#BernieOrBust: Whose Necks Are You Willing to Stand On?

Credit: Flickr/DonkeyHotey

I voted for Sanders in the MA primary. I will happily vote for him in November should he manage to become the Democratic candidate. I am thrilled to see how he has challenged the Democratic party and pulled it left; I love that he has rallied the passion of my peers who might otherwise have succumbed to political apathy.

You’ve seen me poking at Bernie and his supporters on Facebook because (1) I’m an insufferable contrarian and (2) I think the more emotionally appealing an idea (or candidate) is the more it needs to be challenged to keep our critical faculties sharp. It’s precisely because I like Bernie so much that I give him so much grief.

All of that is just to head off anyone who might dismiss me as a shill for Clinton. Believe me, she’s not my dream candidate.

But in November, if Clinton is the nominee, I hope anyone reading this will for vote for her instead of Trump, Cruz, or whoever the Republican nominee is. I hope you will vote for Clinton instead of writing in Sanders. I even hope you’ll vote for her if Sanders decides to run a third-party bid.

I hope you will vote for her even if they think Clinton is a hawkish war criminal. I hope you will do this even if you think her ties to Big Business or Wall Street or that great bugaboo The Establishment make her unacceptably corrupt. I hope you will do this if they think her progressive stances on social issues are little more than rank political opportunism. I hope you’ll vote for her even if you think she’s the status quo and you fucking hate the status quo, man.


Because the status quo right now is better than it was eight years ago before Obama took office. Because all available evidence points to Clinton being a thousandfold better for every social group in America that isn’t cisgendered heterosexual Christian white men than anyone Republicans might offer. And because Sanders is a lot less likely to win as a third party candidate than a Republican is to sneak up and steal the election, especially if Sanders supporters pack up and go home.

In my limited, anecdotal, heavily social-media-tinged experience, Bernie’s most zealous supporters tend to deal in moral abstractions and absolutes. Clinton fails one test of progressive purity (e.g. hawkishness) so she fails them all. Thing is, you can argue about moral abstractions all you’d like, but those abstractions won’t help women if Cruz is shepherding anti-abortion legislation through Congress. These abstractions won’t help make Mexicans at the border safer from the virulent xenophobia Trump happily stokes.

If Clinton fails one or more of your “I could never in good conscience vote for this person” tests, how are Trump or Cruz setting not setting off at least twice as many alarms? Bad is bad, you might say. Evil is evil! There is no lesser evil!  You might say it’s an unacceptable compromise, to play the game by the rules of The Establishment, that the only winning move is not to play.

In the end I don’t think moral purity matters as much as holding on to the progress — however incremental or dissatisfying — we HAVE made under Obama. I don’t think it matters as much as protecting America from four or more years under a Republican president. The Republican party actively wants to roll back every hard-one inch of progress.

I get it, I do. There’s such a heady self-righteous appeal in the #BernieOrBust stance. It feels good. You’re standing up for something!

But whose necks will you be standing on?


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