P.U.M.A. Isn't Just for Hillary Anymore -- It's for Bernie Bros, Too

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a campaign rally at the Indiana University-Purdue
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a campaign rally at the Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne in Fort Wayne, Indiana, U.S., May 2, 2016. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

Most of the politicos who were paying attention to the P.U.M.A. movement of 2008 had then dismissed us as merely being sore-loser, tantrum-throwing Hillary supporters -- scorned voters seeking revenge by not voting for Barack Obama in the general election.

Lost on such pundits was the simple proposal that no voter should feel shamed or bullied into placing blind partisan fidelity above other considerations when deciding upon a preferred general-election candidate.

P.U.M.A. was and remains the acronym, after all, for Party Unity My Ass.

This is a message that can and should resonate every time we go to the polls -- and is a message which stands to be of more consequence in 2016 than it ever did in 2008.

Ironic it is that, in 2008, it was the Hillary supporter who was the fiercest advocate for the need for election reform -- of putting an end to ill-proportioned delegate allotment, of dissolving the antidemocratic practice of caucuses, of ridding the system of calcified super delegates, of rethinking a primary calendar which is quadrennially held hostage to a small number of activist partisans in Iowa.

But now that the machinery seems to be more or less working for their gal, the desire for election reform seems to have fallen by the wayside for most Hillary supporters this cycle -- allowing that mantle to be picked up, instead, by supporters of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Just as Cruz supporters take glee each time their candidate wins more delegates in states actually won by Donald Trump, so too has many a Hillary supporter taken delight when her camp has been able to pull such a Cruz-move on Bernie Sanders.

Granted, there is an understandable desire amongst her followers that justice be had for Hillary, to atone for the DNC's manifold sins of '08 -- especially those crimes committed against the voters of Florida and Michigan by the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee. This is not unlike the understandable yet unrealized dream once shared by many Democrats that Al Gore would return to do battle in '04, to reclaim that which had been stolen from him by the U.S. Supreme Court.

It remains my personal belief that Hillary Clinton would have been the ideal president for repairing the damage done by eight years of George W. Bush. But after eight years of a Democratic White House -- with four years of a Clinton secretaryship within -- this is no longer a case that can be made for her candidacy.

"But Hillary and Obama are so similar on policy!" Democrats would oft insist in '08, as if policy similarities were the end-all and be-all of voting considerations. This cycle, however, many of those very Obama-Clinton similarities could prove to be as much of a liability as an asset in wooing Sanders supporters in the general election.

Do you feel the Bern to reverse the job losses wrought by NAFTA? Do you feel the Bern to resist engaging in regime change abroad? Do you feel the Bern to lessen the influence that lobbyists have over policy making? Do you feel the Bern for an independent-minded president who has at least some chance of shifting partisan lines in a way the might move Congress out of paralysis?

Without naming names, there might be a Republican candidate for you, you independent-minded Bernie supporters -- a Republican (in name only) candidate who is more in line with such beliefs than is a certain Democratic frontrunner -- a Republican candidate who, as president, could transform his party's apparatus in ways that might actually serve to improve primary and general elections for everyone in the years to come.

The P.U.M.A. movement is here for you, too, #BernieOrBust. "Party Unity My Ass" is a rallying cry that allows disaffected and disenfranchised voters to band together, to find moral support in voting against a grain that's been forced upon you, and to recognize that the frenemy of your frenemy can end up being your better frenemy in the end.

Will Bower
co-founder and spokesman for P.U.M.A. '08