This last week at the Democratic National Convention, comedian Sarah Silverman and former SNL star-gone politician Al Franken paired up to give a short presentation for the delegates. Cracking a few jokes and speaking of their support for both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, the crowd proved hard to please. In fact, for most of the first day, many delegates in support of Sanders were outraged by the DNC chair’s resignation and surround controversy, and the inevitable defeat of Bernie by Hillary in the coming days. As I watched, I witnessed a booing crowd to the sound of Clinton’s name and numerous chants of “Feel the Bern!” or “Lock her up!” As a Bernie fan, I have never felt so outraged and humiliated by my own party–and Silverman felt the same. An avid Sanders supporter herself, when the crowd booed at her for saying she would vote for Clinton with “gusto,” she responded, “Can I just say, to the Bernie or Bust people: you’re being ridiculous.”
What has now probably become one of the most famous lines from this year’s DNC, Silverman spoke with a frank truth–she’s right.
Nearly ten months ago when I went to see Sanders speak at a rally in Greensboro, my mind was set on which candidate I preferred for the Democratic ticket. Myself and my family have been Clinton supporters since her first run for president in 2008 (in fact, I remember my dad considering not to vote for Obama in 2008 when he didn’t choose Clinton as his running mate). But with all the controversies surrounding Hillary, her swaying opinions over the years, and shady past, I had been drawn away from her and her campaign. Bernie Sanders spoke to me and my generation. He was genuine. He wasn’t like every other politician.
From the very beginning, I knew it would be hard to score Sanders a ticket for the Democratic Party. Here we had an Independent Senator running on a Democratic ticket against one of the most famous American politicians of our time, in an election that was drawing attention to another particular person in the opposing party. Sanders basically had no chance.
Yet I still helped. I wrote articles about him. I donated a small amount of money to his campaign. I followed his policies closely. I basically fell in love with Bernie Sanders and everything that he stood for and, in the process, began to despise Hillary Clinton.
But in the back of my mind I knew that there was a large possibility that I would be choosing between her and the Republican nominee. I was passionate, I was driven, I never lost hope (and still haven’t), but I kept my feet on the damn ground.
And this November, I will be voting for Hillary Clinton, and it will not be a vote between the lesser of two evils. It will be a vote to move America in the right direction, it will be a vote that actually can affect our country, it will be a vote for policies that do directly reflect my opinions. I am a Bernie Sanders supporter, and I will happily vote for Hillary Clinton.
But then we have Sanders supporters who chant the slogan, “Bernie or Bust.” We have Democrats refusing to vote for their party nominee because their personal pick wasn’t chosen by the delegates. Yes, politics is unfair. Yes, I would have preferred Bernie as well. But we don’t always get what we want, and we can’t react with a stubborn, childish mindset.
Because, as I said in this previous article, not voting for Clinton is a vote against Clinton–a vote for Donald Trump. Maybe she doesn’t reflect your opinions entirely, but what political candidate ever will? Yes, she’s a liar, but have you ever listened to Trump? She’s no Bernie Sanders, but when you have Sanders proudly standing in support for Clinton, and you’re still refusing to consider her, you need a serious wakeup call.
Many people are calling Sanders a coward for supporting Hillary, for not running on a separate ticket. Many are calling him a sellout. But the truth is, he was a sellout from the very beginning, because he knew he wouldn’t have a chance in this race without conforming to the political system in some way or another. Bernie Sanders is a registered Independent, and he ran on the Democratic ticket because, though Independents have great stances, he knew the harsh reality of American politics: Independents have never stood a chance against Democrats and Republicans. He knew he’d have to run with one of the two major parties in order to have attention brought to him.
And when he didn’t secure the nomination, he didn’t give up. He sided with Clinton, making a very important political ally in order to hopefully carry out some of his ideas in her administration. Choosing to stay with the Democratic party and support Clinton is, undoubtedly, the best decision of his political career–anything else would have ruined him.
But he didn’t just do it for his career. He did it for the American people, for the Democratic Party. He did it so he could reinforce his ideas for this country into a future administration for the people that need a higher minimum wage, universal healthcare, and longer maternity leave. If he had run on a separate ticket after his defeat, he would never have the influence that he’s now been granted with the Clintons.
He didn’t want the Democratic Party to split. With the hot mess that is modern-day politics, Sanders is trying his best to keep Democrats unified, because to split the vote means an automatic win for the Republican Party and an ultimate blow to the Democratic Party.
Politics are a very tricky, manipulated game, and Bernie Sanders believes this–but he’s still a politician. But he’s a politician who cares about the people of America, and he’s a man who knows how to make a right decision. If you’re truly Bernie or Bust, you’d go with his decisions to support the second-best candidate for the party. Refusing to do so, is as ignorant and dangerous as a vote for Trump.
Photo Courtesy of: Mia Renee Cole