I was a Bernie Sanders supporter, like most everyone my age. I was inspired by his directness — how he came from a background of supporting civil rights and women’s rights, and how his political history reflected that. I liked that he looked to break the status-quo and change politics. I most definitely felt the Bern.
But, as many expected, he didn’t win the Democratic nomination over Hillary Clinton. Was I disappointed? Sure. Did I cry like many Bernie supporters at the DNC? Nope. Because I know that this election isn’t the be-all-end-all for the revolution Bernie inspired.
Yet, many Bernie supporters (I guess those who can be referred to as “Bernie or Bust” or “Berniebros”) definitely didn’t see things the way I did. Facebook groups like Bernie Sanders’ Dank Meme Stash, once ripe with insightful political discourse, have turned into an anti-Hillary cesspool.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many valid critiques of Hillary. In fact, I once wrote a review of the book False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton, which outlined from a liberal, feminist perspective the many policies Clinton has supported that ended up causing harm to the most marginalized groups both at home and abroad. However, when looking at what the “Bernie or Busters” say about Clinton, most of the criticisms seem more in line with what the Conservatives often say about her — that she’s corrupt because of the email scandal (though many other government officials have gotten away with much worse, such as former CIA director, General Petraeus), that she’s dishonest (while the Pulitzer-prize winning Politifact deemed her to be the most honest candidate this election cycle).
To be honest, I think the reason people analyze Clinton so harshly is because she is a strong, powerful woman. Internalized misogyny is real. She’s no different, no more corrupt, than any male politician we’ve had, but people place her under a microscope. The President does not have to be a perfect, heaven-sent person. People call Clinton a “flip-flopper.” But unlike Trump, Clinton’s views have evolved over decades, meaning that she’s listening to and evolving with the American people. This is what we should want of a politician.
Many of these die-hard Bernie fans are looking to “punish” the DNC for their bias by refusing to vote for Clinton (even though Bernie himself is voting for her), and instead opting to vote for either Trump or Third Party candidates like Jill Stein or Gary Johnson.
Johnson is a Libertarian, while Sanders is a Socialist. According to insidegov.com, a website that compares the platforms of political candidates, Johnson is far more conservative than Sanders on individual rights, domestic issues, economic issues, and defense/international issues. One example is when it comes to religion: Unlike Sanders, Johnson looks to keep God in the public sphere. Also unlike Sanders, Johnson does not want to make voter registration more accessible, expand Obamacare, or prioritize green energy. It seems the two candidates have very strong ideological differences.
While Jill Stein of the Green Party seems to be very progressive and forward-thinking, she, too, has issues. For one thing, though she’s a doctor, she has seemed to take a vague anti-vax stance. This is especially concerning to those living with disabilities.
“I’m really bored of able bodied and neurotypical people dismissing her ableism,” says Jenny, a 20 year old disabled woman.
In an interview with Elle, Stein referred to disabilities such as Autism as “calamities,” comparable to cancer. She says, “‘Hey, our genes didn’t change overnight. You know, my generation didn’t grow up with this.’”
Jenny explains that the rates of things like Autism and other disabilities have not increased over the years, what has increased is the number of diagnoses, which is different.
In a Reddit AMA, Stein objected to the idea of mandatory vaccinations, citing distrust with the FDA as her reasoning. However, vaccines are tested thoroughly by scientists who don’t have ties to the FDA, which Stein seems to ignore. This stance of hers has been critiqued many times.
Recently, Stein deleted a tweet where she clarified that there is no link between vaccinations and Autism, but only to soon after delete the tweet and post it again with a message that gave her a bit more wiggle room to pander to the anti-vax community.
I'm not aware of evidence linking autism with vaccines. Let's do more to support autistic people & their families. https://t.co/eISgfxQ5vm
— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) July 31, 2016
“I don’t understand how anyone can vote for someone as dense as Jill Stein, when she grew up so damn privileged that she legitimately believes that disabled people and autistic people just did not exist while she was a kid,” Jenny says.
Stein also apparently believes that wi-fi signals are harmful to children, despite there literally being no evidence to support that.
Other than her stances on vaccinations, disabilities, and other pseudoscience, Stein is no different than mainstream candidates like Clinton when it comes to the rights of sex workers. Like Clinton, Stein conflates all sex work — even voluntary and consented to work — with trafficking. Stein advocates for the Swedish model when it comes to sex work, ignoring the wants and needs of sex workers themselves. Again, this stance of hers has been critiqued by feminists and those advocating for sex workers’ rights.
It seems these Third Party “alternatives” are no more ideologically pure than the mainstream candidates. Not to mention the fact that these Third Parties don’t have nearly enough funding or media attention to be viable competitors. Many are disillusioned with the two-party system, but this system which took over two centuries to build won’t drastically change in the course of a couple months. It takes time and effort. We need stability in this country to be able to make those changes. And when it boils down to it, Trump is currently America’s biggest threat. Even Bernie Sanders himself said a Trump presidency would be a “real danger” to America and the rest of the world.
Sanders wouldn’t have endorsed Clinton unless he was able to push her more left. In an interview his wife Jane did with Rolling Stone, she said, “we will hold [the Clinton campaign] accountable because we are endorsing her. We are that much more committed to making sure [she follows through on her promises]. We’re not going to let that happen. Not without a big fight, if anything. If the Democratic Party starts backing away from the platform, ever, we will fight like crazy to support the work that all of these millions of people did.”
Having America’s most famous misogynist destroyed by the first woman president is like a pro wrestling narrative. But I’ll take it.
— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) August 4, 2016
So why aren’t Sanders supporters listening to their idol now? The Revolution isn’t over, and the presidency is not all that matters. People aren’t paying attention to local or midterm elections. Currently, our congress is a Republican-majority, but that could change if Sanders supporters, at least those who are serious about progress, went out to vote for senators. 469 seats in Congress are up for election this year. Check out this video of Bernie urging his supporters to become active in local and state politics.
Let’s view electing Clinton as a separate issue from condemning the DNC for their bias. We can then focus on changing the election system so this same issue doesn’t happen next time. Such changes could include making it a rule that the DNC or RNC can’t have headquarters or a registration office in the same place as a particular candidate’s campaign office, for instance. But in order for these changes to happen, we have to continue to pay attention and fight for progress.
Let’s not forget how awful this election cycle has been once we have something new to focus on. Let’s stop complaining that Sanders didn’t get the nomination and instead look forward to what we can do to institute true, systematic reform.
So let’s suck it up and vote for Clinton, like Bernie is doing, while not forgetting what our ultimate goals are.
Featured image: Gage Skidmore (Flickr)