Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bernie Goes Bust

If you follow me on Facebook it should be no secret to you that I support Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential election. I guess I should say that I supported Bernie Sanders. Until last night, I held out a minor modicum of hope that he might still seek the Democratic nomination or might run as an independent, despite what he's said over the last few weeks.

Last night, I watched a few minutes of Sanders' speech at the DNC in Philadelphia. I was hit with a sense of finality when he said, "Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States. The choice is not even close." Many in attendance were hit with this as well. From the crowd came a mixture of cheers and sounds of dissent. I'm not sure what I will do in November but let's rewind a little.

I supported Bernie Sanders not because he was anti-establishment but because he was true. First, he eschewed corporate money and mounted an incredibly successful supporter-funded campaign. If real people just like me hadn't wanted him to run, his campaign would have fizzled before it really got started. He made it all the way to the convention. If he wanted, he could seriously contend for the nomination.

The second reason is his integrity. I'm not using integrity in the sense that he's scandal-free. Everyone has skeletons in their closet. What I'm saying is that, throughout his political career, his messages and goals have been consistent. He has always been for a fair wage. He has always been for human rights. He has always been in favor of education. He has always been for more equitable distribution of wealth. Okay, maybe you can point to some instance where one or more of these statements do not hold true but, overall, he's been fighting for the same things since he started.

My third reason for supporting him is his message. Do I agree with every goal he wants to attain? No, I don't. Do I agree with every method he wants to use to attain those goals? No, I don't. Do I believe all of his goals are attainable within a four-year term? No, I don't. The thing is, though, that he is the only one really talking about some of these issues. While many of the candidates have been hitting hot buttons of "christian" values, the sanctity of marriage, who should use which bathroom, and discussing hand size in relation to manhood, Sanders has continued to talk about raising the standard of living, bringing back the middle class, improving access to higher education, reforming the student loan system that's structured in heavy favor of the lenders, and no longer considering a business a person.

As Sanders gained momentum and there was a good chance he could win the nomination, Clinton started parroting some of Sanders' rhetoric, presumably to sway some of his supporters to her side: "See, I can do that too." Her inconsistency of message alone caused me to be leery of her but the email scandal is what really made me distrust her. Her use of an external server really doesn't bother me that much. There have been others that have done the same. Was it a wise thing to do? Certainly not! Utilizing a server outside the government network poses a technological security risk at the very least. If even one work-related email passed through that system then it poses a national security risk. That can all be handled internally and might be the catalyst for a formal rule change but that wasn't my primary focus. What caused my distrust was the deletion of a large number of emails from that system after the contents were requested by the congressional committee or the FBI or whomever requested them.

For a long time after Clinton started to gain her lead, Sanders would not entertain the idea that he would not be the nominee. He was asked if he lost the nomination would he support Clinton and his response was that he did not intend to lose the nomination. He was asked if he would run as an independent and he saw no need to. At some point after Clinton "locked up" to nomination, as a result of shenanigans or not, she and Sanders must have had a meeting. I say this because almost overnight he put his support behind her and told the media that he would not run as an independent no matter the outcome. Then, in his speech at the convention, he spoke about student loan debt saying, "During the primary campaign, Secretary Clinton and I both focused on this issue but with different approaches. Recently, however, we have come together on a proposal that will revolutionize higher education in America."

I know why he did it. The Republicans are not putting forth a united front and he wants to ensure that the Democrats do. I applaud him for that and I applaud Hillary Clinton for working with Bernie Sanders to put forth a united platform. I am disappointed that Clinton's choice of running mate was not Sanders nor Elizabeth Warren but I see a high probability that Sanders will be appointed to a position in the Clinton presidency where the two collaborate. At least, that's what I hope. Either that or I see Sanders ending up in a powerful congressional position to the same effect.

So, in all likelihood, come November, I will have a megalomaniacal [insert additional negative adjectives here] oligarch on one side, an entrenched politician who even the FBI thinks is shady on the other, and candidates from whatever tangential parties may show up on the ballot. I certainly don't want Trump to be my president. Without getting too opinionated, I do not feel he represents me or my interests in any way, shape, or form and I distrust Clinton to follow through on her promises. I would like to think I would vote for one of the non-major-party candidates but I honestly fear that doing so would tilt the election in Trump's favor - and that scares the hell out of me.

I don't know who, at this point, will get my vote for president in November. The only thing I can say for certain is that I will cast my vote then hope and pray that everything turns out okay.

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