A Message to the Majority of Bernie Sanders Supporters Who I Know are Great, Rational People

I’ll be the first to admit, I have been critical of Bernie Sanders and his supporters during the Democratic primary. Most of my attention has really been focused on the irrational nature of a particular group of Sanders supporters and a few of the hypocrisies I saw over the last few weeks from the candidate himself. Unfortunately for Sanders and his supporters, a large part of his campaign has been tarnished by this rather rabid, sometimes hostile, “Bernie or bust” crowd. They’ll never admit it publicly, but I’ve met and talked to more than a few moderate Democrats who were actually Sanders supporters, but ended up voting for Hillary Clinton because of the radical behavior of the group of Bernie folks I’ve come to call “tea party liberals.”

But I don’t want to talk to those people right now; I’m done trying to reason with people who are unreasonable. History will look back on them the same way we look back on those who backed Ralph Nader in 2000, giving us eight years of the nightmare known as George W. Bush. You know, back in 2000 when Al Gore just wasn’t “liberal” or “exciting” enough for some.

Meanwhile, Gore went on to become a leading advocate for climate change while Bush damn near destroyed this country.

Moving on.

The people I want to address right now are the vast majority of passionate, dedicated but rational Bernie Sanders supporters who comprise the 80-85 percent of the people backing him.

First, to you all, let me apologize as someone who will fully admit I’ve been more than a little harsh at times when discussing Bernie. The truth is, campaigns are emotional battles that wear just about everyone down. Even as someone who prides myself on not getting too emotional about much of anything, I found myself being more sarcastic and blunt than I would have liked to have been at times when my emotion got the best of me. But I’m sure the same thing has happened to many of you.

Passion makes campaigns great, but it’s also what makes them contentious and combative. Each “side” picks their candidate like fans supporting one of their favorite sports teams. Except in presidential campaigns, the “game” lasts for months — or over a year as was the case with the race between Clinton and Sanders.

In life, the longer we try or fight for something, often the harder it is to let go when it doesn’t go our way. Hell, that’s the reason why a lot of people don’t take risks in the first place, a fear of failure. As someone who does this nearly every day of my life, I lose battles all the time. Just look at this article I wrote after the 2014 midterms and you can tell by reading it how frustrated I was by how badly Democrats performed that night.

The truth is, I’m not a Hillary Clinton “shill” or “fanboy” and I damn sure am not getting paid by her campaign to write anything. Trust me, I would love to be paid more than what I am for doing what I do. I support her because she’s not nearly the “monster” many have made her out to be and I understand that Republicans have spent over two decades and hundreds of millions of dollars trying to slander her and her husband. Does she have a lot of “scandals” that follow her around? Sure, she does. Anyone who’s had that amount of money spent trying to bring them down would as well.

But at the end of the day, she’s never been arrested or convicted of anything, and despite over 20 years of relentless attacks she’s managed to become one of the most accomplished women in U.S. political history. As First Lady, she redefined what the role of a president’s wife was. She then went on to become not only the first wife of a president elected to public office, but the first female senator in New York history. Now she’s the first female candidate for a major U.S. political party this country has ever had. And in a few months, she might very well become our nation’s first female president.

I supported her for a litany of reasons I won’t get into now (I’m working on another one of those articles), but it never meant that I disliked Bernie Sanders. As I’ve said repeatedly, for months, I liked both candidates — I simply preferred one over the other. If Sanders had won the nomination, I would have stood proudly and fought for him just as I plan to fight for Hillary Clinton.

Because the truth is, this election isn’t about Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

This election is about protecting and preserving everything that progressives have been fighting for over the last few decades, as we move toward further progress. Unlike any election we’ve had in the past, so much is on the line right now. If we elected a “President Donald Trump” in November, it’s literally going to set progressives back decades to such a point that I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to get back what we’ll lose — at least not in many of our lifetimes.

The biggest issue being the Supreme Court. With one spot open, and another three Justices possibly retiring within the next 4-8 years, our next president could very well be the person who chooses up to four Justices. This means someone like Trump could ultimately stack the Supreme Court with seven right-wingers. Two of the three who might be retiring soon, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, are two of the four current “liberal” Justices and Anthony Kennedy is the most moderate “conservative” on the bench. Right now Ginsburg is 83, Breyer is 77 and Kennedy is just about to turn 80.

If the Supreme Court does end up loaded with possibly seven right-wing Justices picked by someone like Donald Trump, kiss abortion rights, gay rights, voting rights, same-sex marriage, religious freedom, any hope for campaign finance reform and a whole host of other issues down the drain. They’ll all be undone and the court will sit in conservative control for the next 25-30 years.

That’s what I mean when I say this election isn’t about Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. At its core, it’s really about protecting what we already have while pushing for whatever further progress we can achieve. Sure, I would love to push forward with a ton of amazing new ideas to bring true transformative change to this country, but change doesn’t happen quickly, it takes time. Right now, with Congress firmly in Republicans hands and no guarantee Democrats will take it back this November, so much of what we’ve fought for over the last few decades is legitimately on the chopping block.

This election is about protecting:

  • Gay rights
  • The minimum wage
  • Social Security
  • Same-sex marriage
  • Our climate
  • Women’s rights
  • Voting rights
  • Abortion rights
  • Immigrants
  • Social Security and Medicare
  • The Affordable Care Act
  • True religious freedom
  • Transgender Americans
  • The Supreme Court

The list goes on and on.

Those are just the basics, too. I’m not even getting into the absurd things Trump has promised to do like spread nuclear weapons to more nations, building his moronic wall, ban Muslims or rip apart families as he deports 12 million people. What liberals will lose if Trump is elected would be catastrophic; what he would do would be absolutely terrifying.

And no matter what anyone thinks about either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, even on their worst day, they’re not going to upend and undo everything I just listed — while any Republican elected will. Is Sanders more liberal than Hillary? Yes, he is. But this nonsense that she’s not a progressive is just that, nonsense. Some of the most liberal members of Congress, some even as liberal as Bernie, have endorsed and defended her for her entire campaign. Despite what many seem to think, she has a total of one “pro-Wall Street” vote in eight years as senator, she was ranked the 11th most liberal when she served, and her and Sanders voted on the same side of the issues 93 percent of the time.

As FiveThirtyEight.com wrote after analyzing her record: Hillary Clinton Was a Liberal. Hillary Clinton is a Liberal.

I know many of you Sanders supporters are still frustrated with the fact that he lost. Like I said, it’s human nature to go through a withdrawal of sorts when you take an emotional rollercoaster that doesn’t end how you wanted it to.

My goal is to see to it that we all come together to work with one another and save this country from the Republican party, at all levels of government across the nation. The real enemy is not Hillary Clinton, the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (though she is awful) or Clinton supporters — it’s Republicans.

And I do truly hope that once everything calms down and the emotions fade, we can all fight together against the party that’s trying to tear this country apart.

Hit me up on Twitter or Facebook and let me know if you agree.

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.


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