Sanders supporters booed Bernie Sanders when he called them to unite behind Hillary Clinton during a speech he gave to his delegates at the Democratic National Convention. They instead chanted: “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie.” Many Clinton supporters were dismayed, including Ian Millhiser who called these die-hard Sanders backers “garbage people.”
The Bernie deadenders at the DNC are garbage people.
— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) July 25, 2016
I understand why Clinton supporters feel this way. They cannot comprehend how some Sanders supporters are willing to shun Hillary Clinton, with the risk of giving Donald Trump a chance of becoming the next president of the United States. They feel that Sanders supporters are “privileged” and put the lives of people of color, undocumented immigrants, and poor people at risk if Trump is elected president.
I sympathize with the views of Clinton supporters. However, I would like to defend the views of those who choose not to vote for Clinton in the General Election, and address the fears of a Donald Trump presidency.
Many Sanders backers do not trust Clinton and think that she is an utter liar, a corrupt person and whose positions are phony and will fake left and turn right. This is the honest opinion of many Sanders supporters. Now you may very much disagree with this, but until you’re able to convince a voter that this is not the case, you are essentially telling people that electing a person that they believe is a corrupt liar is acceptable out of fear of a Trump presidency. That’s not what democracy is about.
Many Voters Don’t Understand How Government Works
Clinton supporters often warn that Trump is dangerous, and I agree with them. I’ve said before that Trump is a clown, a misogynist, a jerk, a xenophobe, a fascist, a sexist, a racist, a phony and a loser. Trump doesn’t believe in climate change and wants to cut taxes for the richest of the rich.
At the same time, I am dismayed how many people forget that the United States has something called “checks and balances.” This means that many of his dangerous ideas won’t see the light of day no matter how much he or his white supremacist supporters want to. The Supreme Court will never approve his proposals that would undermine the Bill of Rights.
This doesn’t mean that Trump is not dangerous. He definitely is. But I worry more from Paul Ryan, who actually will issue right-wing legislations that would be approved by a Republican president (any Republican president) such as repealing the Affordable Care Act. That’s why Sanders supporters intend to help Democrats down the ticket get elected so that right-wing agenda won’t get passed in Congress.
Clinton supporters will then point how Trump would nominate a right-wing conservative Justice to the Supreme Court. That’s a reasonable issue, but again, if we learned anything from this year, Congress wouldn’t confirm a judge unless that Judge gets the support of 60 senators to avoid a filibuster. This means that Democrats and Republicans will have to reach a compromise, and Trump won’t be able to nominate whomever he desires. He’ll have to nominate someone that some centrist Democrats like Tim Kaine will approve.
Revolt against Political Abuse
Democrats are better than Republicans. I will not debate this. However, the Democratic Party has implemented policies that are pro-corporate, pro-Wall Street and anti-union. The Democratic Party passed NAFTA that led to the loss of 700,000 manufacturing jobs to Mexico. It was Democrats who revoked the Glass-Steagall Act thus creating the conditions for the 2008 financial collapse. Democrats are heavily influenced by special interest groups and lobbyists. They also supported crime laws that led to mass incarceration. Many Democrats, including President Obama, are championing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is opposed by the vast majority of unions. You get the point. The reason Democrats do this, it’s because they can. For the longest time, the Democratic Party has been using the excuse of the bogeyman (Trump in this case) to tell its progressive constituents that they should give up their ambitions for single-payer Universal Healthcare. All they have to prove is that they are better than their Republican counterpart.
That’s not what democracy is about. That’s what infuriates Sanders supporters. They feel that Clinton chose Tim Kaine, who supports the disastrous TPP trade deal because she decided to ignore them. In fact, Clinton chose Kaine because she wants to try to win “moderate Republicans displeased with Mr. Trump.”
Sanders supporters argue that Clinton is not earning their vote which is a democratic right. Their argument is simple: “We’ll vote for you if you can prove that you can represent us.” It should be considered a standard relationship between a candidate and voters in a democracy.
Yet the way the Party answers can only be seen as abuse; they expect a relationship where the Party can ignore the electorate without consequence. However, without consequence, there will be no change. That’s just human nature.
Now many may disagree with this, and I respect their view. At the same time, I respect the views of those who want to vote their conscience, who don’t want to endorse Clinton, who feel Clinton is even more hawkish that Trump.
Many may argue that protest votes are wasted votes. This is generally true. However, Sanders supporters believe that this is a strategy; a strategy that worked before for evangelicals. They punished politicians who didn’t support extreme right-wing conservative views. Their consistency and reliability at the polling stations election after election has made them the most efficient voting bloc in the United States. As a result, Republicans ended up catering to the demands of extreme evangelicals. Progressives want to do the same with a political revolution that calls for change.
My advice to Clinton supporters is this: try to address the concerns of Sanders supporters. Telling them that Trump is worse won’t cut it for them. Instead, tell them how endorsing Clinton will help advance their progressive views in the long term. It will be a hard argument to make because Clinton flip-flops a bit too much, but that’s your only argument if you want to win some of Sanders supporters. Good luck!