Most of my interactions with Hillary supporters have been fairly negative. They’ve been insulting and condescending towards Bernie and Jill supporters, and I in return have no trouble hurling vitriol towards people who are being asshats. However, today I was asked a very polite question from a Hillary supporter. I gave a brief answer (Twitter does not lend itself to anything else), but I think it’s a legitimate question, and it should be given a detailed answer.
The question, as seen in the title of this post, regards what the Bernie or Bust movement hopes to accomplish with its ‘or Bust,’ that is, with our refusal to support Hillary in the general election. So here are a few things we seek to accomplish, or at least that I seek to accomplish.
1 OUR CREDIBILITY
We’ve said for months we would not support Hillary under any circumstances. What happens if we change our minds now, without any external reason to do so? After all, we always knew Trump might be the GOP candidate. We said we wouldn’t support Hillary against Trump. If we change our minds now, why would anyone believe us in 4 years if we say we won’t support the next (or the same) neoliberal corporatist the Democrats run for president? Ultimatums only work if we follow through, and ‘or Bust’ was an ultimatum. For the sake of our future credibility, we must follow through.
2 REFORM LIBERAL POLITICS
One thing that must be understood about Bernie vs. Hillary is that, unlike many primaries, it was not a primary contest to determine which candidate was better for implementing Democrat policies. It was a contest between two very different political platforms, with Hillary representing the Establishment Democrats, and Bernie representing a brand of liberal politics that honestly the Democrats generally oppose. Bernie tried to transform the Democratic party from within, making it move to the left. He failed. ‘Or Bust’ seeks to either 1. force Democrats to realize that if they want to win, they need to court the left in the future, or 2. to start an entirely new major political party, either a brand-new one, or by elevating an existing party such as the Green party to higher prominence. Indeed, there are enough liberal independents and liberal democrats that if we were to all band together, we would likely outnumber the remaining centrist and right-oriented Democrats.
Basically, if we keep voting for the Democrats no matter what candidates and policies they offer, things will never change. We demand change, either fundamental change to the party (which strikes me as exceedingly unlikely) or by creating a new party. We’re willing to accept that by refusing to fall in line with Hillary, we risk Trump. In the future, if Democrats are serious about avoiding GOP leaders, they’ll need to compromise with us. Alternately, we will go off to form our own party.
And speaking of compromise, Sanders was a compromise for many of us. For example, I fully support the points in Stein’s platform which involve forgiveness of all student debt, implementation of Basic Income for all, and changing our government to have proportional representation. I was willing to compromise with the Democrats and back Sanders, despite the fact that he did not back any of those points. It is unfair and inaccurate to characters Bernie or Bust as ‘unwilling to compromise.’ No, we were willing to compromise. But compromise has to go both ways, and we won’t compromise all the way to Hillary (Hillary is not even a compromise; she is the quintessential neoliberal candidate).
3 PERSONAL INTEGRITY
Even if we aren’t numerous enough to prevent a Hillary victory, we refuse to reward the Democrats for a primary filled with election fraud (exit polls in 11 states are well outside the margins for the UN to declare an election bogus, and all of them were in favour of Clinton) and unethical, possibly illegal, collusion by the DNC to sabotage Sanders.
In fact, even if I liked Hillary and her policies, I would not vote for her, not after the DNC leaks. Some might argue (even Sanders has said as much) that the DNC and Hillary are separate entities. Fair enough. But consider that Clinton, rather than condemning the exit poll discrepancies or the DNC collusion, has refused to say anything about the former, and hired Debbie, the former DNC Chair and one of the chief architects of the DNC’s sabotage of Sanders and promotion of Hillary. Whether Hillary was personally aware of what the DNC was doing is aside the point when she rewards the people involved by hiring them.
No, we have too much integrity and self-respect to reward the Democrats and Hillary for a victory that is tainted.
4 SOME OF US LEGITIMATELY PREFER TRUMP ANYWAY; MOST DON’T SEE ENOUGH DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO PARTIES TO REALLY CARE
This is a bit of a controversial one. But some Berners are not merely willing to risk Trump winning, we would actually prefer him. For most of us, this is at least in part because we believe a Trump victory would galvanize a liberal counter-movement. For some, like Cassandra Fairbanks (see her youtube video on Trump), it is because Hillary’s foreign policy is scarier than Trump’s. For some such as myself, it is because we trust Trump on trade more than Clinton (already, political insiders are saying they believe Clinton will flip back to supporting the TPP).
And no, we don’t like Trump’s racist or misogynist comments, but as one person put it, ‘Everything people fear from Trump we’ve already seen from Clinton.’ A wall with Mexico? Clinton VOTED for it. Screwing over poor workers? Clinton saw to it that Haitians could not get their minimum wage raised. Disastrous foreign policy? Clinton was the prime mover in destabilizing Libya and turning it into an ISIS stronghold. (For the record, I’m pretty interventionist, but only when we can actually control the situation with some kind of assurance). Anti-choice SCOTUS? Clinton picked Kaine, a pro-life politician, for her VP!
Trump would at worst be a bad president whose idiotic ideas would be blocked by a bipartisan congress that hates him, and we could oust him in 4 years and replace him with a real liberal.