A letter to my fellow Sanders supporters. (Clinton supporters, please peek.)
Hillary continues to gain votes, and delegates, and states in the primary. Many voters evidently are convinced that having the first woman president, a seasoned diplomat, and a strategic policy wonk in the White House is a good idea. I have to admit, it sounds positive.
What Bernie has done, and continues to do, is to keep the focus on the fact that the middle and poorer classes are suffering, thanks to many things, including policies that have failed to more fairly distribute the economic gains of the 80s–2010s. These policies are what Bernie has criticized throughout his career.
That criticism persuaded Hillary to emphasize her legitimate liberalism, and to distance herself from the pro-business, moderate focus of prior Presidents of the past decades. She also now rails against Republican candidates’ extremism, rather than adopting Obama’s 6-year miscalculation that he could compromise with the GOP. It appeared to us Sanders supporters that she adopted Bernie’s platform. This was frustrating, but because she is at her core a liberal (if not quite as liberal as Sanders), it is now, since she’s winning, a good thing.
My hope, short of Sanders being granted a miracle in the West, is that the policy focus — not the personal accusations and defeatism — of my fellow Sanders supporters will continue to demonstrate to Hillary that she does not need to tack more moderate if she wins the nomination. This can be done by staying in the game, cheering her liberal statements, actively supporting progressives down-ticket, acknowledging Clinton’s progressive actions and proposals, and going to the polls to vote for her if she wins the nomination. And saying you will, rather than bad-mouthing her or saying there’s no difference among “establishment” candidates.
With this qualified support, I hope she will calculate that the odds favor her staying left, where her heart lies, and hear that becoming bolder about working people’s priorities can work, as it has for Bernie. I also hope that she will hear Sanders premise, and cop to the fact that big money access equals influence, if only in framing discussions. With that, she can start treating those who have benefited so much from policies since the 70s as of no greater value than the average working Americans who have not. This would help her credibility with those of us who don’t like her strategic method, which often reads, on the surface, as dishonesty and hypocrisy. And we can cop to the fact that being able to knowledgeably deal with all the stakeholders in a discussion can be productive. This has been her claim — that she’s liberal, but can get the job done. Let us hold her to that.
Cynicism and defeatism will only convince people who have become inspired at the possibility of a political revolution that the system is rigged, that they don’t, in fact, have a voice. Bernie said from the beginning, this is not about him, but about turning things around. Take him at his word. His single-handed redefinition of campaign finance is already inspiring copy-cat drives. If we now turn to saying that the system is rigged, that elections are being stolen, that our candidate lost, so it doesn’t work, then the revolution that Sanders is calling for is over before it’s begun — you make it about him, after all.
To quote the man, “Working together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.” Work in a way that keeps us working, together. Support Bernie, don’t attack Hillary. If she wins the nomination, support her. The Yoga Sutras (I.32) concur, with advice for keeping peace of mind, which we need, in the face of all the work that needs to be done in America: Cultivate supportiveness for those who honorably succeed.
Feel the Bern. Stay in the revolution.