Are you a Bernie Sanders supporter? Do you feel completely dejected now that the primary season is over? As we sit in the waning hours of the Republican National Convention, and only days away from the Democratic National Convention, it is clear that we are faced with yet another giant douche/turd sandwich face-off this November. As much as we rallied, voted, and told our parents and grandparents about this lovable 74-year-old Brooklynite who wanted to change the way we view the system, it was not enough. We fell short of the 2,383 delegates needed for nomination. Partly, this was on us as a generation. We are often all talk and no action and our failure to register in time for our states’ respective primaries is evidence enough for us. Partly, this was on the absurdist notion that 716 ‘superdelegate’ votes can dispel popular sentiment and choose a candidate for us. At the end of the day, Hillary Clinton is the soon-to-be-official nominee for the Democratic Party. With Donald Trump firmly at the helm of the Republican party, the stage is set.
Before I truly begin here, let me say that I have written about Donald Trump in the past. In that post, I lay out why a Trump presidency is actually the ‘lesser of two evils’. I stand by much of what I said. I believe that when weighing the ramifications of a Trump presidency vs. a Clinton presidency, a Trump presidency would be better for progressive, liberal values in that Trump would be an awful president, rallying progressives in the next election cycle. This might be bullshit. It probably is. But I genuinely do not believe in Hillary Clinton. I do not believe that she will do any more than Barack Obama did for the American people.
Since it became clear that Trump would be the nominee for the Republican party, Hillary Clinton and the DNC has relied heavily on this notion that Trump is the worst major candidate for president in U.S. history. He may very well be. He plays to the most ignorant, uneducated, bigoted segment of our voting population. He uses vitriol better than any Jerry Falwell-esque preacher ever could. He is extremely unqualified for office and contradicts himself in every other speech or interview he gives. And with all this, it would only make sense that the opposing candidate would jump on this. Social media hashtags such as #NoTrump or #NeverTrump have emerged to rally the troops to Hillary. I won’t attribute these to the Clinton campaign because I honestly do not know where they came from. With that said, Clinton supporters have by and large kept them alive for months.
Hillary Clinton has built her campaign around this. She and her staffers have worked harder to disqualify Donald Trump for the presidency than they have to qualify Hillary Clinton. In June 2016, she gave a speech comparing her views on foreign policy to that of Donald Trump. Reading the transcript, Clinton speaks more about Donald Trump than she does herself. She has been doing this for months before reaching the delegate total for the nomination. Ignoring the other controversies surrounding her, Hillary Clinton has managed to run a campaign mostly based on the lack of qualifications of her opponent, rather than her own merit. And as for the part of her campaign that actually lays out her views and policy, it is microcosmic of her political career — it is largely based on public sentiment instead of gumption.
Hillary Clinton has rarely taken the progressive approach to issues. She only began supporting LGBT issues when it became popular to do so. After initially supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal hailing it as the ‘gold standard’, Clinton changed her opinion based on the public response to it. These shifts coupled with her lack of truly progressive views should be a red-flag to the horde of Bernie supporters now being called to vote for Hillary. And that call to vote for Hillary is being made mostly because #NoTrump.
As a Bernie supporter, I reject this notion. As a Bernie supporter, I found hope in a man who has challenged the status quo for his entire political life. Since announcing his intent to run for president, Bernie Sanders has opened the eyes of an entire generation to the real issues that plague our country and the forces that continue to ensure its hold. Bernie started a political revolution on the basis of the inequalities that exist in America; a subject that is taboo on the grand stage. We supported Bernie because Bernie supported us — minorities, students, the elderly, the lower and middle classes. Bernie didn’t coddle the ‘job creators’ or vilify our trade partners. He shifted the spotlight from the usual wedge issues and onto the issues which could unite us.
For these reasons, I find it abhorrent that anyone who supported Bernie Sanders and his political revolution could vote for Hillary Clinton for any reason, let alone #NoTrump. His endorsement of Clinton was disappointing to say the least. For someone who always identified as more of a socialist than a mainstream Democrat to stand, rank-and-file with a moderate Clinton is a tough pill to swallow. For someone who took his label as a ‘fringe’ candidate and ran with it, only to support Clinton because — again — #NoTrump, makes me feel like this was all for naught. And I cannot accept that. And if you are a Bernie supporter, neither should you.
You might have real reasons for voting for Hillary Clinton, to which I say, vote for her. But if you are thinking about casting your ballot for her simply because she is the ‘lesser of two evils’, please consider this: there are other options. You probably know where I’m going with this; third-party candidates. You are damn right. “But third-party candidates aren’t viable for office”. If we continue to not vote for them, you are absolutely right. But I challenge you to think of it this way; Bernie Sanders may as well have been a third-party candidate. Bernie was for the majority of his political career an independent politician. His switch to the Democratic party for this election was simply to get his name on the national stage. And even with this simple change, Bernie Sanders managed to challenge the Democratic establishment, losing to Hillary Clinton by only 359 delegates — superdelecunts excluded.
There is a whole slew of third-party candidates representing varying views on the political spectrum. Most notably are Jill Stein of the Green party and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian party. Stein supported Bernie’s campaign and aligns with many of his views on income inequality, healthcare, education, the banks and more. Johnson is a Libertarian who believes in personal freedom coupled with smaller government. I strongly encourage everyone reading this to research some of the other candidates running for president.
For a country that prides itself on freedom, it is hypocritical to consider ourselves bound to two political parties which continue to take us further and further down the rabbit hole. We are stagnated, economically, politically, and in our standing in the world. If we truly want to “Make America Great Again”, we need to look in the mirror and address what is wrong with ourselves. We continuously support a political system that presents us every November with a choice between a rock and a hard place. Political views are not black and white. They are in constant flux, changing with the times. But our parties haven’t. They are hyper-polarized and won’t budge from their poles. And they won’t unless we make them.
While I absolutely despise the thought of a Trump presidency, I share that sentiment for Hillary Clinton. I am tired of the status quo and so was Bernie Sanders. I want to see a change in our political system. I don’t care who the president is. I want to see a third-party candidate get ten percent of the national vote. I want to see alternative views find their way into the national discourse. I don’t want to see an orange coif and a blue pantsuit bicker about how awful each other are. And because of this, I pledge to vote for a third-party candidate and encourage you to do the same.
Thanks for reading.