Thursday, June 2, 2016

Bernie or Bust

This Woodchuck whistles for Bernie all day long! But I’m not sure if I am Bernie or Bust.

Let me be very clear about the jingle “Bernie or Bust”, I find that those who identify themselves as Bernie or Bust do not all mean the same thing and that those who hear the phrase do not all hear the same thing. Using the phrase to identify committed supporters of Bernie Sanders for President may have negative consequences for our relationship with individuals and groups that do understand its meaning differently than intended.

I will support Bernie Sanders to be the Democratic Party candidate for President of the United States with my voice and, as a delegate to the national convention, my vote until the Convention has nominated its candidate.

Whether Bernie Sanders gets the nomination or not I will work after the convention to keep the spirit of the political revolution alive and to revitalize the democratic process beginning within the Democratic Party.

I support the Brand New Congress initiative that is being spearheaded by some former Bernie 2016 staffers and I am quietly working with some Bernie 2016 supporters here in Michigan to start something we are for the moment calling “A Michigan We Can Believe In”.

I believe that Bernie Sanders has said that he has no plans to run as an Independent or as a third party candidate for president and I do not support efforts to persuade him to do so or to write his name in on the General Election ballot. 

We can do so much more within the Democratic Party to revitalize the democratic process than we can ever hope to do as Independents or as a third party. The Democratic Party is a Big Tent. The door is open and there is lots of room in the tent.

It is my opinion that Bernie 2016 supporters will be much more effective social revolutionaries inside the Democratic Party than they would be outside of it. It is also my opinion that the energy spent forming a third party or marshalling a write-in campaign would be better spent laying a foundation for a truly progressive movement within the Democratic Party that would push out the worst and keep the best of what the Democratic Party is.

But let’s be fair, Bernie supporters are not all Democrats. His support base includes many passionate people who have no party affiliation and I don’t see any reason why they would feel the same way about supporting the political revolution from within the party.

And let’s not talk about Hillary Clinton and supporting or opposing her until after the convention. She is not the candidate and there is still a path to victory for Bernie Sanders. Hillary supporters should work to persuade Bernie supporters that she is a good second choice instead of working to shame Bernie supporters who continuing to oppose her nomination. And Bernie supporters should focus on promoting Bernie Sanders and his progressive message instead of obsessing over Hillary.

Should Hillary Clinton become the nominee, I understand that many Bernie Sanders supporters will not be able to give her their allegiance. I’m OK with that. The Big Tent is filled with Democrats who are not able to agree on every candidate and every issue. My own position is that I will not actively or publicly oppose the nominee of the party or any of its endorsed candidates or issues and I am not asking others who support Bernie Sanders to take any position stronger than that.

Again, let’s be fair, many Bernie Sanders supporters are not affiliated with the Democratic Party and shouldn’t feel any sense of duty to support or even refrain from opposing Hillary Clinton if she should become the candidate of the party.

Bernie Sanders has asked us for so much more than the nomination of the Democratic Party to be its candidate. It has never really been about Bernie, it has always been about the political revolution. When we say Bernie or Bust, let’s be sure that we are on the same page as Bernie and that revitalizing democracy is our single highest priority and that nominating Bernie and others with the same passionate views to be our candidates is just one of many important steps in achieving that goal.

If some supporters feel that they must take the political revolution outside the Democratic Party, that they need Bernie to be their candidate so they can keep the political revolution alive and strong or that they must oppose Hillary Clinton to the bitter end, I understand but I am not one of them … and I don’t think Bernie is either.