Why #BernorBust is my only option.
Early in 2015, many major news outlets had started to announce an inevitable truth. Hillary Clinton will be running for President of the United States in 2016. Hardly a surprise, considering she conveniently stepped down from her Secretary of State job just in time to bypass some campaign finance rules. Raising money from private interest groups is a major conflict of interest, and in certain cases illegal if you are working as a public servant, but because HRC had stepped down, these ethical violations technically did not apply. This puts her in the category of a ‘Revolving Door’ politician who moves between working for the public & private sector. This does not make her particularly unique, as it is a common problem with high level government employees, however this institutionalized corruption is precisely the problem.
“If not her then, who?” was the narrative that the ‘liberal’ media was pushing here, an effective technique that immediately rallied establish Democrats around a candidate who had not even announced her candidacy yet, as she was still busy funneling millions of dollars between The Clinton Foundation, her Super PACs, and her public speaking fees. The title of that narrative would suggest that the media was really trying to start a conversation about our feasible options for a Democratic Nominee, but the answer had been poised from the start. No one was going to be given a real consideration. The Media had their candidate, and the Democratic National Committee quickly followed suit. On April 12th 2015, her presidency was announced, and the inauguration ceremony was all but set to begin.
Little over 2 weeks later, Senator Bernie Sanders, former beloved mayor of Burlington, Vermont duct taped a BERNIE 2016 banner behind a podium, called together a small press conference, and announced his challenge to Clinton. A woman who had amassed limitless campaign funds, all of the press exposure needed to make her a household name, the allegiance of the DNC’s Chair, and 440 Superdelegates.
"I've run outside of the two-party system, defeating Democrats and Republicans, taking on big-money candidates and, you know, I think the message that has resonated in Vermont is a message that can resonate all over this country. People should not underestimate me."
Bernie told the Associated Press.
His candidacy was given a lukewarm welcome by the DNC, and all major news outlets immediately ignored or mocked the possibility of a self-declared socialist democrat winning a democratic nomination. However, something about this 74 year old man with comically unruly hair, who has plenty of better things to do with his retirement years than put himself through a political meat grinder, struck me a genuinely authentic. His record in Congress and the Senate is something to admire, never backing down from protecting his constituents. He is credited for establishing an affordable housing model that is still used in Burlington during his time as mayor. His foreign policy has been tested and proven, as there are countless videos of him fighting trade agreements and congressional war-mongering that later proved to be disastrous for our country. His record on LGBT rights has been consistently on the side of the oppressed, a stark contrast to Hillary Clinton, and even President Obama, who have changed their views over time.
This was the election year where we were supposed to be fired up about gender politics.
The first Woman president was supposed to be our Big Deal of 2016, and before Bernie, I was almost content with that. I had joked about making a “Hill Dog” back patch in anticipation of an election year punk vest. This was the year where no one else was supposed to get in the race. Martin O Malley tried and quickly failed to sway the Democratic base, and dropped out of the race early on. Clinton supporters were temporarily okay with it being a 2 person race, for the sake of sustaining an image of free & fair elections, and to woo the much more liberal independents they desperately need to win a General Election.
They did not count on Bernie Sanders taking himself seriously.
With a remarkable political career that boasts no negative campaign ads, close ties to lobbyists, or super PACs, Sanders distanced himself from the Clinton political machine and openly decried the corruption and voter suppression that Hillary and the DNC were poised to commit throughout the primaries. This thinly veiled criticism exposed HRC and the DNC chair of being the type of people using politics to further their personal wealth. This characterization was not helped by Debbie Wasserman Shultz, DNC chair. This primary season has been rife with technical, unethical, and downright illegal activity, all perpetuated by those in charge of running our elections. The DNC only scheduled 6 democratic debates (far less than the 2008 primaries), competitive states that polled well for Sanders experienced mass voter purges, had closed primaries where independents were not allowed to vote (independents are the largest voting bloc of all), ballots were found in dumpsters, some electronic voting machines only allowed a Clinton vote, illegal motions passed at the Nevada convention, 31 counties in Kentucky reported voter fraud, Baltimore’s primary was decertified, and in a country where a 2% discrepancy in exit polling in a General Election is suspicious and would justify a recount, exit polling in Clinton-won states were sometimes up to 12% off from officially declared voter numbers. All remaining primary states will no longer have exit polling, to defuse any further claims of voter fraud.
As an active volunteer for the Sanders campaign, this doesn’t just disenfranchise me, it enrages me. This collective anger from Bernie supporters has manifested in the #BernorBust movement. It is not an organized movement with a clear leader or mission, so I cannot speak for us all. However what I can gather is that we all share the sentiment that if Clinton is given the nomination through means of fraud and oppression, she will not be our choice in November. Many of us will write someone else in. Bernie would be the symbolic choice but his refusal to run independently have many of us considering Jill Stein of the Green Party. Many #BernorBust members plan to change their party preference from Democrat to Independent after the primary, sending a message to the DNC that they have destroyed the possibility for party loyalty.The #BernorBust movement is also a likely cause of Hillary’s poll numbers plummeting recently, in some polls even losing to Trump.
The Clinton campaign actively ignores all of these accusations, and many establishment Democrats have considered this is “much ado about nothing”. This is the year we are supposed to be afraid of Trump. The politics of fear pushed us into Iraq, and we willfully ignored Wall Street corruption until it was too late. If we allow fear to govern our choices, we will always be short sighted in our goals and survival will seem like a victory, progress will never come.
The path to victory is narrow, but it was Never easy to begin with. The DNC is eagerly betting that fear of Trump will keep voters from challenging Clinton, and being too upset about a rigged primary. The silver lining is that where the is massive voter turnout, Clinton has failed. The time of establishment politics is officially over, and as an avid Sanders supporter I say to my friends and colleagues, Do Not Give Up.