Why Hillary Clinton Is Not Entitled to Bernie Sanders’ Supporters — by Dominica R. Convertino: Graduate of the University of Michigan, Dearborn, with a degree in Political Science and Pre-Law, and minors in Philosophy and Women and Gender Studies.
Throughout the last few weeks, mainstream media outlets and political pundits alike have incessantly derided the many supporters of Bernie Sanders who claim that they will not be voting for Hillary Clinton in November, should she win the Democratic nomination. Pundits argue that if they effectively fail to rally behind Hillary, Bernie’s supporters will be to blame in November if Donald Trump is subsequently elected. Here is why the pundits are definitively wrong, and why this rhetoric is not only misleading, but incredibly offensive to the democratic process:
First, let me preface this argument by pointing out that this entire debate over whether or not Bernie’s supporters should throw their weight behind Clinton in the general election is (intentionally) misleading, as it maintains an underlying assumption that Hillary Clinton is the inevitable Democratic nominee; an assumption that we have been force-fed for years by both the media and operatives of the Democratic Party. Despite the incredible efforts to push this narrative, millions of Americans continue to outright-reject the “inevitability” of Hillary Clinton, and have been doing so long before Bernie Sanders (who is undoubtedly an inspiring alternative to Clinton) stepped into the race. By focusing on whether or not the supporters of Bernie Sanders would be willing to vote for Hillary Clinton as a potential-nominee not only sets the stage for the media to act as if the primary race has somehow been decided, but it forces progressive figures (who otherwise wholeheartedly support Bernie Sanders in the primary) to needlessly pledge their support to Hillary Clinton for the general election, effectively shifting the narrative.
Rather than falling victim to this purposefully-deceptive framing that has been perpetuated by both the media and the Clinton campaign, voters must remember: we are not currently in a general election; we are in a primary election. Additionally, we are not currently deciding between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump; we are currently deciding between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. So, it raises the question: why would any rational political observer believe that Bernie’s supporters should simultaneously pledge their hypothetical, future-support to the candidate who they are clearly trying to prevent?
Second, it is fallacious to assume that those who are claiming “Bernie or Bust” (i.e. those who refuse to rally behind Clinton if Bernie is not the nominee) are staunch Democrats to begin with. It is even more fallacious to believe that Hillary Clinton is somehow entitled to the support of Bernie’s voters, just by her very nature of running for President as a Democrat. Bernie is posing such a significant threat to Clinton and the Democratic Party establishment because of the fact that he is able to effectively accomplish something that Hillary Clinton has proven time and time again that she cannot: expanding the base of the Democratic Party. Throughout the last few months, it has become increasingly more clear that Bernie Sanders is succeeding precisely because he is bringing in new voters to the Democratic Party’s primary elections, including (but certainly not limited to) first-time voters, Independents, moderate Republicans, Civil Libertarians, Green Party voters, and the politically disenfranchised. It is arguable that these Bernie supporters, who by many accounts do not consider themselves to be bogged down by a staunch alignment to our two-party system (a trend that is becoming increasingly-popular amongst Americans) would not have been Clinton supporters in the first place. In fact, we now know that many of Bernie’s supporters would have instead opted out of voting in their state’s primary elections, had it not been for his presence in the race, which explains the record-breaking voter-turnout in many of the primary elections won by Bernie thus far, and the devastatingly low voter-turnout in the states won by Hillary.
Third, to say that Bernie’s supporters have an obligation to vote for Hillary Clinton in a general election assumes that the two candidates are advocating for the same things, which is objectively false. While Hillary has made it clear that the objective of her potential presidency would be to maintain already-existing policies, she has also made it clear that she is unwilling to fight for significant change, in order to avoid a “contentious debate” with her Republican counterparts. Hillary Clinton, despite all of her recent efforts to emulate Bernie Sanders’ unwavering record of advocating for the people, cannot get past the fact that she is, in many ways, the poster child for the corrupt system which Bernie is arguing to reform. In recent years, the American people have caught on to the fact that it is no longer just the Republican Party that participates in a corrupt political and financial system, but that establishment, corporate-funded Democrats like Hillary Clinton and the head of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, are in many ways just as culpable in terms of perpetuating the existing-system of political corruption.
Lastly, rather than arguing for Bernie’s wide-range of political supporters to compromise on the most fundamental, uniting idea that they stand for in this election (changing the corrupt political/campaign finance system that plagues this nation — and all of the subsequent issues that occur precisely because of that corrupt system) by asking them to pledge support to Hillary Clinton, perhaps we should instead flip the script and ask Hillary Clinton supporters to grant their support to arguably the best Democratic candidate in modern political history, Bernie Sanders. Out of all of the candidates on both sides in this election, Bernie Sanders is unequivocally considered the most liked, the most electable, the most ideologically-consistent, and the biggest advocate for the interests of the American people. So, perhaps we should ask ourselves: why is the Democratic Party trying so hard to elect a candidate who the American people have so consistently and so resoundingly rejected, at the expense of a Democratic candidate who the people so desperately want? If the Democratic party establishment is unwilling to listen to the will of their voters, then they deserve the uncertainty that a Clinton nomination brings, for Hillary Clinton’s immeasurable weaknesses as a presidential candidate are not the fault of Bernie Sanders’ supporters, but her own.
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