I was scrolling through Twitter last week when I came upon a blog written back in December by Laurence Lewis. Published on the site Daily Kos, Lewis' article was entitled "The privileged idiocy of 'Just let the Republicans win'". In it, he deftly describes the arguments made by entitled young white men about how they would rather watch the country suffer through four years of a xenophobic, racist Trump presidency than vote for Hillary Clinton. He concludes with this powerful passage:
To privileged idiots such as Shane Ryan, these are abstract sacrifices to be considered among many other abstract political calculations. Because he knows that he won't be the one doing the sacrificing. It's not his blood. It's legitimate to debate which of the Democratic candidates would be better, but it's dishonest and flat out stupid to claim that either is close to perfect or that either is even in the same paradigm of awfulness as the Republicans. And it is not just stupid but unconscionable to relegate others to the incomprehensible suffering another Republican president would make inevitable, just so one can pretend to be making a moral stand that is not only immoral but intellectually vacuous.
It was certainly a strong claim -- that people unwilling to vote for Hillary in order to "run the country into the ground" are immoral -- but one that I felt was worth investigating. After all, given how #BernieOrBust has been trending in recent weeks, it seems only fair to start taking these claims seriously. What would it look like if these people either voted for Donald Trump or sat on their hands and refused to vote at all? How would the transition from political revolution to participatory refusal work?
A recent Yahoo News article attempted to answer some of these questions. Rush Belville -- who also posted his own rambling piece on here last week -- was one of the primary people quoted. The article says:
"Though he acknowledged Trump could 'do some dastardly things' in office, Belville believes those problems 'would open up a lot of people's minds to more progressive solutions' and move the country to the left."
Right, because people who voted for Trump would find themselves open to progressivism only once the discriminatory policies they supported got put into practice. Trump supporters will magically have a veil of ignorance lifted from their eyes and discover that they've really been liberal supporters all along, like some sort of twenty-first century fairytale.
One of the photographers quoted in the article said this in closing: "To me, 'Bernie or Bust' means I will not vote for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances. And if that means I get a President Trump, I feel like he'll be farther left than she would be anyway," Scolari said. "At least he's a Beltway outsider. ... He's a lunatic, but I think he's probably going to be pretty easily handled by a professional Cabinet."
This assertion was so ludicrous that I had to read it over several times before beginning to understand what Scolari was even getting it. Let's break it down piece by piece.
"To me, 'Bernie or Bust' means I will not vote for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances.
This statement is pretty straightforward -- Scolari is explaining what "Bernie or Bust" means to him, and in this case, it means not voting for Hillary Clinton. His choice, even if it is a privileged and inane one (more on this later).
"And if that means I get a President Trump, I feel like he'll be farther left than she would be anyway[.]"
Right, because Donald Trump's platforms of building a wall between us and Mexico, putting all Muslim-Americans on a watchlist, reversing Supreme Court decisions on marriage equality, and defunding Planned Parenthood are all much further left than Hillary's. Nuking North Korea and being buddies with Putin also sound like decidedly liberal policies as well. Cutting the EPA, Voting Rights Act, and the Department of Education? Sounds like he could be a Democrat.
"At least he's a Beltway outsider. ... He's a lunatic, but I think he's probably going to be pretty easily handled by a professional Cabinet."
Is Mr. Scolari aware that the Presidential Cabinet is chosen by the President? It would follow, therefore, that there is no such thing as a "professional cabinet", nor would they play any sort of a role in "handling" Trump.
This isn't the first time this sort of split has happened in the Democratic Party. In 2008, when Clinton lost the nomination to President Obama, a group known as the PUMAs emerged: Their name stood for Party Unity My A**. This small but vocal group of Hillary supporters switched their support to McCain in fervent protest of an Obama/Biden ticket. People thought it would be the end of the party in the election. But it wasn't - the ticket survived and, indeed, thrived. There is nothing wrong with being upset about having a ticket without your candidate on it. There is something wrong, however, with taking all of your toys and stomping home in a huff because you lost. It's immature and incredibly selfish.
This election is different, I know. Many fervent Sanders supporters feel no loyalty to the Democratic party or a sense of party identity. On the other hand, many have nothing short of animosity for the DNC. There is no sense of history, shared identity, or vision. These Sanders supporters want what they want and they want it now. That's why all of the calls for Hillary to "bow out now" on social media seem so bizarre to the majority of lifelong Democrats but so reasonable to these supporters -- #BernieOrBust promoters aren't concerned about the long-term. Because Bernie has performed well in the past few contests, he's winning and therefore all obstacles to long-term victory should fold.
I'm a millennial. I get it. My whole life is about instant gratification. If I want something, there's no reason why I can't order it online, get it sent to my house in a few hours, or, better yet, even stream it on my computer immediately. It would be lovely to know right know what candidate will have the nomination. Instead, I have to wait with the rest of America for the long game to play out. It's tough, but that's the way politics works. And I'm certainly not willing to throw two hundred years of voter suppression and fights for enfranchisement away just because I, a relatively wealthy white guy, aren't in complete control of the election.
When I think about all of the people who are afraid of a Trump presidency, my heart breaks. Military personnel, Latinx-Americans, women, LGBT Americans, those with mental health issues, teachers, African-Americans, the disabled, and too many more to name all have said time and again how terrified they are of what might happen in this election. It's not just a question of the lesser of two evils, it's a matter of life or death. Access to safe abortions and clean healthcare facilities could save lies and reduce suicide among vulnerable populations. Investing in infrastructure improvements and military training will result in a safer America both at home and abroad. Yes, I could pout in the corner with my arms crossed and refuse to vote. But given how many African-Americans are currently disenfranchised as a result of Republican-created laws and procedures, to be able to sit on my hands is a luxury millions in this country don't have.
Deciding to throw the next four years down the drain is easy when none of the policies or practices affected directly impact your life. But if white men like me would rather disenfranchise and endanger the lives of hundreds of millions of people on principle, we are seriously deluded as to our own privilege and opportunity. We have to do better as enfranchised citizens when so many around us would give anything for the chance to cast their vote.