Dear fellow Bernie backers,
I feel your pain. I know your heartache. Like you, I long for a Democratic Party that that stands for boldly progressive policies, that embraces an agenda that benefits the little guy instead of the one percent, that shuns the pessimism and defeatism of our nation’s recent politics, that appeals to our better angels. I, too, was inspired by the Bern’s improbable campaign, and saddened that he didn’t quite make it to the finish line ahead of his rival.
The difference between you and me is that I’m almost as old as Bernie; I’ve seen all this before, and I have some advice based on my long experience observing, writing and cartooning about politics.
Bernie lost. It sucks. Now get over it and support Hillary.
I know, I know, it’s a painful thing to hear. Here’s something else you won’t want to hear, but it’s the truth.
Like it or not, we have in this country a two-party system. You can vote for the Democrat, or for the Republican. Any other vote is wasted, or worse. Voting your conscience, while it may seem noble and righteous, is, to put it bluntly, stupid.
And I don’t think you’re stupid.
Either Clinton or Trump (assuming the Republican Party doesn’t come to its senses and dump The Donald) is going to win in November. Nobody else will. It may feel really good to believe that by voting for someone–anyone–else, or by refusing to vote at all, you will avoid being responsible for the result, but you won’t. In fact, you may well be criminally complicit in putting a terribly wrong person (that would be The Donald) in the White House.
Yes, I know. That leaves Hillary, imperfect as she may be. Suffice it to say that nobody who’s been in politics for very long is without sin, and that includes, believe it or not, the Bernster. He is not the Messiah. He’s a cranky old socialist (the best kind, in my opinion) with some appealing ideas, and Hillary’s not the devil incarnate. I won’t even bother to go into why the reasons you despise her are probably dead wrong, because they don’t really matter.
Here’s the only thing that actually does matter, and it’s not that Donald Trump is an obnoxious narcissistic asshole without the judgment, temperament, experience or wisdom to be president; it’s that if Trump wins he will appoint the next Supreme Court justice, and the Republicans likely will continue to control both houses of Congress.
Despite what you might want to believe in your zeal for Bernie and your distaste for Hillary, there are substantive differences between the Democratic and Republican parties, and those differences have real and important consequences.
Let’s start with the now deadlocked Supreme Court. The next president will either keep the Court reliably right wing or swing it for the first time in a generation to the left. Would you rather have him appoint another Antonin Scalia or have her appoint another Ruth Ginsburg?
Would you rather have the next president fight for gun control or for the NRA? For the middle class or for more tax cuts for billionaires? For regulation of the banks or for letting them run amok? For fair lending practices or for greed? For workers’ rights or for big business? For a higher minimum wage or for the status quo? For supporting unions or for busting them? For criminal justice reform or for mass incarceration?
For investing in infrastructure or for more spending cuts? For solar and wind power or for Big Oil and coal? For strong environmental protections or for their repeal? For action on global warming or for climate change denial? For strengthening the social safety net or for destroying it? For protecting Medicare and Social Security or for starving them? For respecting people of all religions or for demonizing some? For an open society or for a surveillance state?
And I could go on and on.
And here’s the thing: despite what some candidates promise, the president isn’t an absolute monarch. He or she can’t wave a magic scepter and make college free or mandate universal health care or stop corporations from shifting profits overseas all by his or her lonesome. The next president can’t do very much of anything if Congress won’t go along, That means that the president’s party needs to control at least one house of Congress, and preferably both.
There’s a very good chance in November that the Democrats take back the Senate, and at least significantly weaken the Republican stranglehold in the House, if they win the presidency. See, there’s this thing called coat tails, in which the party of the winning presidential candidate usually makes big gains in Congress. It would be nothing short of catastrophic if the Democrats were to lose the presidency to the egomaniacal buffoon the GOP has selected, and Congress were to stay in Republican hands, as well. Which could happen if enough Bernistas make the wrong decision on election day.
Those are the real issues in this election, not whether you can stomach anyone other than the Bern.
So suck it up and vote for Clinton, and for every other Democrat on the ballot.