I’ve been having some problems with the simmering Bernie/Hillary feud among my friends (and their friends, and a bunch of loud people who showed up and no one is sure whose friends they are). I don’t usually write these essays as direct commentary on current events, because current events fade away and writing, in my opinion, should have something to say for a long while. But I think that feud, which is nearly national at this point, has something to tell us about politics.
Namely, don’t demonize your opponents.
In my corner of the world, I am encountering the following sets of people:
- Bernie supporters who just LOVE Bernie and want him to win, math be damned.
- Bernie supporters who just HATE Hillary and call her names and hope she dies.
- Hillary supporters who just HATE Bernie supporters and call them names (but smugly expect to win).
- Hillary supporters who just expect to win, and so haven’t mustered much enthusiasm.
I personally sympathize with number 1, being from Vermont, but I don’t have much hope for Bernie at this point because the math is compelling, and anything less than a 30-point lead across the board in remaining states means Hillary will be the Democratic nominee.
So let’s talk about why I’m writing this, and that is group 5: Bernie supporters who would vastly prefer Bernie, but will go with Hillary if need be. That’s my group. And we’re a pretty quiet group, and we don’t get involved in the shouting matches because we don’t think they’re productive.
I’m tired of letting the loud people define Bernie supporters as unreasonable, Bern-it-down anarchists. Sure, a few are. But there are a few assholes in every group, and it’s up to the rest of us to call them out instead of standing uncomfortably on the sidelines and hoping they go away.
So, this is my entreaty to all the Bernie supporters out there. If you are angry, please stop with the “shillary” and the demonizing and the hate and the anger. If you want to continue voting for Bernie in the primaries, please do! But when you get to the convention, please don’t go on yelling that the system is rigged and trying to re-rig it in your favor. Please, instead of wasting time making yourselves outsiders, do the Democracy thing: use your votes as leverage.
Because Bernie voters, we have a LOT of leverage. We have 40% of the Democratic vote, and Hillary will need that vote to win. That also means we can pull her policies out of the center and towards where we need them to be. Because let’s not forget that big picture: if the issues Bernie has raised are what you care about, the way to move them forward soon will be to make sure Hillary owes you.
On my personal most important issue, Climate Change, I see the breakdown as:
- Bernie – would work to directly and actively address climate change
- Hillary – would give lip service and not do much
- Trump – based on what he is saying this week, would make it worse
Leveraging Hillary to do a little bit of good is going to be way better than any alternative. And it’s the same for a lot of other issues, in my opinion: Hillary is a centrist, but she’s a smart centrist. She knows who she needs to win over, and how she needs to do it.
So, Bernie supporters, you can Bern it down if you want to. And you can Bern up any chance of having our issues addressed while you do it. That would be petty, and destructive, and immensely satisfying for about a week.
Or, you can join me in a rousing cheer of “Feel the Bern! But Hillary would be kinda okay, too.”
Image Credit: ABC News