To my Bernie family: I believe we are faced with a choice between furthering the revolution and indulging our own pride. Please let me explain. Bernie has been absolutely clear in his endorsement of Hillary, and about the reasons for his endorsement. A few of them follow.
- On Citizens United, Hillary has pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices who will agree to reverse the decision, helping to remove the poisonous influence of money in politics, which allows the wealthy to disproportionately influence every conceivable policy.
- On education, Hillary and Bernie have co-authored a proposal to make public colleges and universities tuition-free for all children of families earning an annual income of $125,000 or less. Interest rates will also go down.
- On the job-killing TPP trade agreement, which would allow more jobs to be shipped overseas and corporations to sue governments for hindering profits (e.g., through environmental or health protection policies), the Democratic platform is now opposed (despite Obama’s own support).
- Hillary has revised her position on the minimum wage, raising her target to Bernie’s stated goal of $15 per hour, taking cost of living into account.
- The Democratic party now supports implementing a modern version of Glass-Steagall to break up the largest banks in the country, whose activities led to our Great Recession.
- The list of substantial victories goes on.
Now, over the past week, Wikileaks has revealed emails regarding the peculiar corruption of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and others in the Democratic party, spectacularly vindicating what we have claimed with good evidence all along: namely that, from well before Bernie even announced, the system was rigged to support Hillary. Whether it was Russians or lizard people did the digging makes no difference—as one cheeky headline put it, “Scientists Confirm Truth Still True Even If Russian Hackers Find It.” The corruption involved pressuring reporters on the topics they should discuss, in limiting debates, and in money laundering activities. Then today, no sooner had Schultz stepped down than, in a move of baffling stupidity, the Clinton Campaign signed her on as honorary Chair, practically begging to lose the vote of Bernie supporters.
Yet Bernie still endorses Hillary, planning to do “everything [he] can” to make sure she becomes the next President.
Because, as Bernie says, “we live in the real world.” Do I trust Hillary? No—for many of the well-trodden reasons, which I will not rehearse here. But is Hillary better than Trump? Yes—in virtually every way that matters for a President. Although she acts on political expediency and has revised her positions numerous times to suit the times, she has revised them. It’s done. Our policy victories have been won, and for her to turn back on these promises would now be impossible without costing her, at the very least, a second term. Our progressive policies do poll in the majority now, and she will not forsake the majority. She has also, as Bernie reminds us, truly put her neck on the line over the course of her career, especially for universal health care, the disabled, and children’s and women’s rights. By talking about the “real world,” I believe that Bernie is reminding us that life is not black and white, not always either/or. After all, Obama was deeply beholden to Wall Street, likely explaining his support for the TPP—and yet the state of our country has drastically improved over his Presidency. It’s not all or nothing. It’s something or nothing. I think Bernie wants us to choose something.
Now, we know that third party candidate Jill Stein is a much better fit for what we believe than is Hillary. I plan to do what I can to make Jill’s voice heard, hopefully in debates. Still, Sanders—despite being an independent himself—has chosen to endorse Hillary. The reason is that the stakes are just too high. Electing Donald Trump would probably cost lives, and would certainly cost freedoms. This would occur due to his example, his administration, and the Supreme Court justices he would appoint. People, disproportionately minorities and low-income individuals, would lose access to health care. People of color would be subject to increasing objectification and abuse. People of non-Christian faiths, especially Muslims, would be subject to discrimination. My LGBT family and I would lose our right to marry. Women would lose the right to make choices about their own bodies. Families with undocumented immigrants would be torn apart. The list goes on.
Do we really want to throw away all of the victories we have won within the Democratic party? Half of its platform now reads like a Bernie stump speech. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has no role whatsoever at the convention (some sort of compromise that involves her “honorary” role in the Clinton Campaign?). We have what we want on education, money in politics, the banks, and more.
I truly believe that no one should feel shame for voting their conscience, even if that means rejecting Bernie’s advice and, say, voting for Jill Stein. Trump cannot be the only reason to vote Hillary. But I ask you to take a good, hard look at the alternative futures, and at who would have the privilege of surviving it. In the Clinton future, tremendous compromises have been reached to further the revolution. The worst that happens is stasis, but it is incredibly likely that progress will be made, perhaps the most that has occurred in the last half century. In the Trump future, our country—especially our civil rights—are set back decades. Are we really prepared to risk such a future just to upset the establishment? To what greater end? At what cost? And who would suffer most?
Truly, it’s in our hands. I’ll be taking Bernie’s advice.