I’ve had an epiphany of sorts following one of the best presidential debates I’ve ever watched on February 4, 2016. While Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders went back and forth over what is or isn’t “progressive,” it hit me that there’s actually only one group of people who call themselves “progressives” who really shouldn’t: Anyone who has pledged to not support whoever wins the Democratic nomination because they didn’t get “their way.”
I’m sorry, but with:
- Health care for millions of Americans at risk.
- Women’s rights under attack.
- War with Iran all but a certainty if Republicans win the White House.
- All the progress we’ve made to combat climate change on the cusp of being undone.
- Gay rights and same-sex marriage potentially being set back years, if not decades.
- The power in the Supreme Court for the next 20-30 years up for grabs.
If you want to sit out this next election because you’d rather throw a hissy fit because your candidate didn’t win – you can’t call yourself a progressive, a liberal or a Democrat. In fact, just go ahead and call yourself an absentee Republican. Because when you don’t vote for the Democratic nominee (especially when it’s either going to be Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton), you’re not making a statement, you’re giving Republicans want they want. Your lack of support is as good as supporting whatever clown Republicans ultimately nominate.
As someone who supports Clinton, but also likes Sanders, this infantile mindset of “I have to bash one to support the other” is ridiculous.
If you like Hillary Clinton more than Bernie Sanders, that’s great. If you like Bernie Sanders more than you do Hillary Clinton, that’s great, too. It is possible, at least it should be in the minds of adults, to like both candidates. Just because you would rather see Sanders win the nomination doesn’t mean you can’t also like Clinton, or vice versa.
It’s absurd how many supposed “progressives” have taken up right-wing talking points against both candidates. How is it remotely progressive to use Fox News propaganda to bash Clinton’s trustworthiness or Sanders for being a democratic socialist?
Is it really progressive to be so simple-minded that you can’t fathom the reality that Democrats have two great candidates who we should all be proud to support in November? Because that’s the truth.
Here’s a non-political example of what I mean: I like chicken more than I like beef. That doesn’t mean I don’t like beef, it just means I prefer chicken. But I like both.
See how that works? It’s not really that complicated, is it? For some reason in politics people act as if someone can’t have a preference toward one issue or politician while still supporting a multitude of issues or politicians.
And here’s the truth: Despite what some people think, there’s not much difference between the policies of Clinton and Sanders. Ultimately, whether some in the Clinton or Sanders camps want to admit it, both candidates have about the same goals. It just so happens that in some instances they have different philosophies as to how those goals should be accomplished.
When you think about the growing hostility between Clinton and Sanders supporters, it’s really kind of stupid. Americans all over the country battling with one another over two candidates who aren’t nearly as different as their supporters seem to think that they are. In fact, when Clinton and Sanders served together in the Senate, they voted on the same side of the issues 93 percent of the time.
Though let me also be clear, I do disagree with Sanders when he tries to define what makes a real “progressive” in his own terms. The greatness of progressivism is that it doesn’t really have a definition more so than the desire for progress. The strength of the left has always been diversity. If we start labeling ourselves how conservatives label themselves (K-Street, tea party, RINO) then we’re acting every bit as close minded and judgmental as they do. No one, not Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, has a patent on defining what is or isn’t progressive. The backbone of progressivism is our diversity of ideas. That we are driven by facts, not a blind devotion to ideology like we seen with so many conservatives.
That being said, while I’m not here to define “progressive,” I do think it’s fair to say that anyone who believes Republicans winning in November is a better alternative than Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders being our next president has lost all right to ever be called a progressive. When someone says something like that, what they’re telling me is that they’re fine with:
- Millions of people losing health care.
- The Supreme Court being loaded with conservative justices.
- Women’s rights being heavily attacked for the next four years.
- Our progress toward climate change being undone.
- Gay rights being set back years if not decades.
- Bigotry representing this country until at least 2020.
All because they would rather throw a hissy fit because they didn’t get their way. Because if Republicans do win in November, it won’t be because they won – it will be because of these so-called “progressives” who decided they would rather stay home than vote against the GOP and their continued attempts to undo all the progress real progressives have made over the last few years.
And if you’re okay with Republicans doing just that – which will happen if the GOP retakes the White House this November – then you’re damn sure not a progressive.
If there are two hashtags real progressives should support before #ImWithHer or #FeelTheBern – it’s #VoteBlueNoMatterWho and #Democrats2016. We need to make sure we’re doing everything in our power to not only keep the White House, but gain back at least some power in Congress. It’s the only way anything progressives support will be protected and/or advanced further.
As Senator Sanders said during the most recent Democratic debate, “On our worst days, we are a hundred times better than any Republican candidate.” I couldn’t agree more.