A Bernie Sanders Supporter Asks, Now What?

A Bernie Sanders Supporter Asks, Now What?

The miraculous thing about the Sanders campaign is that 60% of donations were small individual contributions, compared to 20% for Clinton. This gave the individual voter the feeling that he or she could meaningfully contribute to a winning campaign.

As the spunky veteran senator from Vermont condemned the post-Citizens United federal election process and rejected donations from powerful corporations, people began to “feel the Bern.” The funding was ultimately short of Clinton’s, and so too were the votes. Bernie Sanders ran a remarkable and inspiring campaign, but his millions of inspired supporters now have an important choice to make.

  1. Vote for Hillary Clinton: Vote Against Donald Trump

Sanders endorsed Clinton to ensure a Clinton presidency and a July Pew Research Center poll reported 90% of Bernie Sanders supporters planning to vote for Hillary Clinton.

The general feeling about Clinton seems lukewarm and to a typical Bernie supporter, the feeling is probably chilly at best. Polling shows 50% of Democratic voters view their vote more against Trump than for Clinton, as compared with 48% saying their vote is for Clinton.

Thus, perhaps former Sanders supporters will be most motivated by a negative – the non-election of Donald Trump. Or, more positively, progressive Democrats could take the bad (aggressive international approach, lack of relatability, hands tied by big money interests) with the good (victory for gender equality, avoiding a Trump presidency, experienced politician). There are many reasons for a former Sanders supporter to vote Hillary Clinton, but Trump (or lack thereof) will probably be the biggest

2. Vote Jill Stein: Idealism Trumps Winning

We have not forgotten Gore’s 2000 election loss. Many blame Green Party candidate Ralph Nader for the eight-year Bush presidency even though other factors like the majority-Republican Supreme Court’s decision to halt Florida’s ballot recount, a number of suspicious election administration incidents in Florida, and the fact that the electoral colleges collectively chose in favor of Bush even though Gore won the popular vote 48.38% to 47.87%.

While maybe not the actual cause, Nader (or, more rightly, his voters) may own the greatest shares of blame in terms of the proximate cause of Gore’s demise. As Bill Yue of the Washington Post pointed out, Nader won 97,488 votes in Florida, which could have swung the election to give Gore the state’s 25 electoral votes, rendering a recount unnecessary. Nader won enough votes in two states – Florida and New Hampshire – to put either of them in Gore’s column. Even without Florida, adding Nader’s 4% of the New Hampshire vote to Gore’s 47% would have given Gore a 270 to 267 victory in the Electoral College.1

For those of us who lean left, now might not be the time to lean harder, but to attempt damage control. Today, the cost for incremental progress toward a third party candidate may be in vain.

3. Vote Donald Trump: He Vaguely Resembles Bernie Sanders

Some see a paradoxical similarity between Sanders and Trump, and plan to jump party lines to vote Trump. I understand how some might make the leap. Many Bernie supporters are dissatisfied with the political system and perceive a two-facedness of the typical candidates from the major parties. Trump and Sanders are both atypical of their respective parties. They share a common id, a feeling that what they say is genuine, that it comes from the gut.

Below the surface, however, there lay two very distinct sets of beliefs and values when it comes to civil rights, criminal justice, the environment, economic inequality, education (Trump University versus free college!), foreign policy, government regulation, immigration, the social safety net, and, perhaps most undeniably, racial justice.

Regardless of the outcome of the primary or general elections, Bernie Sanders left his mark on the nation with a courageous and inspiring campaign. His political values and ideology have reached millions of young people who will fight for his vision regardless of who wins the election in November.

[1] Bill Yue, Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-nader-cost-gore-an-election/2015/02/05).