An Open Letter to Bernie Bros

Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., cheer during a campaign rally at the Cubberley Co
Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., cheer during a campaign rally at the Cubberley Community Center on Wednesday, June 1, 2016, in Palo Alto, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

I haven't weighed in on the election because everyone's said plenty already, and I don't think a blog post has ever changed anyone's mind about politics. But this is what I have to say to Bernie Bros -- and, for that matter, the white, liberal, largely untraveled and privileged Berners plugging their ears and pretending "visualization" helps people in need more than real social justice work and sacrifice working long hours for small compromises and for incremental changes in Congress and Senate:

I do feel, strongly, that Sanders supporters and Clinton supporters need to save their vitriol for Trump, because this man is incredibly dangerous. I believe his actions and words show him to be a fascist, a racist, a bigot, a bully, and a conman, and that any vitriol people in the Bernie camp want to direct at Hillary should be saved for Donald "Look at my African-American over here" Trump. I committed long ago to vote and to campaign for whomever gets the Democratic nomination, because there could not be more at stake here.

Clinton is not the Antichrist. Sanders is not the Savior. Anyone who is attentive to these politicians' records as well as the kinds of debates they had on national television can see that where a lethal threat like Trump is concerned, Sanders and Clinton have got a lot more in common than they don't. Clinton and Sanders are both rational, accomplished, dedicated, hugely imperfect, and admirable public servants. I'll proudly support whichever of them gets the nomination come November. I'm worried Clinton depends on big money to the detriment of some of her consistency and integrity, sure. But I'm also deeply worried that Bernie's platform lacks essential practical clarity in terms of how he'll implement his very poetic and attractive vision, and that's actually where I see your viewpoint's myopia in this, Bernie Bros. In fact, the moral rectitude and argumentativeness of Bernie Bros' descension into Twitter Trolldom as the votes rolled in Tuesday are emblematic of where I differ from the those Bros shouting "Go f*ck yourself!" every time Hillary Clinton speaks in a debate. I am older and wiser than 2008, when I thought Barack Obama merely needed to be elected to implement his dream, only to watch him be blockaded a million times by the House and the Senate for both of his terms. I understand, now, how much compromise will be required of whoever becomes president next, and how little will change unless the House and Senate do.

It's certainly probable that among the compromises and deals the Clintons have made in the ever-changing political climate of the last 40 years of bipartisan American culture, they've contributed to systems whose injustice I do my best as an educator, activist, development worker, and author to work against. But I have more faith in Clinton's foreign policy than in Sanders', because I'm still not entirely sure what Sanders' is. And, as an international development worker, that's of utmost importance to me. Clinton has made mistakes, but I think she was the first Secretary of State to connect issues of development -- healthcare, schooling, young women's empowerment -- directly to our national security. I believe that she was right: the more starved, oppressed and disempowered young people in poor nations are, the more likely they are to join fundamentalist groups. Cookstoves, in other words, are not a joke and not a women's issue; they're connected to the wellbeing of those in need abroad and, ultimately, to ours. Regardless of how far Sanders comes in his quest for the nomination, I will always be grateful to Clinton for her vital work to underscore that. She caught a ton of guff for that from male lawmakers and wonks, just as she's caught a ton of guff for every decision she's made under a merciless and plainly gendered spotlight of public scrutiny since the 1970s.

Broadly speaking, my platonically perfect ideals probably align more with Sanders', but my experience actually in the world, and working abroad, has given me great gratitude for the tireless, practical, exhausting work Clinton did as Secretary of State -- and most of all, an awareness of the necessity of ugly compromise in service of long-term policy change in the political landscape of an America embroiled in a long and bloody culture war. (And given what's at stake in this election, I'm honestly not particularly perturbed by the fact that Clinton, like Rice and Powell before her, had emails on a private server.) The youth I work with aren't only American and incarcerated; I also work with other youth in other countries,like female refugees from Congo, and their experience counts in equal to me. This is where I see *your* position as myopic, Bernie Bros: it's not clear to me how Sanders would achieve his vision, not to mention what that vision is on a lot of international issues, and it's therefore not clear what it would portend for people in other countries for him to be the one in charge. I've really only heard him talk at length about getting Wall Street out of Washington, and that's not the only thing I look at. Call that wide-lens and international-work-informed concern of mine myopic or unevolved or ignorant if you want, but I think that's rather a hypocritical assessment. Until Tuesday, I was still happy to either #FeelTheBern, or to say #ImwWithHer. I'll be a gladiator for either Bernie or Hillary, and I'll be honored to do so, but the work won't end there. I hope you take your political actions out in the field abroad, and to work on Congress and Senate elections, too, Bernie Bros, if you feel that strongly against Clinton. You're entitled to your opinion, and you're entitled to your vote. As am I, and my opinion is that if you refuse to vote for Clinton if it comes to that in November, you're abandoning marginalized people much more than I am by voting for her, and that you are doing the most entitled, white, cisgendered male thing there is to do.

This is what I have to say to the Bernie Bros trying to mansplain to me about how they have not worked grueling jobs here or abroad to learn, about what they think they're experts on because they read The New Jim Crow and can recite what Clinton got wrong without being able to recite or, even acknowledge, what Clinton got right. I voted for Sanders in the California primary, but Clinton won the nomination by popular vote. She is the first woman in U.S. history to do so. That's an enormous deal. Girls all over the world are going to see it, and it is going to matter to them, the same as it mattered to the refugees who had been driven out of China and who told me in Mongolian, eyes shining, "He's a Black guy! And he is your president!" Why yes, he was. He is. And he put this woman in charge of his international affairs for many good reasons.

Bernie Bros, I'm over you trying to kill my joy about this. I get to be excited for all the women I've met all over the developing world who will be heartened by tonight. I get to be excited to hold Clinton accountable and challenge her to be better. I get to be stoked to hold her to a high standard and ask her to strive to improve. I get to spend my working days as an educator, writer, and scholar learning about oppression and serving people who have suffered from it and ask Clinton to do what needs to be done to improve on her record in service of those people. This is historic, it brings me joy, and people trying to take that away from me, or minimize the history-making of this moment, can step off. Put your money where your mouth is, Bernie Bros, and work on changes in the Congress and Senate instead of "visualizing" the day away in your bubbles of largely white entitlement.

(And also, Trump is like the White Walkers in Game of Thrones coming to kill everyone whilst they bicker and in-fight, so let's not be Westeros. Let's get to work.)

Bernie Bros, I say this as I enter into my summer of reading, for my PhD qualifying exams, no less than one hundred books with "Trauma", "Prison", "Restorative Justice", and "Violence" in their titles. bell hooks and Michelle Alexander are my anchor authors. I work as an educator with refugees and incarcerated youth. I am not perfect, and I am always learning, but I do my best to put my money where my mouth is.

Do you?