I began following politics closely during the 2000 election. I was 13 and precocious and in Catholic school, where I clearly didn’t belong and where we were made to watch each presidential debate.
I’ll be honest, I found this very boring and tedious at first. However, I enjoy any problem with a clear right and wrong answer, and by the second debate it was very clear to me that there was a right and a wrong answer here. I vocalized that opinion loudly in school, because it seemed obvious and because, being the ‘smart kid,’ I was usually right when I spoke up with an answer.
So, you can imagine my absolute horror when Bush won first our school’s mock election and then the real one that November. How could this be? It was so obvious: Bush was an imbecile. Why would people vote for someone who was clearly less intelligent, less competent, and less able to do such an incredibly important job? What was happening?
I would, of course, go on to experience similar moments many more times in my life, but this was the first time I was made to understand that intelligence and competence don’t matter to people as much as they should. This is not and never will be a meritocracy. I was devastated.
Biden wasn’t my first choice. At one point he was not even in my top 20. But the current crisis has made what was obvious before perilously clear now: Trump is a danger to this country and its people, particularly its most vulnerable.
What do you think happens when those policies are then subsequently challenged in the Supreme Court, which, by then, could easily be 6–3, or even 7–2, in favor of conservatives who’d rather blow this country up than see it work for everyone?
That is one of the biggest problems with the ‘Bernie or Bust’ crowd. Many (not all) of them are not as likely to suffer very much under another four years of Trump. Maybe they’ll struggle a bit more, but, for the most part, they can stand their ground and wait another four years with very few personal consequences.
I too have a lot of privilege: I’m white, healthy, able-bodied, college-educated, and have a good job I can currently do from home. But I will not let my political values ride on the backs of people who cannot and should not be expected to carry the burden of those values. There is nothing noble or just in that. Trump is too dangerous, and nothing is more important than getting him and this dangerously incompetent administration out of the White House.
Still, even this is not the biggest problem with the ‘Bernie or Bust’ movement. Sure, it’s frustrating to watch, but people want to vote their values and in most situations I’d be behind that. I’d encourage it.
There’s a longer game here, though.
Why would people vote for someone who was clearly less intelligent, less competent, and less able to do such an incredibly important job?
No, the biggest problem with ‘Bernie or Bust’ is that, whether Biden wins or loses, the next person who does sit in that office will be faced with a very different Supreme Court. This is something that conservatives understand; it’s the long game they’ve been playing for years.
In four years we will have another chance to put a real progressive in the White House. Given the current state of things, it even seems likely that they will enter with real support behind many of their proposed policies. Apparently, there’s nothing like a global pandemic that shuts down the world’s economies to make you realize that universal healthcare divorced from employment status is pretty damn important.
But what do you think happens when those policies are then subsequently challenged in the Supreme Court, which, by then, could easily be 6–3, or even 7–2, in favor of conservatives who’d rather blow this country up than see it work for everyone?
Do you think that that future progressive president has a chance of enacting Medicare For All? Do you think student loans and affordable college education will be addressed effectively? Do you think that stronger climate change regulations or a Green New Deal will stand a chance in front of such a court? Where does the social safety net that’s being tenuously strung together right now go under such a court’s scrutiny? And what do you think happens to Roe vs. Wade, which is currently missing only the final nail in its coffin?
No, these are not risks that I’m willing to take, and they’re not ones that any progressive, any Bernie supporter, should be willing to take either.
If you truly believe in Sanders’ platform, then vote accordingly. Vote to get as close to those policies as we can. Vote to make sure we have a chance of getting at least some of the things we want put in place. Vote to make sure that we are all protected. Vote to make sure that something like what we are currently experiencing never happens again under such incompetent leadership.
Vote your values, but please do so strategically.