders used the phrase “Hillary Clinton understands” on seven unique occasions. He said she “believes” in Medicare and that she “wants to see” a public option and “will” appoint justices who will overturn Citizens United. He did the same thing when he endorsed her a couple weeks earlier:
So where does this leave the #BernieOrBust movement? I have many friends who I love very dearly who are #BernieOrBust, and many of the leaders of Bernie’s political revolution are steadfastly #BernieOrBust. The political revolution owes much to these people, but it is time to stop being #BernieOrBust. It is time to get on board with the reality of this particular election cycle.
Bernie Sanders should run third party!
Maybe he should. He probably shouldn’t. But either way, he isn’t. So forget it.
But we don’t know what Trump is! Maybe he’s a moderate.
Perhaps you’re right (probably not). But even if you are, you’re merely hoping against hope that the remainder of Trump’s positions resemble the ones that we know Hillary Clinton holds. Plus, of the positions that we can identify of Trump, he’s staunchly conservative. Here’s where he is on the issues.
- Defund Planned Parenthood.
- Overturn Roe v. Wade and outlaw abortion.
- Thinks climate change is a hoax.
- “Putin has no respect for America, I will get along with him.”
- No restrictions on guns.
- Dismantle Obamacare.
- Ban Muslims from entering the United States.
- Abolish federal minimum wage.
- Cut taxes on the rich.
My conscience won’t let me vote for Hillary Clinton!
As I’ve explained above, we are beyond the point of acting on that kind of principle right now. We fought tooth and nail during the primary and before the Democratic Platform was crafted, but this is a Presidential election. We must be pragmatic.
A presidential election is not a beauty contest. It doesn’t matter if you hate Hillary Clinton with the fire of a thousand suns, or if you think she should be in jail, or if you’ll never forgive the Democratic National Committee for stealing this election. This election is about Citizens United, the Environmental Protection Agency, and a fair and progressive tax regime. Sanders said it himself in last night’s Convention speech:
“Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton presidency – and I am going to do everything I can to make that happen.”
Four years of Trump is better than eight years of Hillary!
First of all, no it is not. It really is not. I’ll let one of the best tweets I’ve seen all month sum up why:
This is a real election with real consequences — it is not to “send a message to the DNC” or “show them we’re not to be trifled with.” Those are positions that are borne entirely of ego, and are positions that people who are privileged to not be “at risk” of harm in a Trump Presidency.
But even if that were true, it does not have to be four years of Trump or eight years of Hillary — and I sincerely doubt that it will be. The political revolution is alive and well, and if we all do what we are supposed to do for the next four years, the only way Hillary will get re-elected is if she does what she has promised.
Our candidate did not win this time around, but something far bigger has happened. Here it is, in Sanders’s own words:
“Together, my friends, we have begun a political revolution to transform America and that revolution – Our Revolution – continues. Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the 1 percent – a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice – that struggle continues.”
The last year opened the eyes of hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions of people. It showed us that these ideas were not radical; it showed us that you don’t have to compromise your morals to make a difference; it showed us that regular people can finance a campaign; and it showed us that the voices of the 99%, banded together, can be an unstoppable force for good.
I thank my brothers and sisters of the #BernieOrBust movement for their belief, for their work, for their love. But your work there is done. It is time to face forward and make our plans to shape the future.
In order to shape that future, we need a Democratic House, a Democratic Senate, and a Democratic President. The political revolution continues.