Addressing One of the Biggest Issues with Some Bernie Sanders Supporters

After nearly a year of being called a “shill,” a “fake progressive,” “no better than a Republican,” a “corporate sellout” and/or being accused of being paid by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, I’ve reached my limit with this childish nonsense. So I thought I would finally say what I’ve been wanting to say for quite some time.

First, this does not go out to all Bernie Sanders supporters. I am well aware that the vast majority of those backing the Vermont senator are amazing, rational people who understand how much is at stake this election. The people I’m addressing fall in the 20-25 percent category of irrationally rabid Sanders supporters who act like they’re a member of some radical cult more than anything else.

These are the folks who make up the left-wing version of the tea party. Ideologues who buy into absurd conspiracies theories, ignore facts that don’t confirm their bias and reject any source of information that doesn’t tell them what they want to hear.

Though I can’t help but wonder: Where the were all these people in 2010 and 2014? 

I know where I was — busting my ass to do my best to try to defeat Republicans in those midterm elections so that President Obama would hopefully have a Congress that would work with him so we could get more progressive policies passed in this country. Despite what many voters seem to think, without a Congress willing to pass legislation, a president is essentially powerless to get a whole lot done. I can’t help but shake my head when I see some liberals complain about what this president didn’t do when he spent the vast majority of his presidency dealing with the most obstructive Congress in history because so many supposed “true progressives” decided that they only needed to show up to vote every four years.

I’m sorry folks, but President Obama didn’t have a magical wand he could wave to make all your unrealistic hopes and dreams come true — that’s not how government works.

Then just over 18 months ago Republicans all across this country, at all levels of government, ran away with huge victories during the 2014 midterms in an election that saw historically low voter turnout. That’s interesting considering how “angry” so many Sanders supporters claim to be about the “status quo” and “business as usual.”

Were issues like climate change, Wall Street reforms, campaign finance reform, health care, the minimum wage, income inequality, affordable college education and gay rights not that important just a few months ago, or were people just not “angry” about them back then — all of less than two years ago?

Again, I know what I was doing back then: spending many of my days writing articles like this one or this one practically begging liberals to get out and vote in that election.

But what do I know, right? I’m just a “fake progressive” and a “shill” — even though I’ve busted my ass and voted in every election and I’ve spent a good part of my life fighting to hopefully see Republicans lose as many elections as possible.

While I’ve apparently been “paid to support Clinton” during this election (I guess that applies to every single American who supports her), even though her “bi-weekly checks” never seem to come, I still spend most of my time fighting to save this country from Republican ignorance. Meanwhile, many of these “real progressives who demand change” seem to have had better things to do than actually, you know, voting to give this president a Congress that would help him bring about that change.

Oh, and for the record, it’s real mature to accuse people of being paid by a candidate to support them simply because they have a different opinion than you do.

So, please excuse me if I’m a tad cynical when it comes to the “angry passion” so many claim to have right now when I’m certain that good chunk of these folks (in particular the Bernie or bust crowd) didn’t bust their ass for progressive change in 2010 or 2014 when it wasn’t as “hip,” “cool” or “popular” to do so. Especially when many of these people have had the gall to tell those who’ve been fighting this battle for years (if not decades) that, because we prefer one candidate over another, we’re suddenly not up to their standards of what is or isn’t a “real progressive.”

A lot of this has reminded me of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that was going to “change everything” when people were sick and tired of Wall Street corruption after the 2008 economic collapse. That ultimately fizzled and died out after it wasn’t quite as “cool” or “trendy” to make vague statements and demands without actually having a feasible plan to accomplish anything other than lecturing anyone and everyone who dared question anything that they were doing.

Though I’ll tell you this much, if a lot of these people were as passionate in 2010 and 2014 as they claim to be now, Republicans wouldn’t control Congress; the Affordable Care Act would have been a true universal health care law; the minimum wage would be raised; we would have raised taxes on the rich even more than we were able to; we’d be much further along combating climate change; and immigration reform would have been passed years ago.

Again, I’m not talking about all Sanders supporters. I know, without a doubt, that most of them are every bit as passionate about defeating Republicans as I am. And I’m sure there’s a chunk of pro-Hillary folks who didn’t vote in those midterm elections, either. But you’re not seeing much rhetoric from Clinton supporters expressing their belief that they would rather see Trump win than Bernie. While I’m sure there are a few out there saying that, most Clinton supporters (and I know a lot of them) seem to agree that defeating Republicans this November is the top priority.

And can we stop pretending like 2016 is something unique? In 2008, President Obama was actually more popular than Sanders is now, backed by the “youth vote” and was the little known senator who took on the overwhelming favorite. The voter turnout then, with a smaller population, was higher than it’s been during this primary — with the exact same “rigged” primary rules. The only difference is, he won.

Like I’ve pointed out before, because he wasn’t able to fulfill some of the unrealistic expectations of these ideologues, they turned on him — just like they would turn on Bernie Sanders once they realized practically nothing he ran on was ever going to make it through Congress. That’s the downside to being supported by a good chunk of people who don’t follow government all that much. After the election, because they don’t know how Congress works, they often tend to think that a president has much more power than they really do and get angry when a lot of these bold promises made during these campaigns never come true.

However, that’s an issue that’s found on both the left and the right.

So, what’s the “moral” of this story?

I would say, if there is one, it’s that unless you’re out there fighting nearly every day, every year and every election to bring about the change you claim to want to bring, you probably shouldn’t go around judging and attacking some of those who do simply because they have a different opinion than you do. I still don’t get what’s “progressive” and “open-minded” about attacking fellow liberals and progressives who simply disagree with you on a handful of things. Again, that’s how tea party conservatives act — I thought “liberals” were better than that?

What happens this election is anyone’s guess, but my plan hasn’t changed a bit. From the beginning my goal has always been to fight for Democrats and do my best to make sure Republicans lose as many elections as possible — and that’s not going to change. That’s not to say the Democratic party is perfect by any means, but it’s a hell of a lot more sane than today’s Republican party. Real progressive change on many issues will only come once enough Republicans are removed from power all across the country.

I just hope once the primary is over and emotions settle that enough people on the left realize how dangerous it is to let someone like Donald Trump win the presidency, and we all unite together to make damn sure that doesn’t happen and Democrats reclaim some power back in Congress.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments