Tuesday, June 7, 2016

For Bernie supporters, from a Bernie supporter

No, Bernie supporters, you do not have to vote for Hillary in November.

No one responds well to “You HAVE to vote for so-and-so.” As I mentioned on Facebook, when I caucused for Howard Dean in 2004, I had Kerry delegates smugly tell me how we Dean and Kucinich supporters would HAVE to vote for Kerry, how we were wasting our votes and wasting the time of the Democratic Party and giving a gift to the GOP by daring to not vote for the presumptive nominee. I was so angry at hearing it again and again that, when Dean dropped out, I toyed with not voting AT ALL - why would I vote for a man whose supporters think so little of me and MY values? I saw Clinton supporters doing the same as those Kerry supporters, especially in the last month, and it’s a shame, because all it does is drive potential supporters - VOTERS - away. I did vote for John Kerry that November, but many Dean and Kucinich did not, because Kerry spent his entire campaign trying to run down Bush and trying to deflect criticism of his own record; Kerry made no effort to appeal to those disenfranchised Dems, and the consequence was that he LOST to a wildly unpopular President. In 2008, many Hillary supporters talked repeatedly to the press about how they would NOT support Obama, so candidate Obama went out of his way to address the concerns of Hillary voters - and the result was that they voted for him in droves. It was NOT because Hillary said, "Vote Obama", it was because Obama worked to earn those votes. Hillary supporters - and Clinton herself - should take heed of this.

When Gore won the popular vote in 2000, but was robbed of the presidency by Florida and Ohio shenanigans, I blamed the GOP… and all those who voted for Ralph Nader. I wasn’t crazy at all about Al, for all the same reasons I’m not crazy about Hillary - but there was no question he was better than the Shrub, and the Supreme Court has always been enough of a reason for me to vote Democrat, so I was really bitter about Nader voters for not helping to stop George Bush. Plus, I don't think Nadar is qualified to run the country. But I changed my mind about Nader supporters a few months into 2001, as I read more and more about voter turnout and their points of view. Nader supporters voted their values and wanted to send a strong message to the Democratic Party - and I respect that, because that's what my country is about: voting your beliefs. If Al Gore, the Democratic Party candidate, didn’t appeal to them, that’s the candidate’s problem - no one else to blame. It’s up to the primary winner to work to unite the party - that’s part of his or her job. If she can’t do that, then how will she work with a divided Congress, like she keeps assuring us she can?

I am going to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, even though I’m frightened of what her foreign policy will be and have no idea where she stands on so many issues - she went from pro-Palestinian to staunchly pro-Israel, she was for the China trade deal before she was against it (though I’m hearing hints that she’s for it again), she never championed raising the minimum wage but now, ta da, is talking about it (though in TINY increments), she was so pro Gun the first time she ran for President that candidate Obama said she sounded like “Annie Oakley” (look it up!), she pushed HARD for fracking in Europe while secretary of state (much to the anger of Europeans, who do NOT want it) but now claims environmentalist credentials, she was staunchly against gay marriage and then, after every other Dem was for it, changed her mind at last - but denied she ever changed her mind - and on and on.  Her comments regarding Nancy Reagan and AIDS were horrific and shameful, and her reasons offered as to why she did so were nonsensical. Looking at her record as Senator and Sec of State, she’s hawkish and pro-corporation and pro-banks, even those that almost bankrupted our country, and she has given workers rights and consumer rights only ocassional lip service - she has no strong track record on their behalf. Pressure from Sanders supporters compelled her to change her healthcare stance and suggest an early buy-in for Medicare, but once elected, I suspect she’ll abandon that stance. I fear for those of you with family members in the military while she’s President - we're invading somewhere (Syria? Libya? Somewhere new?). And I greatly fear for our economy, as she has made it clear she’s a staunch friend of the banks and institutions that almost brought down our economy a few years ago - and feels their support is more important than championing the working class. Gads, Clinton wore a jacket worth $12,495 during a speech on income inequality! Her actions and words show her incredibly out-of-touch with most people in the USA. It's heart-breaking.

I used to feel very differently about Hillary Clinton. When I voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, my vote was as much for her as for him. She then had a long track record for action and for speaking out about children’s rights, and was lauded for her legal work regarding children’s law. When Bill was President, conservatives said her work usurped traditional parental authority - and she just scoffed at them. I remember her going off script during a 1998 talk with Israeli and Palestinian teens meeting as part of the organization Seeds of Peace. I remember the controversy when she referred to “Palestine”. She was asked by someone at the meeting why she referred to a country that doesn’t exist, and she said: “I think that it will be in the long-term interest of the Middle East for Palestine to be a state, to be a state that is responsible for its citizens’ well-being, a state that has responsibility for providing education and health care and economic opportunity to its citizens.” The next year, she attended a speech at which Suha Arafat, the wife of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and afterward, Clinton kissed Suha on the cheek, as is customary in the region - and Republicans lost their minds. Oh, yeah, THAT Hillary Clinton was *awesome*. She was her own person. I wanted to vote for THAT Hillary Clinton when she ran for President someday. But, unfortunately, that Hillary Clinton went away the moment she started running for the Senate, and I haven’t seen her since.

But I will vote for her in November, because I do know she will very likely appoint pro-choice candidates to the Supreme Court. An anti-choice candidate on the Supreme Court will be disastrous beyond measure. It will affect women you love in your life, women you work with - oh so many women in your life. The misery will be horrific. That’s why I’ll vote for Hillary Clinton in November. I just cannot sit by and let more anti-choice judges get appointed. I care about your daughters too much, folks.

Despite my problems with her track record and lack of action on so many critical issues, I also believe she is qualified to be President, that she has the capability to do the job.

I also know that Hillary Clinton will respond to the results of the mid-term elections - so that’s on us, Bernie supporters, to make sure those go Democrat - and our kind of Democrat, the one that is focused on our core party principles, on what’s best for the majority of people, not just the top 1%. We Sanders supporters have drastically affected Hillary Clinton's campaign for President. Let’s keep that pressure on and drastically affect her time as President, for the better. She will work to represent us only if we continue the pressure on her to do so.

I’ve said I will vote for Hillary Clinton in November, and why - but my reason is not enough for millions of other Sanders supporters. If Hillary Clinton wants to win, she needs to unite the Democrats - that’s her job, not Bernie’s. She needs to detail her capabilities and her VALUES and her GOALS. You were Secretary of State, but what did you accomplish as such? You were great defending yourself regarding those Benghazi allegations - but what did you do that brought the USA big benefits, that made USAID more effective, that made the world a better place? Bernie energized the party with plans to make attending public universities affordable again, to stop the unreasonable burdens of student debt, to make health care truly universal, to help working families, to make the 1 percent pay their fair of taxes - heck, to return us to the higher tax rates of the Reagan era! - so what are you going to offer those Democrats so they know you represent all tax brackets and classes? Show us your values, in practice, because many of us just do NOT know what they are - there’s just so many, many contradictions in your actions and words since you left the White House as First Lady. Talk explicitly about how you will be different as President than your husband. Which policies of the Bill Clinton administration does Hillary Clinton still endorse, and which does she NOT? I’d rather hear how you are going to be like OBAMA than like Bill! We do NOT want Bill Clinton II! And be honest about how you’ve changed your positions - because you HAVE — and why. I can respect a candidate that disagrees with me - I disagreed with Bernie on guns, among other issues. I can respect a candidate that changes, that evolves. But I can’t respect denial - so drop that immediately, Candidate Clinton. Own your actions.

I have just criticized Hillary, in detail, for her job and candidacy performance. Not her makeup, not her hair, not her voice, not her physical shape, not her gender. And I have been JUST as hard on past Secretaries of State, male and female. So any of you that accuse me of not being a “real” feminist for my lukewarm support Hillary Clinton: bite my ass and unfriend me. I'm so tired of seeing people accused of sexism because they criticized Clinton's job performance or supported Bernie instead.

It will be nice to have a woman President in the USA, of course, and I'll celebrate that. I would have said something quite similar if Colin Powell had become the first black USA President, even though he's a Republican and I wouldn't have voted for him. I loathed Condoleezza Rice, but still found huge delight in watching a black American woman treated with such deference by deeply sexist, racist regimes. A female presidency is a cultural breakthrough, one that's long overdue, and it's worth celebrating by everyone.

Fellow Sanders supporters, we also have something more to celebrate: WE are the future of the Democratic Party. Look at the ages of Bernie supporters, look at the demographic trends of all voters. Despite the work of the Democratic leadership to stop it, despite the media coverage being mostly mocking and dismissive, Sanders did far, far better, with far, far less money than Clinton, than anyone every dreamed. His message resonated - even with Republicans. If the Dem party leadership continues to ignore us, the Dems are doomed, and Clinton will be their last Presidency for a long while. If Clinton supporters continue to say things like "Bern extinguished!", then the Democratic Party is dead - I'll bring the shovel.

Bernie supporters, if you don’t vote for Hillary, I hope you will vote for *someone* - but not Trump. There's candidates from the Green Party, the Socialist Party - probably even Prohibition (there usually is). Every state is different in terms of it is allowing on its ballot in November. By voting for someone - not Trump, please - your vote will be seen. If you don’t vote, you aren’t seen, and you are written off as not caring and not worth reaching - if you have doubt of that, look at the Kentucky Governor’s race from 2015, when a fraction of the population chose the government, and only a bit more voted at all. If everyone who is disappointed in the GOP and Dem candidates for President would vote for someone  - but not Trump - as a protest vote, it would have a huge impact on how the two big parties respond - because they would know you exist and want your vote and work for it. There are many millions of Sanders supporters - don't disappear at the polls! Secondly, get on the mailing list for the local Democratic Party and go to meetings a few times a year, let your voice be heard, maybe even become a delegate or a precinct captain yourself (I intend to do the latter). That’s the only way to vote OUT people like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Alison Lundergan Grimes that are currently in Democratic Party leadership positions - they are COUNTING on your apathy or anger to keep you from participating, and to keep them in those positions, so they can keep the Democratic Party the way it is. They need to GO. There’s a mid-term election in two years - let’s dominate it.

I hope Hillary Clinton, as nominee and, eventually, as President, surprises me, as President Obama has surprised me. I wasn’t at all googly eyed when he was elected, and I found his aloofness for his first four years disturbing - and I believe it contributed to the loss of the House to the GOP, and a closer race in 2012 than should have been. But his accomplishments over eight years are jaw-dropping, and now I’m a blathering idiot fan. Make me a blathering idiot fan, Hillary. At least make me respect you as much as I respect Angela Merkel, whom I loathed in the years before she became Chancellor of Germany - she's surprised me so much with her daring decisions that have put human rights first.

I keep hearing Clinton supporters say, "It's time to get behind our nominee!" Right now, the most you will get from me is my vote and this blog saying why I'll be voting for her. If you want more, you'll have to earn it.

Hillary Clinton, you’ve got a lot of work to do to win over several million Democrats. And I'm open to your overtures. But such support is up to you - not Bernie Sanders. And I mean it in all sincerity that I hope you do it. We'll be watching and listening. And if you work to address our very serious, real concerns, you'll earn a lot more votes than by trying to appeal to disaffected Republicans.

Update many hours after I wrote this: Is there an echo in here, New York Times? Hillary Clinton’s Triumph, and Burden: "Unless she makes a substantial effort to win them over, they might stay home, and low turnout historically helps Republicans."

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