As many of you may have been able to gather, I have been an ardent Bernie Sanders supporter for quite a while. Simply put: I have proudly flown the flag of blunt idealism for most of my adult life. Put more simply: I believe in the inherent goodness in people and the systems we have created to govern ourselves. Bernie represents the best ideals of this nation, ones of inclusion, education, equality and peace. I imagine George Washington would have quite liked Bernie Sanders.
But this is not George Washington’s United States. And the time for idealism is over.
Whether you agree with the methods that brought her there or not (superdelegates be damned), Hillary Clinton has officially earned enough delegates to obtain the Democratic nomination. This is cold, hard fact. She is the system’s choice, the preferred candidate of the liberal elite. She is the safer candidate in the eyes of many, the one less likely bring the whole machine crashing to a halt (or at least less likely to try). And she will be a good, if not unspectacular President.
And most importantly, she will not be Donald Trump.
The system is broken. It is very, very broken. Bernie Sanders was railroaded by the Democratic illuminati and deserved a better shot (although he still may have not garnered enough of the popular vote to clinch the nomination). Like it or not though, the party is very much giving it to Hillary. This is disappointing, don’t get me wrong. Voting for Hillary is learning to like the “practical” gift you got for your birthday when you wanted the shiny new toy.
But we need to learn to like it, because the alternative is almost unfathomable to consider.
Donald Trump is not just a bad candidate for President, he is arguably the worst candidate for President seen in the last 100 years. This is not simply because of his own words and actions this election cycle. The damage he himself can cause is nothing compared to the actions of the bigots and hatemongers his candidacy has galvanized over the last year or so.
I don’t need to cite examples, you know them all already. In his mad dash to get votes, any votes, he has (intentionally or not) given a voice to the worst elements of our society. The ones that look back on slavery, segregation, Stonewall, The Red Scare and the Holocaust as the good old days. The voices that have been silenced by a wave of progress washing over the country over the last 75 years that were clearly just buried on the ocean floor and not as washed away as we may have wanted to think. To them, Trump’s words signify a return to a time when open discrimination and violence were not only acceptable, but a way of life. Part of me fears that the true damage is already done, regardless of who takes the Oath of Office in January. A rightfully voiceless population has been given their voice back, and we may be too late to put that genie back in the bottle.
And anyone holding out hope that Trump will one day admonish this much larger than anyone will admit piece of his electorate and take a stand against the bigotry he has fostered, protected and silently encouraged need a severe reality check. Trump is a businessman, and businessmen do not leave money on the table. In this particular market, support is money. Votes are money. And he will not do anything that might willingly turn any of it away. Because Donald Trump cares only about Donald Trump. Any attention is good attention, any press is good press. It truly does not matter where it comes from.
Viewing this election as anything less than (relative) good vs. (confirmed) evil is a prime example of denial and naivety of the highest order. The response I have heard from a tragic number of Bernie supporters over the last few weeks of “I’m just not going to vote” is completely unacceptable. The only thing – the ONLY thing – Bernie serves to accomplish by remaining in the race at this point is dividing and disenfranchising an already damaged electorate. And part of me fears that may actually be his goal at this point too.
Elie Wiesel, one of my idols and someone with plenty of experience dealing with radical demagogues, once said that the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. Washing your hands of the situation, taking your ball and going home is not an option this time. Not with this much at stake.
Hillary is not my preferred candidate. Calling her the lesser of two evils magnifies her weaknesses more than I think they ought to be, but you get the idea. Her cardinal sin, near as I can tell, is being a politician. As we all know, that particular lot tend to be just a bit hypocritical, selfish and dishonest by default. She is no different in that sense than just about every president we’ve ever had, which means she can be no worse than what has come before.
But The Donald can.
This is choosing between being sunburnt or stabbed in the gut. Choosing between cherry dimetapp and rat poison. Choosing between 2016 Guns n’ Roses and Nickelback. One will disappoint you, but the other will kill you.
I’ll take gladly take the disappointment. I hope you will too.