June 8, 2016

Confessions of a Bernie Sanders Supporter on the Day After

Rondall Reynoso

Bernie1

I have to admit I found Bernie’s defeat yesterday more emotionally taxing than I expected. I think that had less to do with the pure politics of it than it had to do with how certain aspects of this campaign remind me of personal and professional challenges I’ve had over the last five years.

As I look back over the last year, Bernie has done everything I hoped he would a year ago. He has actually done more. When he joined the race I didn’t originally plan on supporting him…can you imagine an evangelical Christian supporting a socialist!?! But, I did hope he would move the conversation in a positive direction. He did that, in fact he controlled the conversation.

A year ago I had no problem supporting Hilary. So why does it sting so much now?

I don’t have the disdain for her than many Republicans seem to. I also don’t have the disdain that many #BernieorBust folks do. I do find that I trust her less than I did a year ago though. It isn’t because of the conspiracies that conservatives often cite or even the ones that liberals cite. I have been troubled when she has been asked simple questions like “Will you ever lie?” and she has not seemed able to provide a straight forward answer. Here is a funny bit about this by Stephen Colbert:
It troubles me that Hilary couldn’t just say, “I will not lie to the American people.” Her general evasiveness on a lot of issues got to me too. I know politicians do that…but she seems to do it more and it certainly contrasted starkly with Bernie Sanders.

By far the biggest issue for me has to do with campaign finance. I think money in politics is the biggest issue facing our nation. I wrote about this in my article, “Why conservatives should vote for Bernie Sanders“. Until we get control of money in politics and gerrymandering, we simply don’t have a representative democracy. That is the issue that galvanized me towards supporting Sanders. Unfortunately, that is an issue where Hilary Clinton struggles. She has bought into our current political system and relies heavily on traditional methods of financing her campaign. While she has claimed this doesn’t affect her, below is a good example from Elizabeth Warren demonstrating that it does.

The reality is that we are all human. These sorts of things affect us. Even if nothing else, someone donating large sums money does allow greater access and good will.

Then there is the issue of the Wall Street speeches. I understand that many on the speaking tour get paid very large sums to speak. That is fine. But, at the same time lets not pretend that someone paying us hundreds of thousands of dollars doesn’t affect how we think of them. Again, this is all fine but what concerns me is Hilary’s unwillingness to release the speeches. There were reports that she heavily praised the banks on Wall Street in them. If so, that directly undermines her stated position, during the campaign, that the banks fear her. If the reports are false simply releasing the speeches would clear this up, but, instead she has chosen to continue hiding them. This only adds to the feeling that she says one thing to moneyed interests behind closed doors and another when campaigning to middle class America. Again, we are accustomed to politicians doing this sort of thing, but, this raises questions in my mind about if she will deal with what I view as our nation’s major challenge- money in politics.

My biggest concern about Hilary though doesn’t come from her. It comes from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the media. The following issues don’t demonstrate that Hilary is dishonest, though they could signify that she has bought into our current political system and they remind me of just how broken that system is. From the very beginning of the campaign the DNC has seemingly done everything they can to steer the election in Hilary’s favor. In some ways it is understandable, She is a long time insider and Bernie is an outsider Independent who is running as a Democrat because in our system a third-party candidate doesn’t really stand a chance. The DNC is supposed to be impartial and yet I don’t think they have been. Further, they quietly repealed all the rules that Obama put in place to control in influx of lobyist money into the system demonstrating that the DNC is as beholden to the moneyed interests as the RNC and from my perspective the respective parties are equally a part of the problem.

Maybe the biggest problem to me has been the media bias in this election. Trump is great for ratings so they continue to cover him and, to their shame, helped propel him to victory, however Hilary has also been their darling. To me, the most striking example has been how they have reported the Super Delegates this campaign cycle. In politics, the narrative is important. Momentum is important. Like it or not how the race is covered is going to affect how people vote. In years past we knew about the Super Delegates and they were mentioned as important but they were never included in the total delegate counts. So when, before the Iowa Caucus Hilary is seen as already having a 400+ delegate lead it affects how people vote. When Bernie wins the vote in a state but it gets reported that he lost, it affects the narrative.

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So yes, Hilary supporters and TV pundits are correct that Hilary was the clear winner in the popular vote, but, that fails to deal with the issue. How much has the fact that the media has been reporting that she had an insurmountable lead since before a single vote was cast affected the voting? I don’t know the answer to that, though I think it is a real problem that is negatively affecting our republic. Why has the media done this? Some point out the large contributions Hilary has received from media companies. That may be it. Or, it could be that they really like reporting on the making of history as they got to do eight years ago with President Obama and maybe they really want to do it again this year. I don’t know. Still, I have become concerned about the amount of influence the media has not just it reporting the story but in crafting it.

This all has me rather disturbed about the state of the DNC and our political process in general. I hear Hilary supporters often talk about Bernie supporters as if they are spoiled children who refuse to play by the rules. I think that is an unfair characterization. I do think it is correct that many Bernie supporters feel the rules aren’t fair, not just the DNC rules but the hidden rules of money and power. These are issues that many Hilary supporters and TV pundits don’t seem to understand. They are approaching this campaign as if it will follow the typical rules of the past and Bernie supporters will act like Hilary supporters did in 2008, by casting their votes for the party nominee. What they don’t appear to understand is that what is really being questioned are the rules, the system itself.

“The hidden rules of money and power.” That is what gets me in this election, I think. That is why yesterday was an emotional day for me. I have  personally dealt with issues over the last several years where power, often wielded behind the scenes, was what that mattered more than character or truth. Seeeing what appears to be the same devices reflected in our political system hurts.

So what am I going to do? There are many Bernie supporters who will not support Hilary no matter what (the pundits just don’t get this). They feel that they are voting their conscience. I respect that. I empathize with it. But, it isn’t where I am. I guess the easiest way to say it is that my #NeverTrump is stronger than my #BernieorBust. I can’t imagine an America that is led by Trump. So, I will cautiously support Hilary, though, if she will be the clear winner in California I may write in a candidate not in protest of Hilary but in protest of our entire system.

I also will continue to advocate for one of the primary values of the Bernie’s campaign- fighting against the corrupting influence of money in our system. It doesn’t speak well of our system that the two candidates with the highest unfavorable ratings are the ones that got the nominations. We have the so-called outsider versus the insider. In this case, I will support the insider, despite my huge misgivings about the system, because the so-called outsider is dangerous.

The system must change. We are losing our voices. Maybe they are already lost…if so we need to get them back.

Rondall Reynoso


Rondall is an artist, scholar, and speaker. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Lee University in Cleveland, TN. He holds an MFA in Painting and an MS in Art History from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY and is completing a Ph.D. in Art History and Aesthetics from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA.

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  • What’s great about this post is that you can relate to everything you wrote about from the perspective of a real life personal experience.

    We share similar views on this: I also don’t have the same hatred for Hillary as many others; not releasing her speeches concerns me very much; and the actions of the DNC are also among my biggest concerns. Here’s my pedestrian view on why I think they have behaved in the manner they have been for the last several months….

    Long, long, long before the official start of the primaries Clinton was basically the “anointed one,” or as you put it the media’s “darling.” There was no other name out there as popular as hers to be the next Democratic candidate. And although I don’t have any evidence to back this up, I just can’t help but to feel that at some point over the last couple of years Clinton was GUARANTEED by the current administration to be the nominee in ’16. If this indeed is the case it was done for two reasons: A) to soothe over all the hurt feelings from the ’08 campaign, and B) the party had NO idea that there was a Sanders out there somewhere, so there was no risk in making those promises. I think his emergence completely took the party by surprise and then “oh shit, we need to fix this because we promised Hillary this, that, and the other.” I really hate to sound like a conspiracy theory type of person, but I think those promises being challenged by the Sanders campaign led up to some shady things going on during various primary/caucus days. The New York/Arizona elections and the Nevada state convention debacles both come to mind.

    I think it’s important to note why Sanders became so popular (and I fully admit, these are mostly generalizations). For the last twenty or thirty years Americans on the left side of politics have always heard and talked about how things are done in Europe, specifically in the matters of healthcare and social programs. When European countries were faced with challenges in their societies they seemed to find a way to deal with it in a way that would make most everyone happy. In the meantime, here in America, solving social/economic problems comes to us about as easy as being able to see beyond the event horizon of a black hole. Problems with poverty, access to healthcare, upward mobility, and a number of many other things seem to persist no matter what we do. The thing is, we’ve never really given these “socialist” ideas a fair shake in this country, and many Americans wonder why we haven’t, given that some of these programs seem to be successful in other developed countries around the world. So it’s no wonder that Sanders gained popularity so quickly when he started his campaign by suggesting that we try some of these other ideas from around the globe. I think Sanders’s popularity also has to do with the fact that some people, like myself, feel that Obama didn’t go far enough to the left as we had hoped he would (GITMO still open, no Wall Street shakeup), and that Hillary would probably be pretty much the same. So, again, the DNC says “oh shit people actually DO want to go more to the left, but we promised Hillary etc etc.” Thus, again, they felt compelled to manipulate the system/media as they saw fit in order to keep those promises.

    What will I do on election day? I was communicating with a woman that I met at our county convention. Before the state convention here in Nevada she had been a hard line Democrat all her life. A real party loyalist. But after the state convention she was pretty shook up and felt disenfranchised with the Democratic party. I asked her if her experience there had turned her to a Bernie-or-Buster. This question was important because at a group dinner about a month previous she had expressed that she would support the nominee even if it wasn’t Bernie. But now?….. She basically said she didn’t know what she would do. She was really pissed off about the whole situation. I admitted to her that as much as I would love to consider myself to be a Bernie-or-Buster, I honestly couldn’t say what my actions will be on election day in November. Trump has the bajeezus scared outta me, and I worry that if I vote for a third-party candidate then my vote will basically just be a vote for Trump. If I do vote third party, it will be Jill Stein. It would certainly satisfy my conscious, but that aside, my third party vote wouldn’t so much be a vote against Trump or Clinton, but more of a vote against the system in general.

    I know Hillary has her problems, but it’s hard to know if some of those are actual or perceived. I do wonder, though, if maybe she’s one of those people that has had to do some evil in order to do some good. I also think that she will be a very tough and fierce president if elected. I just hope that those virtues are used to side with the citizens more than they are for going to war or something like that. And, if anything, the movement created by Sanders has (hopefully) pushed the party more to the left. He’s made the population more aware of certain things, and that awareness is not going to go away now after everything he has done. And considering how popular he is with the younger people in this country, and that soon it will be their turn to take the reigns, it’s only a matter of time before some serious changes for the better are made in this country. Hopefully we’ll see the dismantling of the two-party system we have now, or at the very least two NEW and IMPROVED parties!

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