Friday Talking Points -- A Warning For Complacent Democrats

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 05:  Democratic presidential nomiee Hillary Clinton addresses the National Association of Black Journ
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 05: Democratic presidential nomiee Hillary Clinton addresses the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists August 5, 2016 in Washington, DC. Clinton took questions following her remarks. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Friday Talking Points is back! Woo hoo! Well, kind of....

We've spent the past two weeks travelling to and from the Democratic National Convention, but due to the three-week period we've got to cover, we're not even going to attempt to adequately revisit everything that's happened in the political world since our last column.

In fact, we're not even going to write our talking points this week, and we're only briefly going to touch on what's going on and quickly hand out the awards, before we get to a rather extraordinary (and extensive) essay at the end, by guest author Eric Varela.

While attending the Democratic National Convention, it was pretty plain to see that party unity has not quite yet been achieved. Oh, sure, the Republicans are divided as well, but the Democrats still have a lot of dissent and restlessness in their own ranks. Or perhaps "leaving their ranks" might be more accurate. To put this another way, Democrats shouldn't be complacent right now about how all the Bernie Sanders voters will eventually come around and vote for Hillary Clinton. Clinton's up in the polls, but turnout is still a very big question. Which is why Eric's essay is an important message the Clinton campaign needs to hear right now.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves, so let's instead make an attempt to summarize the past few weeks. The best wrapup we've read, from Salon, started off:

In the last two weeks, Donald Trump has slandered the family of a dead soldier, committed treason by inviting Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's email account, admitted he lied about receiving a letter from the N.F.L., saw an Air Force mother get booed at one of his rallies, claimed Russia wouldn't invade Ukraine even though they already have, refused to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan's candidacy, falsely accused a fire marshal of limiting his crowd for political reasons, tossed a baby out of a rally, and called Hillary Clinton "the devil."

Although admittedly a Herculean attempt to get everything in, astonishingly this even left out some of the Trump-related news. What it missed: Trump accepted a Purple Heart with the tone-deaf statement: "I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier." Trump received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War, just for context. Trump also began darkly hinting that if he loses, the election was obviously rigged -- a theme we venture he's going to revisit often in the coming weeks. Also, a Trump crowd booed protesters who were doing nothing more than silently standing holding copies of the Constitution. Republicans booing the Constitution! Who could have ever predicted such a spectacle? Oh, and to top it all off, Trump "saw" another video that doesn't actually exist.

Understandably, many Republicans have now entered full-blown panic mode, as Trump's poll numbers head south not only in the national polls but in most key swing states as well. Hillary Clinton is even beating Donald Trump in a poll from Georgia. That is downright stunning, folks.

Newt Gingrich probably summed up Trump's biggest problem, in one of the many "GOP Is Panicking!" articles which ran last week:

Gingrich said Trump is continuing to operate on instincts that helped him in business and in the primaries but said the GOP nominee doesn't realize that those skills are not adequate for a general election.

"He can't learn what he doesn't know because he doesn't know he doesn't know it," Gingrich said.

That's a positively Rumsfeldian way to put things, but it is entirely accurate. Gingrich hasn't un-endorsed Trump yet, but plenty of others are streaming for the exits. One of the co-authors of the famed "autopsy report" (written by the GOP after Romney's 2012 loss) just quit the Republican Party, in protest of Trump. A Republican House member started running campaign ads promising he'd "stand up to Trump," if it came down to that. Another Republican congressman just went ahead and endorsed Hillary Clinton. So did Marc Racicot, former chair of the Republican National Committee. And the most stunning blow yet, Meg Whitman announced she's not only endorsing Hillary Clinton, she will actually fundraise for Hillary, stating unequivocally: "I will vote for Hillary, I will talk to my Republican friends about helping her, and I will donate to her campaign and try to raise money for her." Reports surfaced during the week of Reince Priebus making an "apoplectic" phone call to Trump (after Trump pointedly refused to endorse Paul Ryan, John McCain, and Kelly Ayotte for re-election). Also there were rumors of a possible "intervention" to be held with Trump, led by Rudy Giuliani, Priebus, and Gingrich. Trump's campaign manager is also rumored to be feeling mighty down in the dumps about his candidate (and the impossibility of controlling Trump's mouth).

So, welcome to the general election season, Republicans! Having second thoughts on your nominee yet? To quote Jedi Master Yoda: "You will be... you will be."

Democrats, during this period, have mostly been lying low and watching the three-ring GOP circus unfold. Some journalists and even members of Congress on the left are now openly questioning Donald Trump's sanity, but for the most part this cake needs no icing from Democrats. It really needs no icing at all, but for those who don't care about their metaphorical blood-sugar level, here you go: Tim Huelskamp, Tea Party House member from Kansas, just got primaried out of a job. Sweet! He even wrote an article whining about his loss in the Washington Post, which is even sweeter (especially if you read the comments to it).

We really only have one more news item to draw attention to, one that hasn't been getting nearly the attention it deserves. In state after state, federal judges have been having a field day throwing out voter restriction laws that were enacted purely to suppress Democratic votes. In fact, every single case that was recently decided was decided against Draconian voter-suppression laws. What this means, in an era with a 4-4 divided Supreme Court, is that even if the highest court takes a look at any of these cases before the election, at worst they'd have a tie vote -- which means that all of the voter-suppression laws will be thrown out for this election cycle. That is good news for minority and senior voters, and it's good news for those who care about not taking even baby steps back towards the era of Jim Crow.

 

We're stretching the definitions of the awards this week, since they will be covering not "this week," but (much more accurately) "the previous week." Since Democrats have mostly been standing back and watching the fireworks spewing from the Republican campaign this particular week, we instead decided to give the awards based on the performances from last week's Democratic National Convention.

The most impressive speaker at the convention was a pretty easy choice. First Lady Michelle Obama's speech was delivered early, on Monday night, but she set such a high standard that nobody else for the rest of the convention managed to top her. And that's really saying something, because the Democrats (unlike the Republicans) had a solid lineup of people known for the quality of their oratory (such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, to name just two).

Three other speakers did get close to hitting the gold standard Michelle set. Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton all gave what we felt were the best speeches of their political careers (and all deserve at least Honorable Mentions for their performances). But we wrote about the primetime speeches in detail earlier, so check that out if you'd like to see how we ranked all the primetime speakers (behind Michelle Obama, that is).

Michelle Obama covered pretty much all the ground a convention speech is supposed to. She covered her own work as First Lady, her husband's legacy, how unqualified and unthinkable the opposite side's candidate is, and why Hillary Clinton is the only possible choice. She checked off all of those boxes in fine style, and more. In fact, she knocked it out of the park in a manner unsurpassed for the entire rest of the convention. If you haven't seen her speech, search it out and watch it -- it is definitely worth your time to do so.

Will Michelle Obama follow in Hillary's footsteps and eventually run for the Senate in Illinois? We certainly hope so. She outdid a whole bunch of professional politicians with the effortless and rousing nature of her speech last week. So it really wasn't even close -- Michelle Obama was hands-down the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week.

[Congratulate First Lady Michelle Obama via the White House contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]

 

There are a number of candidates for the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week, depending on how you want to define the term.

Senator Elizabeth Warren probably personally disappointed us the most during the convention, because she gave a rather low-energy speech. Granted, she had a very tough speaking slot -- sandwiched between Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders. Even so, we've heard Warren get a lot feistier before, so her relative calmness was somewhat of a disappointment. She is capable of far better, in other words.

Defined differently, Senator Bernie Sanders probably disappointed the largest number of people during the convention. When he formally moved to have the convention accept Hillary Clinton as its nominee, he broke a lot of hearts in the ranks of his supporters. Sanders is in the difficult position now of campaigning for Hillary on the basis of "she's better than Trump," which is a serious letdown to millions of his fans. So on sheer volume alone, Bernie probably disappointed the most during convention week.

But the biggest disappointment was, of course, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. D.W.S, as I like to call her (which saves so much typing time), had to step down from chairing the Democratic National Committee on the eve of the national convention's start. She strongly resisted this move, if behind-the-scenes reports are to be believed, and even still wanted to still personally gavel the proceedings into order (which would have surely resulted in some rather deafening booing from the crowd). The WikiLeaks document dump proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the D.N.C. had been acting as an extension of Hillary Clinton's campaign team all along -- confirming precisely what Bernie supporters have been saying for almost a year, now. After the convention ended, three more high-ranking D.N.C. staffers also had to resign as well.

Now, to be somewhat fair, D.W.S. didn't know the WikiLeaks bombshell was about to hit. She had no idea she was about to be exposed right before the convention started. However, she already knew what the D.N.C. had been up to, and had resisted strong entreaties (from the Bernie camp) for her to step down, for weeks and weeks before the convention started. When she finally did step down, she tried to do so in a fashion that would still allow her to take the convention stage -- which, at that point, could only have hurt her party and her candidate.

Of course, Hillary Clinton deserves her own (Dis-)Honorable Mention for immediately hiring D.W.S. for her campaign team (think for a minute about the message that sent to Bernie voters). But there really was no competition -- Debbie Wasserman Schultz was clearly the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week during the convention.

[Contact Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz on her House contact page, to let her know what you think of her actions.]

 

Volume 402 (8/5/16)

Before we begin, forgive me if I now slip out of my usual editorial "we" for this introduction, because I felt it needed more of a personal personal pronoun (if that makes any sense).

When I was at the convention, I decided to contact a young author that I've published here before, just to hear his take on things. His name is Eric Varela, and he previously wrote a piece for my site six-and-a-half years ago, on the one-year anniversary of Barack Obama's first Inauguration. When I asked him to update his bio information, he sent me this:

Eric Varela is an artist, a technologist, and an activist in the Baltimore, Maryland region. He is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) where he spent his time studying video, sculpture, fibers, and painting. He currently spends his days working as a Technical Artist for an E-Learning company and spends his nights tending to the every whim of his kittens Bombadil and Goldberry.

I had heard through the grapevine that Eric was a big supporter of Bernie Sanders, so I thought his take on the convention would be an interesting one. The essay I got back absolutely blew me away, both because it was so well-written and because it was so comprehensive. Eric recounts every step of the journey he's followed over the course of this election so far, in insightful detail.

As he points out, he doesn't speak for all young voters and he's not even attempting to sway anyone else's vote or anything. He is where he is, and he tells you how he got there. But this should be required reading for those now getting way too complacent about Hillary Clinton's chances in November. Which is why we're pre-empting our regular talking points section this week to bring it to you. If any influential Democratic Party folks actually read these amateurish attempts at talking points each week, then they should really pay heed to what this particular young Bernie supporter has to say.

-- Chris Weigant

 

How Did We Get Here?

The Democratic Primary From Ignition To Bernout.

By Eric Varela

The Democratic primaries are officially over. After a year of investing the totality of my energy and passion into choosing the next leader of our country, I am finally laying down my saber and starting to breathe.

I went into this election season relatively unenthused. I was displeased with government. Not necessarily with the outcomes (although I was upset with my fair share of decisions in the past eight years) but more with the structure and the process, and primarily with the only parties we allow in charge of it.

I was fed up with the partisanship, the childish bickering, and the propensity of both parties to put their own interests before the interests of the country as a whole. I was fed up with their strangleholds on power, and was utterly tepid at the prospects of voting to prop either of them up any further. When my driver's license came up for renewal I changed my party affiliation to "Unaffiliated" to disassociate myself from the entire mess.

And then Hillary Clinton announced she was running for president, and I was slightly more energized. The woman who I had wanted to win so badly in 2008, who on multiple occasions had said she wasn't going to run again, was again reigniting my dreams. In 2008 it was time for a strong capable woman to be president. In 2016 it was overdue. She had no real competitors of note and changing my affiliation was a hassle, so I decided to sit back and eagerly await voting for her in the general.

And then I heard an interview on NPR with a senator from Vermont. He spoke with passion and with heart and he spoke about the things I was frustrated with. The things that seemed as plain as daylight about what was broken in this country, the things nobody else in politics seemed to either notice or want to discuss. And I thought: "Good for you! You'll never get anywhere, but I'm glad there's someone in the race talking about these things."

That night I brought up the interview with some friends who also regularly listened to NPR.

"Ugh can you believe him? He was so rude, so arrogant!" was the first thing I remembered hearing. Also: "I can't believe they gave him that much air time. He better be thankful for what he got."

I didn't press it much further, I assumed they'd heard a different interview, and really I was there to drink and play board games, so why spoil the fun?

And then the Democratic debates started, which in contrast to the GOP debates were shining beacons of civility and respect, and an example of how leaders of a nation should conduct themselves. I finally got a chance to hear the candidates' stances on the issues in their own words, and I was thrilled that we had two strong candidates to choose from.

I started talking with people I knew -- my friends, my coworkers, my family -- and people would start saying things like: "I really like Bernie Sanders but there's no way he's going to win, so I'm just going to vote for Hillary." And I agreed, and we moved on.

And then Bernie Sanders started doing good. His poll numbers were rising. He was raising money. He was energizing a base, bringing new people into politics, bringing people back into politics. He had a simple message, a clear vision of the future, and the passion and energy to get us there. It looked like he actually had a shot and I was finally on board. I switched my party registration back to "Democrat," and for the first time in my life I sent in $25 to a political candidate. It felt good.

More debates followed and I was beginning to look more critically at Hillary's positions, and more favorably on Bernie's. There were fundamental differences in the way they spoke and the visions they had for the country. Hillary positioned herself as the only candidate to be able to take on the Republicans, while Bernie talked about creating a movement to create real change. The way Hillary talked reminded me of the way Coke and Pepsi aligned themselves in the early days of soda advertising; codependent rivals mutually aligned to eliminate all other competitors. Bernie talked like someone ready to get his hands dirty and make the future he wanted to see a reality.

Hillary's campaign started using the slogan "I'm With Her," and Bernie started using the slogan "Not Me, Us." More than anything else these slogans summed up their campaigns. Hillary was pitching a dispassionate brand of politics that required a lack of involvement as long as you had faith in your leaders. So as long as you were "with her" she was going to take care of you. Bernie wanted to make a revolution, it wasn't about him, it was about getting people involved in politics, and working to fix the glaring issues in the system so that everyone would be better off.

The weeks and months went on. I was seeing amazing things happen. People I'd been trying to get involved in politics for the past decade were waking up and getting excited about politics and getting involved with Bernie Sanders' campaign. Friends and family not yet old enough to vote were asking what they could do to get involved and asking me to pick them up buttons and stickers from local events. He was doing incredibly. His polls were continuing to climb, he was continually out-raising Hillary in campaign contributions, he was winning states.

There's a big middle portion here between the start of the campaign and today, that gets a little fuzzy and I'm having a little trouble piecing it all together in hindsight. It's difficult because things didn't change all at once, but they did start changing, and they started pilling on little by little.

With such an incredible movement growing one would expect to see that narrative reflected in the news, but every month the same articles would come out. Headlines proclaiming Bernie was finished, and his political rise was over. Headlines proclaiming that Bernie had had his fun, but it was time for him to drop out.

At some point the "artful smears" started coming out: Bernie's health is failing, Bernie is a sexist, Bernie is a racist, Bernie is a liar. At some point the "artful smears" started being turned on his supporters. After a year of watching a diverse, multicultural, multigenerational group of people organically grow together, bringing together people that spanned ages, genders, races, faiths, and sexualities, all of a sudden we were all "Bernie Bros." The only ones voting for him were white male Millennials who wanted "Free Shit."

This was the one that stuck, and the one that hurt the most. Thousands of voices were suddenly silenced. I knew feminists who were told by their heroes they were only voting for Bernie "for the boys". I knew women being shut down in arguments because they were mansplaining Bernie Bros. Black, Mexican, Korean, Peruvian friends being told they didn't understand the needs of minorities. Jewish friends told they didn't understand what was happening in Israel. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer friends being told Hillary Clinton was the greatest queer activist since Harvey Milk and chided for not accepting the Reagans as heroes in the movement.

Somewhere in this middle portion, we lost our rights to speak and to be heard.

Somewhere in here the campaign switched to not being against Bernie, but against his supporters.

The attacks were coming harder and more frequently, from Hillary's campaign, from Hillary's supporters, from Hillary herself. Hillary especially seemed to take a personal interest in dismantling the youth vote. In one debate she was asked about her low poll numbers among young voters and her response included the phrase: "But if you're new to politics and this is the first time you've really paid attention...." Shortly after that an interviewer asked about her donations from the fossil fuels industry and she responded: "I feel sorry sometimes for the young people who believe this, they don't do their own research."

She told the generation of "digital natives" who grew up with instant access to the entire summation of human knowledge that they did not do their research. She readily dismissed the notion that you could be young and informed, or young and involved, or young and have an opinion that mattered. It was clear from her answers that she didn't understand or respect the youth voters. Her supporters, convinced of the homogeneity of her opponent's supporters, started saying things like, "It's OK, young people don't vote anyways."

Bernie and his supporters were actively drawing in and engaging with youth voters and Hillary and her supporters were actively alienating and perpetuating the stereotype of their noninvolvement.

Somewhere in here was the shift to the heavy condescension that would follow Bernie supporters through the rest of the campaign. From here we started being told that we should be ashamed to "dream", that we were cultists following a desperate messiah, that we were naive, that we were not real Democrats, even that we were Republicans (or that we were easily influenced by their propaganda), that we were traitors for not supporting Hillary. Fellow Millennials started using the language that had regularly been used to put us down by the Boomers and the Gen-Xers -- that we were lazy and entitled and uninformed and childish. We were called sexists, racists, privileged, elitists, apathetic, overly-energetic, incapable of critical thought. We were told we weren't going to vote anyways, and that they didn't need our votes even if we did. We were told we wanted everything all at once, that we were fighting for an impossible Utopia -- and that we needed to stop trying.

Somewhere in this transitional period we started seeing very real institutional pressures actively working against us. We saw a low number of debates scheduled at odd times when we were backing a candidate whose greatest weakness was name recognition. We saw the D.N.C. change their rules to exclude Lawrence Lessig from participating in the debates with his single-issue platform of campaign finance reform. We saw the D.N.C. rolling back Obama-era campaign finance rules to benefit Hillary. We saw Super PACs lining up to support Hillary, while Bernie passionately decried them and vowed to not use them in his campaign. We saw the national media proclaim every half-a-point victory of Hillary's painted as a crushing defeat for Bernie and every double-digit lead he had as the end of his campaign. We saw journalists coming out saying they had traded access to Clinton in the past in exchange for letting her team dictate language and structure in their articles.

We saw irregularities in voter registration and polling numbers, and silence from the D.N.C. and Hillary's camp. We saw polling centers closed down, blocked, disorganized, understaffed, undertrained, underprepared, and understocked on ballots. We saw this disproportionately in areas favoring Bernie. We saw manufactured stories of violence and suddenly we were all brutish troublemakers who were impossible to work with.

At some point in this transitionary period Correct The Record appeared, having spent a cool $6 million to date (in a proud and public fashion) with their Orwellian Ministry-of-Truth-esque goals of astroturfing the internet to make support of Hillary seem stronger online. I am reminded of the scene in Thank You For Smoking where the main character explains to his son: "I didn't have to [prove I'm the best]. I proved that you're wrong, and if you're wrong, I'm right."

During this entire campaign I experienced first-hand the Bernie Sanders campaign encouraging new voices, energizing voters, and bringing people into the political process, and I experienced the Hillary Clinton campaign attacking, silencing, and marginalizing voices. I saw silence on issues that brought questions of integrity into the process of the campaign with a candidate who has the lowest integrity ratings a presidential candidate has ever seen. I saw people who were hurting and struggling being told they needed to wait to get what they wanted, that they couldn't get it all at once. I saw Bernie Sanders ridiculed in the debates for "diagnosing problems" that nobody else was talking about. I saw Hillary Clinton make promises to the Sanders camp when it was in her best interest and walk back on her part of the bargain when it no longer was.

I have seen a troubling relationship with media from the Clinton camp, and an incredible erosion of trust in the news from my generation. I am troubled by the fact that at the end of July she hasn't held a press conference in 210 days, and that when they are held the questions are prescreened. I am troubled by her use of white noise machines to keep out journalists, and to silence her opposition. I am most troubled of all that this comes from the candidate who has called herself the "most transparent public official in modern times."

After the D.N.C. email leaks came out, depending on your reading of them there was either irrefutable proof that the D.N.C. had worked to put Clinton in power, or at the very least you acknowledged that there was some preferential treatment by the D.N.C. for Clinton. Again, the more troubling issues came in the forms of the responses of her supporters. It was: "obvious that they would have a preference since Sanders wasn't a real Democrat," and: "the D.N.C. is a private organization, they can do whatever they want." And I was reminded of why I was fed up with the two parties in the first place.

I went into the conventions with the smallest sliver of hope that the leaked emails would force about some change in the party, and potentially even see a Bernie ballot come out of it all. If not, I was expecting to see bridge-building, working for unity, and active work to bring Bernie's supporters back into the party.

On the first day Debbie Wasserman Schultz was removed as the chair of the party and it looked like this was the first step in the right direction. Within the hour it was announced that she was now an honorary chair on Hillary's campaign and it was clear the direction the party was headed.

We wanted humility, compassion, and remorse, and instead we got further condescension, aggression, and scorn. The party that had been actively campaigning against us was now simultaneously demanding our silence and our submission.

The night Hillary was officially announced the nominee was devastating. Hillary had run a worse campaign and she had won. Even though she had been dropping in polls among her own party since the start of the campaign, even though her national polls were at an all-time low. Even though she had been dividing the party, and dismantling the single largest block of youth voters that the Democrats had ever seen thanks to Obama. Even though she had turned away a flood of new blood into the party. Even though she was polling lower against Trump. Even though she had turned the most vocal and passionate supporters of liberal causes into the fiercest critics of the party. Having been insulated by the media and boosted by her celebrity, she somehow came out on top.

So as Bernie supporters, we were upset. We saw a party that had spent the past year pushing its newest and most passionate people away to elect a weaker candidate, who was riddled with scandals, who unified the Republican Party in their hatred of her, who had spent the past year telling us how naive our ideas were. Guaranteeing this election would be one spent battling personalities and not ideologies. And we saw a party that was now demanding the fruits of our labor and our unwavering subservience.

So when the D.N.C. unveiled "the most progressive Democratic platform ever" it didn't feel like they were finally listening to our ideas. It felt like they had mugged us for those ideas. It felt like they had been ripped from us and put in the hands of someone who had a history of misrepresenting her intentions to take advantage of our support, and someone who had no intention of following through on them.

We started hearing all the arguments we were shut down for using for Bernie being used against us. Our ideas that were once impossible fantasies of delusional youth were now necessary crusades in the battle of evil against the GOP. We were accused of wanting purity when we only wanted a destination. The privilege we decried it took to be satisfied with the current state of affairs of the country was now the privilege we were flaunting by not being enthused by Hillary. Minorities who were saying in unequivocal terms that they had already suffered under a Clinton presidency -- and would suffer again under another one -- were being silenced in favor of the feel-good "white savior" narrative being built around the threat of Trump. We had the opportunity to campaign on hope and unity and instead we got division and fear.

We traded directed passion for aimless incrementalism that exists without critique of the state we are in. We traded a passionate base for a passionless leader. We traded a candidate who was opening borders and possibilities for one who is entrenching current parties and systems that are fundamentally broken. One who was amplifying voices that didn't know they had a right to speak for one who asked only your loyalty and your silence. We are running the two most hated people in America against each other at a time it is more important than ever to come together as a nation.

So while I am upset that my favorite candidate did not win, I am more bothered by the aggressive apathy the one who did inspires in people. I am worried at the reluctant support prevalent in my social networks of people who are mostly voting for her out of obligation to not make Trump president. I am troubled by the lack of any semblance of accountability for the elections and the dismissive attitudes of the people who benefited from supposed improprieties. I am terrified we are sending a candidate against Trump who cannot win in a contest that should have been the most easily-won in the history of American politics.

I feel ostracized from the only party I am supposed to be able to count on as allies, and pushed further away by its members when they find out I'm not toeing the line. I feel conflicted as a feminist for wanting so badly for more women to be in politics, and for not agreeing with Hillary's ideals, positions, or tactics. I feel deeply saddened that Bernie and his supporters are being set up as the inevitable scapegoats in the case of a Democratic loss in November, and that the attacks we've experienced until now are only going to be darker and more violent then.

So the primaries are over now. I have nothing left to fight for. Bernie Sanders made me want to be a Democrat and Hillary Clinton made me want to get out of politics forever. Now I have to decide what I want to do. When I first started voting someone older and wiser than me told me that every election he had ever participated in had been billed as: "The Most Important Election Of All Time." I try to keep that in mind when people tell me the same thing today. This year we have the Supreme Court, and in four years we have redistricting. There will always be crucial battles "Our Side" cannot lose.

I only get one vote, and I've been doing my best to convince everyone I know, for as long as I've been able to vote that it is an incredible privilege, and a profound duty, and that no matter how small it seems, that "Every Vote Counts". But at this point voting seems little more than a tacit endorsement of a broken political process that is wholly incapable of producing competent leaders or of providing a voice to an increasingly disillusioned citizenry.

In the primaries I would have walked barefoot 20 miles uphill in the snow to get to a polling center to vote for Bernie. In the general, if the lines aren't too long, I'll go in -- but I'll be voting for someone other than Hillary and someone other than Trump.

I won't presume to tell anyone else how to vote, but I can no longer support the two-party system, and I especially cannot support these two parties as the only options. We deserve better candidates. We deserve better parties. We deserve better elections. We deserve a better system. And if we can't vote for that at a time when the most hated candidates to ever run for office are running against each other, then when can we vote for it?

 

Chris Weigant blogs at:

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com

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