#BernieOrBust is Harming the Democratic Party
The scorched-earth policy is not only anti-democratic, it could lead to a far worse outcome (i.e. a Trump presidency).
By Lauren Grimaldi, Roosevelt University
Though it has been clear for a while, Hillary Clinton has become the presumptive Democratic Party Nominee for the 2016 election.
Her win comes to the chagrin of many within the party, but to some the disappointment extends to an absolutely ridiculous extent, as “Bernie Bros” have started the #BernieOrBust movement, a campaign that promotes not voting for Hillary under any circumstance.
I understand why people may have issues with Secretary Clinton, even though I did vote for her myself in the primary. And while I think it is important that I admit my own bias, the idea of hating her so much that you would never be able to vote for her seems a tad dramatic to me.
Sanders’ most dedicated supporters, some of whom suspect that foul play played a part in their campaign’s loss, are incredibly misguided. Clinton has more votes, and reached the magic number of delegates before Bernie did, winning her the nomination in the same way that every other Democratic nominee has before her.
But, go ahead, tell me the race was somehow rigged against the Vermont Senator, or that DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was out to take down his “political revolution” in order to surrender ultimate power to the almighty Clinton family once more. If you don’t look at the facts, Bernie Bros do seem to really know what they are talking about.
In all fairness, inherent flaws within the nominating process for the Democratic party are apparent. Closed primaries hurt voter turnout, but they still do not bar people from voting. Sanders’ status as an Independent senator increases the likelihood that his supporters may not be registered Democrats, but the rules were clearly laid out if you paid attention to the election in your state. And as statistician Nate Silver recently proved, an open primary in every state would not have made much of a difference. Clinton would have still beaten Sanders handily, simply because more people voted for her.
Still, it is not fair to make the voting process arduous for voters that wish to not identify with a party. The DNC is working to fix that problem, as faults were apparent this election because of the support Sanders received. But the math still does not add up to prove that the election was rigged against him, rendering that argument as a whole utterly unfounded.
Hillary Clinton does not appeal to the average millennial because of her past. Many propose that her status as an elite member of the establishment is cause for concern because she may not have the common folk’s best interests at heart. Her positions over time on specific issues like gay marriage and raising the minimum wage have changed, so I really do understand the concern on whether or not her convictions are as she says. But I also don’t believe those small concerns should morally bar people from casting a ballot for her. It’s not like Clinton is going to take back all of what she’s promised and change it in for conservative policies.
I’m not saying that all of Sanders’ supporters need to don Clinton t-shirts and attend her rallies with the same passion seen at his, but there is no more room in the Democratic Primary for their strong dissent. Though a majority of his supporters have recently realized their loss and thrown their support to Clinton (albeit reluctantly so in some circumstances), the voices of those who remain morally opposed to voting for Hillary Clinton are loud enough to become concerning. I understand Bernie’s loss is disappointing, but it should not come as a surprise, nor so much of a distress that you become angry enough to threaten people.
Likewise, while he has condemned his supporters’ threats of violence, Sanders’ reaction to losing the nomination has not exactly been helpful in enticing his most dedicated devotees to vote for Hillary. He has yet to offer an endorsement of his rival, though he has been so kind to say he will work with her, because defeating presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump remains the top priority. His lukewarm comments on Clinton only further divide those on the fence about her. In his reaction to the loss, Sanders is showing what kind of politician he truly is—and should he fail to fully endorse Clinton, he would be showing an incriminating inability to compromise.
Democracy itself will falter if the party fails to come together in support of a candidate.
In contrast, Clinton fully endorsed Barack Obama in her 2008 concessions speech just days after officially losing the nomination. The Associated Press named HRC the winner over two weeks ago and there are no more primaries, yet Sanders refuses to officially concede the race. His faults as a politician should be evident based on that fact alone. While he may still eventually endorse Clinton, every day he doesn’t makes the Bernie or Bust cries stronger.
In fact, Chicago recently hosted an event entitled “The People’s Summit” where some of Sanders’s most dedicated supporters gathered to discuss progressive ideals and how to get them enacted into our government. At this event, the idea of Sanders endorsing Clinton was called “disgusting,” “a betrayal of all of his principles” and a “hard pill to swallow.” No one has to immediately adore Clinton because of her win, but continuing to loathe her based off of a perceived lack of progressive courage is not the least bit helpful to the Democratic agenda.
As President Barack Obama recently argued in a speech for graduates at the Howard University commencement, “Democracy requires compromise, even when you are 100 percent right.” Bernie Sanders may have better ideas than Clinton on some economic issues, but his knowledge on issues beyond the economy and social justice remains limited.
Clinton won because of her deep qualifications for the presidency. Sanders’ ideas of economic equality may be wholly correct, but he lost the nomination nonetheless.
Now is the time to come together as a party instead of continuing to argue an already decided nomination. Democrats must maintain control of the White House. Bernie or Bust isn’t helping that hope, only harming it, so we must ensure that Sanders’s most ardent supporters begin to see compromise is the only option—and a good one at that.