Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Thanks Bernie, and Welcome Hillary

I voted in the California primary yesterday. Did it matter? Yeah, it mattered a lot.

Yesterday was the California primary, and I voted. It had been a long time since I bothered voting in a primary, but not because I'm a political slacker. California, the nation's most populous state (with the highest number of delegates at stake by far), is always scheduled near the end of the primary cycle. By the time we get to vote, the candidates are almost always all but completely determined. But not this year. There was still a mathematical possibility that my preferred candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, could overwhelmingly win the state and potentially receive the nomination of the party.

That didn't happen, and there are plenty of people who -- having finally found a candidate who truly speaks to the issues they find important -- are going to be bitter and disappointed today. There are those who are -- quite understandably -- completely disillusioned about the entire political process. I'm not one of them. Let me explain a few things.

Take The Test
First and foremost, as difficult as it is at this juncture, try putting your perceptions aside for a moment and focus on what really matters, which are the issues. There are a number of online locations where you can take an in-depth look at each major issue facing the country today, and see which candidate is most aligned with your views. The most popular (and probable best) one is called "I Side With". Go ahead and try it out. Go in as deep as you have time for in each category. It will probably take you about 10-15 minutes. I'll wait right here.

Done? Alright, let's take a look at the results, or at least my results.

As expected for a person with a fairly liberal outlook, my candidate is and always has been Bernie Sanders, who did indeed receive my vote in the primaries. Also not surprising: as a person who finds environmental issues very important, Jill Stein of the Green Party would be a good choice for me if she were in any way electable. But look at the actual percentages. Per their stated positions that are on record, I agree with 96% of Sanders' and Stein's policy issues... and 95% of Hillary Clinton's. In other words, whether I like Clinton or not, only one percentage point separates her and Sanders regarding the only thing that actually matters: the issues and policies the next President will support.

"No Sanders? I hate Hillary! I'm going Trump!"
I'm going to tell you something: if you're one of the thankfully small number of people who would choose to vote for Donald Trump now that Bernie is out of the race, you have some serious problems. I don't mean that as an insult; I mean that you don't have an understanding of what the role of President of the United States is all about. You may have liked Bernie because of his "political outsider" status, and frankly, so did I (and still do). But the reason you vote for a POTUS is that you feel that his or her position, as the leading influencer of the direction of the country, is most closely aligned with your own beliefs. And let me ask this: if your beliefs are that closely aligned with Trump's, why were you interested in Bernie Sanders in the first place? They are extreme polar opposites in terms of how they would affect your lifestyle as an American. There's no possible way that a person with a sane, rational mind would switch to being a Trump supporter, unless they never had an understanding of what Bernie is all about. I can promise that it's not what Bernie would want, and sometime in the next short while, I suspect Bernie will directly state this as well.

So that's it? It was all for nothing?
Oh, hell no. What Bernie did was amazing. He educated a huge portion of the populace about the details of topics like income inequality, climate change, racial injustice, and treatment of LGBT people. There are literally millions of people who -- as a direct result of Bernie's message -- became politically aware and active after years and years of apathy. And guess what? Just because the general election will not have Bernie becoming the President doesn't mean that the spark he lit under millions of Americans will die out. Bernie Sanders successfully created a movement that will hold the U.S. government to higher standards at all levels. In almost all meaningful ways, his campaign was a greater success than anyone could have imagined.

I am proud that I supported Bernie, and the ideals that he championed during the campaign are those that I believe in, and will continue pushing in every way I can. But the first and foremost way I can try and ensure that the United States doesn't become some kind of dystopian nightmare and a totalitarian regime led by a sociopathic monster is by throwing my support behind Hillary Clinton. If I don't do that, I am tacitly saying that I am okay with Donald Trump, a thoroughly despicable human being whose outlook is the opposite of everything I hold true, becoming President. I will use every ounce of my small amount of influence to make sure that doesn't happen, for the sake of myself and my son and those near and dear to me.

Therefore, while I love Bernie and hope that his message reverberates for years and years to come, I am officially supporting Hillary Clinton for President of the USA in the general election. No matter what you believe about our political system, if your stance on the important issues is closer to her's than to Trump's, I highly recommend you do the same. I also encourage you to talk about this... with me, with your family, with your friends. With fellow Bernie supporters. With anyone who thinks that Trump is a better option. Your best way of making sure that Bernie's campaign wasn't for naught is to make sure that the country doesn't go in the literal opposite direction of his policies that you've supported so strongly.

Please keep that in mind come November. And, as always, thanks for reading.