“Bernie Or Bust” Has Reached A Dangerous High Point

“Bernie or Bust” is a campaign to “revolt against Plutocracy (RAP), a government of, by and for the wealthy few” according to the movement’s website.

Now that may sound benign enough, until you get the upshot of it all. They want voters to write in Sanders’ name in the general election or to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. That could be dangerous for Hillary Clinton’s chances to win the White House.

Their page describes the act as such: “A write-in campaign is designed to undermine that “destiny.”” (Clinton’s destiny to be nominated) […] We call it leverage on Democratic primary voters and insurance against corrupted super delegates “pledged,” to another candidate before one primary vote is cast.” Their strategy intends to ignite a revolution “against the wealthy few that control politics.”

Although the campaign has worked to promote a positive and peaceful movement, their website link, “HRCC” is a page dedicated to criticizing Hilary Clinton. Here is a quote from that page:

“The following videos, website and articles are offered for people to read, understand and share with their liberal friends who either back Hillary Rodham #CorporateClinton or are undecided about whom to support during the primaries in 2016. While Senator Sanders refuses to attack his opponents, Bernie has never stated nor implied that his supporters in the media should refrain from taking brass knuckle shots at the neo-liberal hawk leading in the polls by less every week.”

Following this introduction are numerous videos that focus on some of the negative interviews with Hilary Clinton throughout her political career.

This propaganda clearly establishes goals and intentions for the movement; but there are a lot of problems with the “Bernie or Bust” canvass.


Bernie Sanders at a campaign event. Photo Credit: Phil Roeder/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

This campaign speaks towards creating a new kind of government and a reformation for economic equality.

And that’s fine, but the division between Democrats driving this campaign is unproductive for this election.

In their paper, “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along”, political scientists, Alan Abramowitz and Kyle Saunders explain “that partisan polarization has increased considerably over the past several decades […] the gap between Democrats and Republicans was more than twice as large in 2004 as in 1972.” Those numbers have only gone up throughout the years.

The Washington Times wrote a piece on Clinton’s new stance on minimum wages in America. Hilary was ridiculed by Bernie supporters for using many of the lines that Sanders had been campaigning on.

However, as Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times pointed out, that is not a bad thing, as Sanders said recently, “I am delighted that Secretary Clinton, month after month after month, seems to be adopting more and more of the positions that we have advocated. That’s good.” Genuine or not, he is right.

If Sanders’ ideals are the start of a revolution, Clinton’s new remarks that mirror those ideals should be seen as a positive.

“Bernie or Bust” dictates that if Sanders is not president, his supporters are not going to vote for anyone, or in this case, are just simply going to write his name on the ballot.

But instead of clinging to a side and solely standing behind one candidate, Sanders supporters should take his positive and influential ideas and continue to pursue them in the rest of the country’s endeavors while still voting for Clinton.

Charles M. Blow of the New York Times has it right when he says, “While there are meaningful differences between Clinton and Sanders, either would be a far better choice for president than any of the remaining Republican contenders, especially the demagogic real estate developer. Assisting or allowing his ascendance by electoral abstinence in order to force a ‘revolution’ is heretical.”

Not voting for Hilary is another vote in favor of Trump.

Writing in Sanders’ name in an effort to stand against either candidate is not an effective way to promote change. Bernie Sanders is not going to be president. So instead of throwing away ones vote, one should use it to support a candidate that has shown a willingness to reevaluate her political convictions. If anything, use that vote to prevent a xenophobic, hateful, and petulant individual from becoming president.

Many young people have been extremely supportive of Sanders, yet these individuals are least involved in politics. The only other time our generation has been this supportive of a president was in Obama’s race for the presidency in 2008. Then, young Americans became disillusioned with the President and politics in general.

Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post stated that in the 2014-midterm elections, “Just 19.9 percent of 18- to 29-year-old citizens cast ballots last fall, compared with an average of 26.6 percent for the same age range in other midterm elections over the previous 40 years.”

Photo Credit: Alex Hanson/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Alex Hanson/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

It would be a shame for those numbers to reappear the same or lower in these next elections just because Sanders was not nominated. Instead of divulging in campaigns like “Bernie or Bust”, Americans should use their outrage to create positive changes from Bernie Sanders’ campaign in their local communities. Some economic inequality can be changed state by state rather than nationally.

The strength of the “Bernie or Bust” campaign comes from a belief that average, American people can instill change within the government if we all band together to make it happen. This philosophy is commendable.

However, the problem with a strategy such as this one is that it relies on a people that have otherwise been pretty unreliable in politics. This is not a time to wait and see if everyone comes through for a revolutionary movement, this is a time to stop a terrible person from becoming president.

The Bernie Sanders ideology does not have to end with his presidential campaign.

His supporters can keep Trump out of office by voting for Hilary and maintain this level of dedication and involvement to bettering the country.

These two actions do not have to be independent.

Sanders said it best: “On her worst day, Hillary Clinton will be an infinitely better candidate and president than the Republican candidate on his best day.”

The “Bernie or Bust” campaign website even says, “our political revolution must be bigger–and longer lasting–than Bernie’s presidential campaign”.

Real change comes from political protestation and participation; it requires government involvement; everyone can agree that reasoning with the administration will be much harder with someone like Trump in office.

If Bernie Sanders’ ideals, or rather, if what young people want for this country are going to succeed, they need to come from a desire to work outside of and within politics.

We as a generation like the big stories.

We stood behind “Black Lives Matter” during the Michael Brown case, but as usual, a hush fell over the crowd when the campaign began focusing on smaller reform; bottom up kind of issues just like “Bernie or Bust” wants.

It is easy to stand behind someone like Bernie Sanders. It is harder to watch him lose and make a choice to carry out his ideals by voting for his competitor.

However, not voting for either candidate continues to pigeon hold young people as the fair weather political activists we are. So vote where it counts. This election is not the only important one that lies ahead, and if “Bernie or Bust” succeeds, it proves to the rest of the country that we are always willing to stand aside and let everyone else make the actual decisions about this country.

Keep your power.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Phil Roeder/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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About the Author
Michele is a Senior Literature major at the University of Colorado Boulder. Michele is especially interested in multiculturalism in current literature. Her other interests include music, especially bluegrass and classic rock and hiking and camping in her home state, Colorado.
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