Why “Bernie or Bust” is Doing a Great Disservice to Sanders’ Legacy

It’s undeniable that Bernie Sanders has made a massive impact on the Democratic party this last year. Even though it’s very unlikely his goal of becoming the party’s nominee is going to happen, just based on the success of his campaign alone he’s brought positive changes to the party as a whole. Not only that, but win or lose, he’s made a profound impact on Hillary Clinton that will make her a better candidate this November.

That being said, there’s a chunk of Sanders supporters who are often referred to as “Bernie or bust.” These are people who’ve either declared that they’ll write his name in on election day, won’t vote at all or some have even said they’ll vote for Donald Trump. However, I believe you lose all right to call yourself “liberal” or “progressive” if you would even entertain the thought of voting for someone who’s called for banning all Muslims; wants to overturn Roe v. Wade; calls women pigs; wants to rip apart millions of families; and has been embraced by white supremacist groups.

While I’m sure many of these folks aren’t Democrats, progressives or liberals – some of them are. Though I’ll admit, it’s been a rather interesting few months trying to decipher who’s a legitimate Sanders supporter and who’s just “supporting” him because they’re a “troll” trying to take down Hillary Clinton.

However, what “Bernie or bust” could eventually lead to is everything Sanders has accomplished this last year (and even throughout his entire career in Congress) being undone and tarnished. If Democrats lose the White House in November in a way where the numbers indicate this “Bernie or bust” crowd ultimately benefitted Republicans, all history will remember Bernie Sanders as is the candidate who helped elect Donald Trump.

Doubt me?

Tell me, how does history view Ralph Nader? You know, the candidate who ultimately did nothing but help George W. Bush get elected in 2000 – the president who then went on to wreck this country over the next eight years. While Florida gets most of the attention, New Hampshire was actually the state that gave Bush the White House. In 2000, Al Gore lost New Hampshire by just over 7,000 votes. How many did Nader get? Around 22,000. Had Gore won New Hampshire’s 4 electoral votes, the final results would have been Gore 270 vs. Bush 267.

Now, you tell me, which option is worse:

  • The “not-quite-liberal-enough” Al Gore who has since become a huge advocate for combating climate change? – or –
  • George W. Bush, who went on to start two wars, nearly doubled our national debt and led this country to the worst economic crash since the Great Depression?

Almost nobody looks at Nader as some sort of revolutionary who changed anything – not even close. History will forever look back upon him during the 2000 election as the third-party candidate who did just enough to hurt Gore, which opened the door for one of the worst presidents in our nation’s history to win the presidency.

Well, in 2016, we could see that same sort of scenario play out. And if it does, everything Bernie Sanders has tried to do this election will be undone almost instantly.

Putting aside all the campaign rhetoric, the number one goal Sanders has stated throughout his entire campaign is, no matter what happens, we cannot allow Republicans to win this November. He’s also made it clear that he’ll proudly support Clinton this November if she ultimately defeats him for the nomination.

The truth is, he could have run as a true third-party candidate but he knew doing so would do nothing but hand Republicans the White House in a landslide. So, writing him in as a third-party candidate is literally someone saying “I don’t care what he wanted – I’m doing it my way.” Everyone has the right to do that if they so choose, but it goes against Sanders’ primary goal of making sure Republicans don’t win the presidency.

So it’s a bit confusing to say you respect, admire and trust Bernie Sanders – then instantly do the very thing he has said repeatedly he doesn’t want to see happen: Help Republicans win the White House.

Even avid Sanders supporter Bill Maher has said that the “Bernie or bust” people are going to be the “death of liberals.”

I’ve said for a while now, win or lose, Sanders has changed everything. He’s pushed Clinton to the left and made the entire Democratic party rethink its party’s positions. Even if Clinton does become our next president, because of the undeniable impact Sanders has had on her, some of his ideas will be represented in her administration. Not only that, but his stature in the Senate has grown immensely due to the exposure he’s gotten from his campaign.

But none of that’s going to matter if the “Bernie or bust” folks get their way. If they do, the only thing Sanders will be remembered as is the candidate who weakened Hillary Clinton during the 2016 primary and built a movement that ultimately did nothing but help elect Donald Trump to the White House.

And if that happens, Bernie Sanders won’t be remembered as the revolutionary who helped change nearly everything within the Democratic party – which is the legacy he has now and deserves – he’ll be remembered as 2016’s Ralph Nader.

Don’t take this as me trying to “guilt” Sanders voters into supporting Clinton – though I’m sure that’s what some reading this will accuse me of trying to do. People are free to do whatever they like. All I’m outlining here is a reality that will happen if Trump wins and it’s determined that this “Bernie or bust” movement helped him get the victory. Reject that if you want, tell me I’m full of it and nothing but a “shill for Hillary” (because I’m sure that’s coming – just go read the comment section), but I’m telling you all that’s exactly how history will look back on 2016 and Bernie Sanders if these “Bernie or bust” folks get their way.

It would be a damn disgrace to throw away everything Bernie Sanders has fought for this year and throughout his career. No matter what he’s said or done throughout the campaign, Sanders has said repeatedly that his number one goal is to make damn sure the Republican party doesn’t win the White House.

But if you don’t believe me, here’s a direct quote from Bernie Sanders himself:

“I think Hillary Clinton and I agree on this, that we will do everything we can to make sure that a Republican does not win the White House, and I will knock my brains out. I will work seven days a week to make sure that that does not happen if I am the nominee and if I am not the nominee. That’s what I will do.” (Emphasis added by me)

Again, those are his words, not mine.

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

  • Brian

    What’s disgraceful is that you’re asking Bernie supporters to give up and vote for one of the most corrupt, scandal-ridden, dishonest politicians in history. Hillary Clinton is a puppet for Soros and the elite and a proven liar. It’s not like her record for dishonesty and corruption is something vague and hard to prove. It’s laid bare for you all to look at. You’ll vote for her just because she parotted Sanders on the campaign trail.
    Whatever. President Trump is better than another eight years of a Clinton shill.

    • Priscilla Zink

      Sources, please. Right wing talk shows? “forward-to-everyone-in-your-address-book” gossip, Donald Trump’s simple-minded blatherings? EXACTLY where has it “been laid bare for you all to look at”? When you toss unsupported remarks like these into a thread you certainly preclude any kind of productive dialogue. Or was that your purpose?Are you afraid to go head to head on with anyone on the libelous things you say?

  • Gary Dexter

    Don’t forget, it was the Florida Supreme Court that handed the election to Bush. It was stolen from the people!

  • Brenda S.

    What a bunch of crap. Almost every poll shows Bernie would beat drumpf by double digits, whereas shillery’s would barely beat him by as little as 2%. She won KY by one-half of one percent. Are you willing to take that chance in an open, national election? #NeverHillary #VetsForBernie

    • Jet Maier

      And all political wonks will tell you that General election polls this far out are meaningless, especially when the polls on the Dem Primary are overwhelmingly in Clinton’s favor. Whatever your personal fantasy, Bernie isn’t going to win the Presidency as a write in.

  • g bum

    bernie-or-bust idiots don’t follow politics enough. They JUST started reading the news. They don’t realize that letting trump wins means a republican senate, house, white house, and of course, several new radical republican supreme court justices. That means, the republicans can do whatever they want.

    If these morons followed any politics before bernie, they would see that the GOP has radicalized, and in all fully-GOP-controlled states, the GOP has passed laws to allow for discrimination, redrew district lines and passed voter suppression laws to affect democrats and minorities, closed down women’s clinics, stripped the minimum wage, etc. With a republican-controlled Senate and House, the GOP has done nothing but try to take away healthcare, kill marriage equality, and successfully took out voters rights by gutting the Voting Rights Act.

    When Bush came into office, the republicans reversed environmental protections in the US, passed ridiculous tax cuts for the rich, and since then, has attacked social benefits.

    The only thing that slowed this shit down? OBAMA–a democrat in the WH. His executive orders and veto power has been the only weapons against the GOP onslaught.

    So these bernie or bust morons want to bash hillary, vilify her, elect Trump, so we can have a a republican controlled congress and WH and supreme court.

    Might I add, the next gop president will put in several… SEVERAL republican justices during his term. That means, young, radical, insanely evil GOP justices. That means, the Senate and House will pass all sorts of laws to destroy healthcare, women’s rights, give tax cuts to the rich, kill the minimum wage, reverse marriage equality, and gut all environmental protections that remain, give more free breaks to the banks and corporations through subsidies while gutting federal funding to major social programs, like social security… and GUESS WHAT ELSE… they’ll also pass new laws to restrict voting rights on a federal level. They’ve been doing all of this on state levels, and now with the help of BERNIE OR BUST, they can do it all on a national level. AND WHAT’S TO STOP THEM? They will have a supreme court with a radically conservative majority, for the next 30 years.

    What does that mean? Your votes won’t even matter. The elections will all be rewritten so that liberals have to wait 8 hours in line to vote, no more mail-in-votes, no more early voting… just… in person voting and wait 8 hours in line. Florida anyone? And the Supreme Court will just say, sure, go for it.

    And what? For not voting for hillary, cuz you believe voting for hillary is selling out,… great…

    You GET TO KEEP YOUR PRIDE! Cuz lemme tell you morons what… that’s all you’ll have. YOUR PRIDE. And you know what? We won’t have equality, civil rights, fair pay, fair wages, fair elections, fair money. cuz of you. for 30 years.

    The entire progressive movement, the work that MLK and others alike had done for us, will have been reversed. The hard fought battles that Bernie and Elizabeth Warren sweated out for us, will be reversed. I guarantee it.

    The GOP is radicalized and insane. They’ve been doing it on state levels and tried on national levels. the WH is the only thing standing in their way.

    You will have your pride, but after this onslaught, you won’t even have time to be political. You’ll be busy trying to pay for healthcare. You’ll be too busy making a few bucks when there’s no more minimum wage. You’ll be too busy living the life of the oppressed with no rights.

    If you followed any politics, you’d know this isn’t even an assumption. The progressives have been winning the culture war since obamacare and marriage equality. And the conservatives have been scrambling and radicalizing even more just to counter the progressive movement.

    Elect trump, and there won’t be any bernie movement left. You’ll have your pride still.

    at least with HIllary, a democrat, she won’t take away your social security. She won’t take away your minimum wages. She won’t take away your healthcare. You’ll still have the bernie movement and even stronger than before. She won’t take away all the wonderful things democrats have fought hard for. You guys are stupid to think she is just like a republican.

    I’ll tell you this… The republicans WILL take all that shit away. They’ve been trying and Obama just stood in the way the whole time. You guys are just spoiled and too comfortable. Wait till you see what this country is like under radical conservative rule, where they have full power and authority to tip the election scales so democrats never win again. hey, they’ve been doing that in gop-controlled states already. And that’s how they got such huge majorities in the house and senate. have fun. you’ll still have your pride. But you won’t have a movement. So you tell me, how is bernie or bust in any way principles or logical????