This is an open letter to the jaded progressive who is choosing to vote for a candidate other than Hillary Clinton, or to not vote at all in this upcoming presidential election. I hope you see this appeal in a different light than those which would ridicule your ‘foolishness,’ or insult your intelligence.
I am not writing to present you with logical arguments because, one―I don’t believe you are in a place to hear them; and, two—I am sure that you already know them, and they only feed into your disgust with the American political system.
I get that. I feel it, too. I hear you. I respect your passion for your point of view. I appreciate that you don’t want to go along with a vote for a candidate you do not trust. I understand that you feel that choosing between Corruption R or Corruption D is no choice at all.
I felt that way, too. Especially when I was finally coming around to accepting having to vote for Hillary Clinton, and then she appointed Debbie Wasserman Schultz to her campaign and had me reeling again, I felt that way. I cannot reconcile how someone with Hillary’s record for standing up for children, women, and health care can also be involved in such underhanded campaigning “strategies” in the primaries.
So, where do we go from here? I choose to step back and sit with my conflict. Remember—this post is not about considering the logical arguments of this situation.
I don’t hope to change your mind; I hope to change your heart.
When I consider why I would not like to vote for Hillary, I am acting from a place of betrayal, distrust, and resentment. When I consider why I would vote for her, I am acting from a place of belief in that the few—although extremely important—reasons why I feel distaste for her are things that can be changed—that are being changed with the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz from the DNC (even though we see that she’s not exactly gone) and with action being taken to significantly change the way superdelegates are handled.
They can’t be changed in retrospect to bring fairness to these primaries, and they won’t be changed overnight, but they absolutely can be changed if we channel our distaste into something positive—which we can only do if we don’t allow our disappointment to rekindle our political apathy, which we may project as a protest, but let’s face it, it’s a grudge.
I am not a grudge-bearer in life. I will not choose the state of my child’s future out of bitterness or resentment—the festering cancers of the emotional world. Do you know who is doing that? It’s not just the fed up left; it’s the fed up right, too.
Trump supporters are rallying together out of bitterness and resentment toward whichever scapegoat suits their grievance. Trump is the icon of fear, divisiveness, and tyrannical ambition. Whatever you have a problem with, however you have experienced injustice in your life, Trump has someone ELSE to blame for it.
Maybe as jaded progressives we have ourselves to blame for not getting involved sooner. Maybe we need to march past the fact that though we didn’t win the chance for the biggest office, we are still very much represented in the Democratic platform.
We can’t just say, “Well, that didn’t work,” and go back to how it was before Bernie Sanders lit the fire of possibility in our hearts.
We owe him more than that.
The DNC speeches were full of nods to Bernie, not just to reel in his supporters, but because the Democratic Party is more than just its figurehead. It is the sum of all its parts—many of which are progressive—and, if we keep our heads in the game, we can continue to elect more and more progressives from the ground up.
A lesson we can learn from Hillary Clinton is that big change takes time, persistence, and tenacity to effect. The momentum is still surging, so long as we don’t kill it. It may not be exactly what we wanted, but it’s still the most progressive agenda presented by any major party, and that’s a win.
So, I don’t call you ‘entitled’ or ‘immature’ for being affected by your emotions. I encourage you to sit with your conflict, as I did with mine. I encourage you to see yourself for who you really are; and to cast your vote for President of the United States of America from where you want to be as an American. Do you want to be ruled by bitterness and resentment? Do you want to be so self-righteous that you can’t see beyond your own hurt to look for a viable solution for the entire country? Because neither voting for a fringe candidate nor not voting (or voting for Trump) is viable.
I ask you to seek within to the place that is deeper than the surface hurt. I ask you to show your children that you won’t give up, or hand your country over to disaster because you got knocked down this time. Bernie Sanders showed us that the Democratic Party is worth saving even though it has some major flaws, but it is our responsibility to correct those flaws, and to do it driven by our passion, our hope, our faith in humanity. We must take our power back by working for it; we cannot do it by turning away.
*See my sister article, “To the Respectable Republican.”