First, let’s just address that yeah, it fucking sucks that Bernie isn’t our nominee. I feel it. Most of us that were for Bernie feel it. We mourn the loss of a candidate that spoke to us, and for us, in a way that stirred up more passion than even Obama did in the 2008 primaries. Sanders speaks our language. He knows our issues. He is brilliant and it’s more than just unfortunate that we couldn’t send him all the way to the White House. He would have been a remarkable president – no doubt.
Yet, here we are with heavy hearts, perhaps with a little less bounce in our step, with anger, disappointment, and with the urge to scream at our neighbors for not doing their part! Why didn’t they see the light? How can they all vote against their own self-interests? Damn it!
But, this is not the end. For months we’ve known the outcome of this convention would be a nomination for Hillary Clinton. The primaries were exciting, but they weren’t enough. We’ve braced ourselves as well as we could for the let down of losing the opportunity of having a true progressive representing us in the Democratic Party. This wasn’t a surprise.
What is the surprise is just how much we’ve been represented at the Democratic National Convention. Yes, I said it. Stop licking those wounds for a moment, let the sting of the loss settle and hear me out.
First of all, on the first night Bernie Sanders, our guy, received a huge amount of well-deserved recognition. His speech did not waver from the mission nor was he dismissed. Yes, there was anger in the room, to the point that many of my peers showed great disrespect for people who are on our side – like John Lewis and Elizabeth Warren. And, perhaps through that anger, my fellow Bernie voters were missing what was actually taking place: progress.
Our platform is not lost. Our values are not gone. Through the course of not only these primaries, but over the last few years we have moved the Democratic Party to the left. There is no denying it.
For example, eight years ago when we were working to elect our beloved Barack Obama, marriage equality was an issue our leaders wouldn’t even touch. Sure, they danced around it talking about possible “civil unions” while still appeasing the Christian definition of marriage that was written into law. It was only through progressive influence, progressive pressure within the party, that we made that happen. And yes, that happened while we have right-wing conservatives in our country still fighting for their bigotry rooted in religion. Now, marriage equality is the law of the land.
These changes do not come easy and they certainly aren’t made overnight. While the urge to vote third-party is understandable, the fact remains that we are dealing with a two-party system. That will not change for the 2016 election. Perhaps 2020 will be different, but November 2016 is coming quickly and there are two choices: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. It is guaranteed that one will be President of the United States of America.
We can choose to attempt to recreate the wheel, and fail miserably as outsiders. Or, we can choose to dig our heals in and continue to push our party left, as we have been doing for years. The way we do that is by electing Hillary Clinton as president, voting for progressives in all our other races, and keeping that pressure on from within. That’s the only way we get police reform, a living wage, healthcare for all, protection of a woman’s right to choose, equal pay for equal work, paid family leave, and the plethora of other issues currently not being addressed by conservatives.
Sadness that Bernie is not our candidate is a shared feeling among most of us sitting in the left-wing, who have been left of center through decades of elections. It’s understandable. We’ve been sitting far left of the center, compromising our values with each presidential election. But, all hope is not lost.
Tonight at the DNC we saw true progressive issues being addressed. We saw our leaders speak about reforming policing in America. We saw mothers, who have otherwise been demonized in most of the mainstream media, take the stage and speak about the murders of their children at the hands of law enforcement. We saw women’s rights champions, advocates for fair immigration policy, talk of further healthcare reform and many of the other issues we care dearly about.
While I know the sting of our loss is very real and I know many will wish to dismiss the following statement as fear mongering – a loss in November which results in a President Trump is only going to sting that much more. It won’t just be a sting of an election loss, it will be a moment in history that can’t be undone. We must protect ourselves from the harm that will come under an administration formed with racism, bigotry and hate as the foundation.
Friends, there is simply far too much on the line to not join our party and continue to move it left from within. The risks are far too great to abandon it all.
Talk of unity is not just for warm fuzzies – oh no – unity is absolutely necessary. The work can continue, within, and it will. But only if blue wins in the end.
Yeah, I felt the Bern (and still feel it) and now, I’m with her.
Featured image via Getty Images