What’s Next?

Josiah_BartletI loved “The West Wing” and in that I was not alone.  I think many of us – conservative and liberal alike – would prefer to vote for Jed Bartlet.  We want that idealized version of a President to be a real person.  He wasn’t a perfect person but he was thoughtful and compassionate and oh so damned smart.

When he had made up his mind on something, he’d simply ask “what’s next?”  It was a good question because you are never done.  There is always a next step.

I would identify myself as a Socialist so of course I was a supporter of Bernie Sanders.  He was speaking my language and even if he didn’t get the nomination, I wanted the Democratic Party to know that I’m kind of tired of their rush towards the middle.  I know a lot of other people who were excited about Bernie and who, for whatever reasons, hated Hillary.

They still hate Hillary.  And now some of them seem to want to hate Bernie too.  They feel betrayed because he is endorsing her and will be campaigning for her.

I’m not going to lecture anyone about voting third party.  If you honestly think Jill Stein would make a good President (I don’t), vote for her.  If you supported Bernie and are switching to Trump or Johnson, I don’t totally get it because he’s a Socialist and they are not.  But it isn’t my vote.  It’s yours.  Use it however you feel is most appropriate.

But look – Bernie didn’t betray you.  He was clear from the beginning that if he didn’t win the nomination, he would endorse Hillary.  He made a promise and he kept it.  We should be proud of him.

I get you aren’t happy with Hillary.  And there are clearly elements in the DNC that worked against the Sanders campaign.  What they did wasn’t illegal but it was certainly unethical and if there isn’t a major shakeup in the DNC, I’ll be really upset.

For the record: if you don’t think there was similar shit going down in the RNC, you are fooling yourself. That doesn’t excuse what happened in the DNC.  But the problem is systemic and stopping it in one party won’t stop it in the other.

Here’s the reality of what Bernie has done and what the Bernie supporters need to think about: he has changed the Democratic party.  He may not have gotten the nomination but a lot of his ideals are now written into the Democratic platform.

More to the point, a lot of people who weren’t involved in the political machine before got involved this year.

My fear is now those people will simply disappear.

Because political change doesn’t happen in an instant.  We’d all like to think that it can but these sorts of things take time.  The movement that Bernie started can be successful.

Unless most of the people who backed Bernie just give up.

The people who change this party are the precinct chairs and state party chairs and city council members and soil conservation officers.  They are people who don’t just show up for a caucus when there is a candidate that excites them.  They are people who show up every year.

Changing the party takes work.  And a lot of us don’t have the time.

But you aren’t going to change the party if you vote for Jill Stein.

And please note: I’m totally cool with anyone who votes for Jill Stein.  You do what you want to do and be proud of your decision.

But after you vote for Jill Stein, what are you going to do? Are you going to hope that you have a better candidate in four years?  Are you going to hope that the DNC magically transforms into a system that isn’t run by the people who chose to show up and who aren’t you?

If all you do is vote for Jill Stein, you have done nothing to change the system.  Nobody got your message.  They didn’t get the message when people voted for Nader back in 2000 and they won’t get your message now.  So vote for Jill Stein.  But please don’t stop there.

We can’t all get involved at a higher level and I get that.  I’m not trying to guilt anybody into doing more than they feel they can.

I’m just trying to say that politics are messy and imperfect and frustrating.  And political parties are run by the people who show up.

If you want to advance the causes Bernie was fighting for, go to your caucus every year.  It’s one night.  Vote in primaries for candidates that represent your ideals, even if those candidates don’t win the nomination.  Vote every year and understand who you are voting for.

These small steps don’t take a lot of time.  If you have more time, volunteer to be a delegate at a regional convention.  That will cost you another day.  But don’t ever think that a revolution comes without sacrifice.  It can’t all be someone else’s.

I’ve committed to never writing a negative word about Hillary Clinton because while she may be an imperfect candidate, there is much about her that I admire.  I admire her commitment to women’s rights.  I admire that she has changed her stance on GLBTQ rights and admitted she was wrong.  I admire that no matter what you think of her decisions, she is almost always the smartest person in the room and that includes when her husband is there.  I’m admire that she will continue to fight for Obamacare and given that is where I get my health insurance, I have a very personal stake in that fight.

You can dislike her all you want.  That’s cool.  But I’m not going to participate.  I think Donald Trump would be a disastrous President and I will happily talk about everything that is wrong with him.

But I won’t do it with Hillary.  Or Bernie.  Because I believe too much in what they both stand for to get pulled into ignoring the best qualities of either one of them.

Hillary won.  Bernie conceded.  I’m not being a party loyalist.  I’m being loyal to my principles and ideals and Hillary represents them almost as well as Bernie does.

If those who were energized by Bernie just give up, all the changes he fought for will be lost.

As a Bernie supporter, I don’t expect anyone to vote for Hillary.  What I hope is that those people who were so energized by Bernie work from within to build on the changes he represents.

If we walk away, the chances for a single payer health care system diminish.  The Republicans want to nuke Obamacare. If we walk away, the chances for national relief from college tuition diminishes.  If we walk away, the odds of women being denied the basic right to body autonomy diminishes and the odds of deadly back alley abortions increase.

This isn’t about Hillary winning an election.  This is about changing the way the Democratic Party thinks and acts.

It is about convincing Governors and Senators and Representatives to confidently and strongly back these initiatives.

It started with Bernie.  But it ends with us.

I hope Hillary wins this fall because I just don’t even want to imagine an America run by Donald Trump.

But the true tragedy would not be a Trump victory.  It would be all the Bernie supporters who feel betrayed right now sitting around in November and saying “see? I told you so” and then doing nothing.

If all they want to do is watch the world burn, they never really understood what Sanders was saying because if the world is on fire, he’ll be one of the people carrying a bucket.

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About Petsnakereggie

Geek, movie buff, dad, musician, comedian, atheist, liberal and writer. I also really like Taco flavored Doritos.

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