Dear fellow Berners,
It’s been a tough few weeks. It really has. It looks like our man Bernie is down for the count. The conspiracy theories and other hopeful articles circulating the internet remind me of how I feel when I watch sports. Specifically when my team is down with only a few moments left to play in the game. Like when the Packers are down 17 points with 37 seconds left on the clock. I sit watching on the edge of my seat rationalizing a possible win instead of the inevitable loss. Rally cap inside out with my Aaron Rodgers jersey trying to talk myself and anyone within earshot into any delusional scenario that the Packers can pull off a win. “Okay,” I say. “If the Packers can just throw a Hail Mary in less than 7 seconds. Then they onside kick. Then if they can get another Hail Mary in less than 10. Then another onside kick. Then they just need to throw within the 35 yard line and set up a ball spike. That should give the special teams about 2 seconds on the clock. Then Mason Crosby kicks the field goal and we’re in overtime!” In case you don’t watch sports this scenario is less likely to happen than getting “Hamilton” tickets before the exit of Lin-Manuel Miranda. I’m lying to myself in the hopes that we defeat the either of the most evil organizations on the planet: the Minnesota Vikings or Chicago Bears. Okay, I’ve lost some of you in the analogy, but you get the picture. You’re trying to find scenarios in which Bernie becomes the Rocky Balboa of our time where the DNC sees “The errors of their ways” and goes with the underdog. Going with the long shot everyone in your inner circle seems to love. The guy the Bernie devotees have anticipated since they became a disciple of democratic socialism.
It isn’t happening. The DNC doesn’t want to push a progressive agenda. We’ve showed them the polls, we’ve shown them the things about Hillary we don’t like, and many of you have thrown temper tantrums screaming that you will never vote for her, hoping the DNC sees the situation the way you do. You think the problem is that the DNC thinks they have your vote no matter what, and the Clinton fundraising machine is more important to their party than your ideals. It’s a multi horse race but we all know there are only two real horses to bet on; the GOP and the DNC. You’re starting to feel that the Democrats aren’t the progressive organization you hoped it would change into. Bernie showed us that, but in the confusion and anger we have become disorganized and lost the meaning of what it means to be progressive. We’ve been so dead set on getting Bernie into the White House we have forgotten all the change that Bernie has made along the way. The DNC IS starting to change, and it’s up to us to keep changing it. In the little over a year that Bernie has run, he has accomplished incredible things.
-started with little name recognition where he started in the polls at 3% nationally, and in a year caught up to Hillary by being WITHIN 3% nationally. Catching up to an American royal family of politics who has the endorsement of almost every Senator, House Representative, and Governor in the US.
-He has put 5 people on the DNC committee in charge of helping to create the DNC platform. All progressive darlings and has been allowed to appoint more people to the committee than any runner up in DNC history.
-He’s brought recognition to a broken primary system in which multiple states are now dumping their super delegates with the outcry of unfairness.
-He’s forced Hillary to the left on many of the issues that usually keeps her at the level of many Republicans.
-He was the only candidate to start talking about income inequality and now a few days ago HRC did an entire speech on income inequality (although she did it in a $12k Armani jacket. Baby steps I guess.)
-There are now multiple candidates running for congress (Tim Canova, Alan Grayson, Lucy Flores, Eric Kingson) and multiple progressives at state and local levels who ARE progressive. They are running on a platform of income inequality, and getting campaign finance reform by running campaigns funded by people. Not Super PACs and corporate donors.
-Now he's one of the most beloved members in Congress and goes back to work with huge support; and remember he was already the Amendment King before this all started.
Not only did he do these things, but he did them using grassroots organizing to keep the corporate leash off his neck. According to Harvard he did all this with minimum media coverage, and without the majority of the DNC establishment; something we haven’t seen successfully done within either of the major parties in over 30 years. If you think that’s nothing, I don’t know what to tell you. These are MAJOR accomplishments to happen in a year. My friend Dave Reinitz told me last year that Bernie had a chance and as much as I loved Bernie, I dismissed it quickly based solely on his stance on gay marriage and how progressive he was on other issues. So much so Dave thought I was confusing Bernie with Barney Frank! But Dave was more right than I was. I was completely shocked at how many non-progressives want the changes that Bernie has been advocating for all these years. I had no idea that “Socialist” finally wasn’t as dirty a word as it has been since the McCarthy era propaganda first took root, forever changing the American political zeitgeist (although I’m still split on this considering how I self identify as a socialist and people still seem to shudder. Can’t get them all.).
The cherry on top is that Elizabeth Warren is revealed to be on Hillary’s list of potential Vice President picks after a recent hack of the DNC. That’s a huge olive branch from the neoliberals in the DNC leadership. The acceptance of a candidate who repeatedly attacks Wall Street and banker greed is a reach out to the progressives within the party and progressive independents. No, she did not sell out. At least that’s the way I see it. According to Politico Wall Street donors are scared. The DNC has heard you loud and clear and knows that if they don’t start choosing some progressives in major DNC roles, HRC’s campaign might inevitably drive people to Donald Trump’s side (an issue I will touch on in a minute). We have five people Bernie hand picked to help organize the DNC platform, Elizabeth Warren as a possible Vice Presidential candidate, and you still think nothing has happened because of Bernie? Revolutions are a marathon, not a sprint. Get some endurance! Occupy never died and Bernie was the next step forward. It’s not over. If you want to change the system, giving up now will only halt the progress made thus far. We have to keep pushing just as the Tea Party did to the Republicans. Only a progressive push will lead to policies that help a majority of Americans instead of the shadowy hand of the Koch brothers and corporate interests that started the Tea Party movement
So what’s the next step?
First of all, voting for Trump is not the answer. You’re kidding me, right? You’d rather send a sociopathic, xenophobic, pathological lying, arrogant, unethical, failed businessman, rich brat with tiny delicate childlike hands to the White House? Dude, I hate to say it but what are you thinking? Not to mention that justifies the Republicans and the exact platform that they are trying to promote. It won’t burn it to the ground. Instead we’ll have at best four years of total disaster that is predicted by experts to destroy the economy, environment and the lives of minorities who are already dealing with the fallout that his xenophobia has brought on. Sure, you feel you can weather the storm of a Trump presidency. Probably the same kind of imaginary storm that Donny doesn’t feel exists because in his world climate change is some elaborate hoax. Don’t let the Republicans think they have won. A Donald Trump presidency wouldn’t send them a message that you are angry at the DNC. Instead it would validate the Republican establishment and their policies. The GOP will think that they have won over more people which will give them more confidence to push through harmful legislation. Unless you have forgotten the lesson of getting ol’ George W. Bush (or G-Dubs as I like to call him) a super majority and the cleanup that had to happen after his presidency.
Second “not voting” isn’t the answer. Do you really think that by not voting you have solved anything? They listen to those that vote. Maybe not as much as donors, but they NEED votes to keep getting those sweet, sweet campaign dollars. Not to mention the local and state taxes, policies, local and state politicians, your congress representatives, judges and other initiatives on the ballot. Let me put this in all caps so it sinks in; THE PRESIDENT ISN’T THE ONLY REASON YOU SHOULD VOTE! One of the reasons that Obama has been so ineffective as President is because many voters failed to vote in the midterm elections. News flash: Every year there are elections! YOU need to STAY INVOLVED if you want change to occur. Not voting sends a message of apathy. It sends the message of “I don’t care what you do.” If you care, VOTE.
“So what do I do now?”
The option if you’re in a swing state and don’t like Hillary Clinton
This may hurt some of your feelings, but I would advise you to vote for Hillary Clinton. There are many things to not like about Clinton, but I personally think a Trump presidency is a scary, not to mention insane, option. People talk about Ralph Nader as if he completely screwed up everything in 2000 but I disagree. The fact is there was only one state that Ralph Nader took enough possible votes to effect the Electoral College. Unfortunately, in the crazy state of Florida, this gave the Presidency to G-Dubs. I personally- as I will say in a minute- have no problem voting your conscience. Al Gore was a mediocre candidate at best. This was shown over and over in weak polls back in the election of 2000. I hate how the DNC blames you for them propping up a candidate no one liked, and then saying it’s your fault they didn’t win because you voted for a candidate that you did like. That’s like getting mad at a person you like for marrying the person they’ve always liked. It also happened in 2004 when they chose John Kerry, and it’s possible that it’ll happen again this year with Hillary Clinton. However, I would say if you vote in a swing state, don’t let a Florida happen. If you can put your hurt feelings aside, vote for Hillary.
As much as many Bernie people like to attack Hillary we can’t ignore that she is on the left of the Republicans on many issues. Even though she is for fracking, she is also about regulating it, and recognizes global warming as a threat. Trump thinks, and I quote; “It's really cold outside, they are calling it a major freeze, weeks ahead of normal. Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!” (Tweet from October 19, 2016). She may have lots of corporate and Wall Street ties but she says she’s for reinstating Glass-Steagall. The Republicans want to regulate Wall Street less than regulators are currently. Even though she’s not for a national $15 minimum wage, she is for raising it to $12 an hour when Trump and Paul Ryan want to ELIMINATE the minimum wage altogether. She’s pro-choice when across the country in states like Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Florida we see state legislatures trying to get around “Roe v. Wade” with laws mandating ridiculous regulations that have no place in an abortion clinic. Do you really think that the person picking Supreme Court seats should be Donald Trump? The list goes on. She wants to expand the Affordable Care Act when the Republicans are trying to repeal it. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. She may not be the progressive candidate we want, but in swing states, it can mean whether or not we inch toward progressive values or we turn “Mad Max: Fury Road” into a prediction.
Options for those who refuse to vote for Hillary or are in solidly Blue/Red states:
Vote third party. Voting third party will send the message that you are sick of the two party system and that you want nothing to do with them. It sends the message that the outlandish spending of money in politics is something you will no longer tolerate. Voting the lesser of two evils does NOTHING to get them to even want to change. Why not vote third party? Especially in those solid blue or red states where it can be argued that your vote doesn’t matter. They don’t even have to win in order to improve the chances of having more voices in the political process. The two leading small parties are at least known in name; the Libertarian party, and the Green party. To get a “win” they need to get 5% of the vote to ensure federal funding for future election cycles and guaranteed ballot access in all 50 states (something that as of this point neither party has). Get them to 15% and they not only get federal funding, but they get a seat at the National Presidential debates in 2020. Your vote LITERALLY (in the original sense of the word literal) counts. “But I don’t agree with all of what they say” is an excuse. A perfect candidate doesn’t exist and in this case you aren’t voting for the winner, but they can win without a win if that makes sense. Even Bernie had a few things to me that I was like “okay buddy. I’ll just overlook that one.” You’re not voting for them to win, you’re voting to change the political climate and allow more options for all of us in the future. Their win is getting a boost in funding that will allow them to voice their platforms nationally. That win is only 5% of the vote.
You say you are conservative leaning and hate Donald Trump? Meet Gary Johnson! He was a Republican Governor of New Mexico and is for very limited government. Like practically no government. Like the American wild west frontiersman style of government. He’s about as small government as you can get. You could probably salivate to the number of programs he vows to cut. He’s also all about getting our troops out of the Middle East and the legalization of marijuana (hear that potheads?). Right now he’s polling at 12% in the Fox News polls. As of now he’s slated to be on 48 state ballots. “But I don’t agree with him on a lot of stuff!” Yes, but more voices helps to move the political discussion and forces the two major parties to reevaluate their platforms.
(You can find more about Gary Johnson’s political platform at: garyjohnson2016.com)
So you’re a progressive liberal who doesn’t like Hillary Clinton? Meet Dr. Jill Stein! Jill Stein is the Green Party nominee who has many of the exact same positions as our buddy Bernie. She’s anti-fracking, anti-war, against the privatization of prisons; antiestablishment to the max. She’s pro-marijuana legalization, pro-choice, pro-regulation, and pro-environment. She wants to institute federally financed elections for more parties. I don’t agree with how extreme some of her environmental policies go, or even some of her regulations, but it would be another set of voices in the discussion of how our country should be run. Plus you get to say to all those Hillary supporters “I’m with her” in a passive aggressive way!
(You can read more about her stances and views at: jill2016.com).
If you really want change do for these candidates what you have been doing for Bernie; volunteer, donate, phone bank, and canvas. I know you’ve done it a ton for Bernie over the past few months, but these two candidates REALLY need it. They are underfunded. On the national level the Green Party and Libertarian parties have historically had no chance. All thanks to the magical 5% number they can never seem to achieve thanks to the polarization of the Electoral College. Imagine if we got both of them to 15% and what that would mean for the general election in 2020. By donating your time you are helping “fringe” parties become more legitimate and giving yourself more options to vote for in the future.
I’d still rather not vote
Then vote “None of the Above.” I believe that sends a message as well. None of the above is your prerogative. I voted NOTA in many elections. It means none of the candidates are satisfactory to you. It means that you’ve done your research, and they were all subpar in your eyes. This isn’t “The Bachelor” and you have no contractual obligation to give a vote to someone you hate. It sends a message that you were willing to get up, go to your polling place and send the message “I hate all these choices. See? I voted.” Not to mention that there are other things to vote for. Taxes, policies, local and state judges, local and state positions, as well as congress (in case you forgot).
Lastly get involved on the local and state level
If you think that the Green Party and Libertarians need help there are a slew of candidates running locally and statewide that need all the help they can get.
If you dislike the way that Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been running the DNC, Tim Canova is challenging her in the 23rd district of Florida. She has the DNC completely behind her but Canova has been running a grassroots campaign against her and has been able to raise over $2 million from contributions from people, not Super PACS and corporate interests (sound familiar?). But Canova is going to need help if he’s going to throw out the head of the DNC with volunteers to make up for the warchest that DWS has access to (sound familiar?).
Alan Grayson is another Democrat from Florida running instead for the Senatorial seat using campaign funds raised by individual donations (this is sounding way too familiar at this point, right?). He’s running against a potential run from Marco Rubio. Unlike Rubio he is trying to get an assault rifle ban, campaign finance reform, and is anti-war.
Tom Fiegen in Iowa, Donna Edwards in Maryland, Lucy Flores in Nevada and others are all running on platforms inspired by the way that Bernie Sanders established his campaign. There are full lists online of progressives who need help both financially and need boots on the ground doing all the things we have done for Bernie. Giving the Amendment King an Army of progressives in the House and Senate sure is a great start to continuing the revolution so many of us want. It can also help whoever is voted President to be held accountable.
(Here is a short list of many Berniecrats: inthesetimes.com/features/bernie_sanders_democrats_political_revolution_candidates.html)
I’m the last person who will tell you that any way you vote is wrong, as long as you vote. I may have my opinions about your choices, but I want my fellow Americans to exercise their right to vote. I don’t believe in voting against your conscience. I don’t believe in voting the lesser of two evils. I definitely don’t believe in throwing a temper tantrum and voting out of spite because your guy lost the first round. Slowly we will become the future establishment and we will get our turn to run this country. Slowly we will become the leaders that help to establish not just our future, but our children’s future. Slowly we are becoming the establishment. One day your peers or maybe even yourself will be the the local and state politicians, party chairs, and Congressional members that run this country. What the word establishment will mean in the future, depends on how we slowly create that establishment by making our voices heard today in the ways that we can. “Establishment” doesn’t have to be a dirty word that makes people have visceral reactions. But if you choose not to vote, the status quo has won, and the establishment that you say you are against will continue. Your voice will be lost to corporate interests you say you’re against and the future will belong to the same crowd of corporate cronies that have been running this country since the Reagan era. Because I you sit down moping about how your guy didn’t win, those other people are out voting and organizing, despite your hurt feelings. You have a choice; accept defeat, or fight. Would you rather give up and take what life hands you, or get involved. Life is full of choices and it’s times like these that the choices we make can determine our future.
Now go make Bernie proud.