By Edwin Thomas:
Last night, the US saw Hillary Clinton formally accept the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, making her the first woman to do so from a major political party in the history of that nation. No one knows better than Hillary that her ride, so far, has been a bumpy one at that, and that the road to the White House is not going to be a coronation, but a dirty street fight with an old-school bully.
In her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, she rightly attacked the demagogue that goes by the name of Donald Trump, not only for his dangerous ideas but also for his lack of a plan for anything that awaits America. But in the first half of her speech was a loud ‘thank you’ to a certain someone that she had to spar with in a surprisingly gruelling primary.
While history was being made, the tension, that had seemed to die down, simmered once again among Bernie supporters, thanks to an email leak which suggested that officials at the Democratic National Committee wanted to derail the Bernie campaign. Amidst the booing and the protesting on the first two days of the convention, there emerged to me, a strong, yet disturbing sign of the flawed logic that many passionate Bernie supporters seemed to use.
Whatever the result of the convention, it is time to look at the bigger picture, therefore, I am going to use this opportunity to address the Berners.
Dear Bernie Sanders’ supporters:
1) Bernie lost.
For purposes of emphasising, it is worth repeating that to yourself, over and over again. He lost, he didn’t make it, and therefore, he is not the Democratic nominee. Not only was there a gap of more than 3 million votes between Clinton and Sanders but there was a gap of more than 400 delegates between them. She defeated him on both measures and it wasn’t even close. In 2008, the delegate gap was way too close between then-senators Obama and Clinton and she was ahead of him by a tiny margin in terms of popular vote.
2) It’s politics after all.
An extension of the previous point, it’s time to acknowledge and come to terms with reality. But I understand why you may have held out hope. Back in 2008, Clinton got the point, stepped up, rather stepped aside and gave Obama a full-throated endorsement in June, despite the race being so close. In comparison, Sanders gave a half-hearted endorsement in mid-July. Waiting this long, despite numbers being against his favour, kindled false hopes about Bernie somehow getting into the picture, once again. Well now, it’s time to wake up and smell the icing.
3) The political revolution is bigger than Bernie.
By all means, the economic issues that have taken centre stage is of utmost importance. Income inequality, wage inequality, Wall Street greed and corporate evasion from the law has rightly occupied enough attention to change the Democratic Party for the better. This was the goal of Bernie, apart from winning the nomination, and a respectable one at that. But during the final stages of his primary campaign, Bernie positioned himself as the sole person who was able to deal with these issues, casting out everybody else as ‘establishment’ politicians. He switched rhetoric when he realised that he had no realistic chance of winning, and said that, “This election is not about, and has never been about, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders or any of the other candidates who sought the presidency. This election is not about political gossip. It’s not about polls. It’s not about campaign strategy.” Believe him. A revolution can’t have only one leader and torchbearer. A revolution means raising the right issues and then turning that into practical policy. Hillary is capable of the latter.
4) Hillary is willing to listen.
Regardless of what she calls herself, Hillary was not a progressive until prior to this election. She can be considered a moderate or a centrist. Because of Bernie, she has changed almost her entire platform, from supporting a public option for Obamacare and proposing to make college debt-free and even free for many Americans; to opposing the Trans-Pacific partnership and embracing the call for a $15 minimum wage. This means she is willing to listen and even after the primaries got over, she could’ve returned to her centrist rhetoric, but she hasn’t and that means a lot.
5) She can get results.
Hillary may not be able to give inspiring speeches or rile up an audience like Bernie, Obama or former President Bill Clinton. But she has a proven track record of being a workhorse and getting things done, her Senate record being a good example. She is known for crossing the partisan aisle and getting things done with Republicans (despite being hated) by finding common ground, negotiating and compromising. These are qualities that Bernie seems to not give too much importance. For him, ideological purity is all that matters, but with a possibly Republican Congress and Senate, a Democratic President has to do a lot of deal making that only Hillary is capable of.
6) Trump should not be an option. Ever.
Listen to Bernie and then listen to Trump. Is the latter anywhere close to the ideals and dreams envisioned by Bernie? Doesn’t it make you feel a little terrible that some of you are willing to vote for a narcissistic and dangerous demagogue as a protest vote against Clinton? Your arrogance could actually lead to a looney toon appointing at least three Supreme Court justices, overturning many landmark judgments, undoing the Affordable Care Act, undoing protection of LGBTQ people under the law, sending 11 million undocumented immigrants home and not doing anything about systemic racism plaguing the country. If you’re a white, rich person (like Susan Sarandon) screaming “Bernie or Bust“, you will never know what your vote means for an undocumented Latina child who is afraid that her parents may soon be deported. Check your privilege.
7) Jill Stein can’t win.
Voting for a third party candidate, if that person had a legitimate chance to win, is a great option. But if not, you could ruin the chances of a candidate that is actually close to your ideals and is better for the nation overall and lend victory to Trumpism. Split voting happens this way. Read up on Ralph Nader because the last time a similar situation happened, America and the world got Bush, which meant, wars and a disastrous economy.
It’s a no-brainer. Really. So spit it out, and go vote for Hillary. Because, we are “Stronger Together”!