Dear fellow Democrats who voted for Hillary,
I’m going to paraphrase what I saw on Facebook from entirely too many “friends” as soon as the AP jumped the gun announcing Hillary’s victory:
Your idiot lost, so you need to stop whining like babies and get behind Hillary or Trump will win and the world will end.
This sums up quite succinctly why every damn Bernie Sanders supporter cringes at the thought of voting for Hillary. The arrogance, the condescension, the not-so-subtle bullying, and of course, the fear mongering about Trump. Before I analyze this further, let me just say that “vote for me because I’m not Trump” has never been a compelling argument.
If you give a damn about party unity, you’ll read this and take this to heart. Because this #StillSanders mom lives in New York where Democrats always win the state, and despite my lifelong party membership, I haven’t ruled out the notion of writing Bernie Sanders in or voting for Jill Stein to send a message.
Before the first vote was cast, Hillary Clinton was headed to her coronation. The media ensured this by telling everyone about the 500+ superdelegates who had said they’d vote for her. Never mind that, like every other voter in the country, they can change their minds up until the moment they actually vote. It has been evident in every single speech, every single debate, that Hillary felt she deserved the presidency, and anyone who dares get in her way is an annoyance. This sentiment trickled down to all of her supporters in disturbing ways.
When arrogance is at play, condescension follows. I cannot begin to tell you how many people, how many times, in how many ways told me I “just needed to learn more about Hillary” in order to forgo my foolish path of supporting that “fringe candidate” Bernie Sanders. Here’s the thing, I know all about Hillary Clinton. Maybe I’m not the average Bernie supporter, but I voted for Hillary to be my senator twice. I voted for her in the 2008 primary. And at the beginning of this election cycle, I had a mild distaste for her. Now? I despise her. Because not only have I learned more about her record, but I’ve learned more about who she is as a person and what type of leader she would be.
I’ve seen Hillary supporters praise Correct the Record for the “good work” they’re doing. You know what everyone who isn’t a Hillary supporter thinks? They’re trolls. They’re not only trolls, but they’re tone deaf trolls. Because Hillary has been running a tone-deaf campaign which presumes that the peons who haven’t thrown in for her aren’t smart enough to do their own research, that they just don’t know enough about just how hard it’s been for Hillary to be a woman in politics, that they just don’t understand that
corruption compromise is just the way things work.
It’s this attitude from Hillary the candidate, from Hillary’s official campaign surrogates, from her paid troll squad, and from her volunteer supporters that means I’m never clicking on a single damn blog post trying to tell me the virtues of Hillary Clinton and why I should give up on Bernie Sanders before the convention. I’ve heard the line before, and I don’t want to hear it again.
As if the condescension wasn’t bad enough, there’s been the out and out bullying. Condescension is a form of microaggression, which we should all recognize from our experience with sexism, racism, and other various -isms. But Bernie supporters have been on the receiving end of far more blatant bullying, and the gaslighting we face when calling out this injustice just adds insult to injury. In what seems like a stunning display of hypocrisy, Hillary supporters will eat up the narrative of the Bernie Bro and decry the (legitimate) misogyny hurled against Hillary…but they’ll turn a blind eye to the insults, the misogynist slurs, and even the death threats hurled at us from their version of the Bernie Bro, which I briefly dubbed as the “Hillary Hags,” but this felt too sexist.
Let me make this clear. The bad behavior of a very small percentage of Bernie’s supporters should not ever be used to dismiss the same bad behavior of a small percentage of Hillary’s supporters. Two wrongs don’t make a right. You read about “Bernie Bros” because the media latched onto that and ran with it. And yet you dismiss us when we talk about getting the same treatment from your team like it’s to be expected. Screw that.
I started out with passion and enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders and what he represents. The media has unfairly painted us as angry, “just as bad as Trump’s supporters.” I’m angry now, but it’s because of the way I’ve been bullied by strangers and supposed friends alike. And half of the friends I’m referring to probably don’t even acknowledge that they have engaged in the bullying behavior. I am not the Angry Young White Male the media has chosen to depict everyone who doesn’t support Hillary. I am a justifiably angry suburban mom who has been ridiculed, threatened, and dismissed because I care about economic inequality, universal healthcare, the environment, and stepping away from paternalistic militarism.
Hillary isn’t Trump. Well, clearly. But Bernie isn’t Trump either. But if your best argument for me and the 45% of Democrats who voted for Bernie to get behind Hillary is that she isn’t Trump, you’ve missed the whole point.
Yes, Hillary has a great record on reproductive rights and other issues that are important to me. But those issues are the 90% of things she and Bernie agree upon. It’s that tricky smaller percentage where they disagree that just happens to be a really big effing deal.
Hillary championed fracking around the world, but let’s take a look at how fracking has poisoned our domestic water supply and turned Oklahoma into a hotbed for earthquake activity. I’m not with her on that.
Hillary has said that support of multiple military actions that history proved wrong, but Bernie had voted against to begin with, were “mistakes.” Those mistakes cost us trillions of dollars and thousands upon thousands of lives. Her acknowledgement of those mistakes a decade later can’t undo the lasting damage they’ve caused. No, she wasn’t alone in being mistaken, but her opposition was right all along. Her next “mistake” could be with her finger on that Big Red Button. Saying “oops, my bad” 15 years later just isn’t going to cut it. I’m not with her on militarism.
Hillary supported universal healthcare in 2008, but has now said it’s impossible and we need to forget about it because it’s just “too hard” in this political climate. But while the ACA was certainly helpful for a large number of people, and I’m grateful for the part about pre-existing conditions, it’s not enough for entirely too many of us. I am among the millions of Americans who are underinsured. We have insurance, but we still can’t afford to get adequate medical care because our deductibles and our out-of-pocket maximums are too damn high. Universal health insurance is not good enough. I’m not with her on that.
I could go on, but as a woman living with chronic illness, universal healthcare is kind of a big deal to me, and I take personal offense at Hillary’s decree that she won’t even try to fight for universal healthcare.
Party Unity is on Her
Though I’ve been a registered Democrat my entire adult life – and that’s now officially longer than my time as too-young-to-be-a-Democrat – Hillary Clinton has to earn my vote. I feel like she and her campaign have gone so far out of their way to alienate people like me that I may just vote on another line in November. And as recently as a month ago, I was preaching #VoteBlueNoMatterWho because the #BernieOrBust contingent scared me. But in that time, I have been gut-punched by Hillary supporters too many times, and I will not be bullied into falling in line. I’ll admit it, I’m praying that Bernie is taking this to convention because Obama told him to let Hillary have her moment in the sun for making history as the first female nominee of a major party…but it won’t last because even he can’t stop the indictment that’s coming down. I know the chances of that are not high, but a girl can dream when she feels this aggrieved by her party.
Bernie should take this all the way to convention, even if his chances of winning are not high, because 45% of primary voters support his platform. And Hillary needs to acknowledge that she does not have the overwhelming support of her party, and she needs to move further left on the issues that are important to Bernie supporters like me. If she stands stubborn and firm against what we believe in, it will be her fault if she loses the White House…not ours.
The best way that Hillary could show that she’s willing to grant concessions to the 45% of Democrats who voted for Bernie – and more importantly, the larger number of Independent voters at play in the general election – is to ask Bernie to be her running mate. I’m not sure Elizabeth Warren would be enough for some people at this point, because we feel betrayed by the fact that she did not speak up for Bernie at all this entire election cycle. But having Bernie on the ticket, even if not first on the ticket, would be the one indisputable way to demonstrate that our concerns matter. I don’t know that I would believe her if she did shift her positions to the left otherwise. Words are wind.
What YOU Can Do RIGHT NOW
Now I’m talking to you, Hillary supporters. Yes, you. If you really care about party unity, you will immediately stop making snide, condescending remarks about Bernie and his supporters. We are not stupid. We know the superdelegate gambit is unlikely to work unless Hillary has to drop out of the race. But we are #StillSanders because the Democratic Party needs to acknowledge that we are a movement that will not go away after the convention or even after the general election. We are “woke” now, and neoliberalism will have no place in the future of our party…or our party will splinter and die. Only 28% of registered voters identify as Democrats, and we’re terrible at getting people to the polls. Only 26% of registered voters identify as Republicans, and they are absurdly good at getting people to the polls. But a whopping 44% of registered voters identify as Independents, and we want to have a platform that appeals to those progressive Independents who despise the corporate sponsorship of establishment politics.
If you want Bernie supporters to get behind Hillary, the smack talk needs to stop now. We don’t like Hillary, and we all have our reasons for not liking her. Whether or not you think those reasons are legitimate, you need to understand that you can’t change our distaste for her. What you can do is acknowledge that some of our criticism of her platform is legitimate, and withhold your knee-jerk reaction that any criticism is either sexist or a GOP talking point. You can acknowledge that, yeah, you’d actually prefer it if she adopted Bernie’s positions on some of the big issues. You can acknowledge that you may have inadvertently participated in the collective bullying and gaslighting of Bernie supporters with your “little remark” that was one of dozens we encountered every day. You can acknowledge that intersectionalism has not been Hillary’s strong suit in her messaging, which has been very Rich White Feminist all along, and that class privilege has played a huge role in the animosity between Democratic candidates and their supporters.
You cannot browbeat Bernie supporters into submission by telling us to be “pragmatic.” You can extend an olive branch. You can listen to us without preaching at us. Ignore this advice at your peril. Registered Democrats are a dying breed, and Registered Democrats alone cannot win this election. But without the full support of Registered Democrats, you can’t win this election…period.