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 that 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 straightforward 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 toward 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. The reality is that we are all human. These sorts of things affect us. Even if nothing else, someone donating large sums of money does allow greater access and goodwill.
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 let’s 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 for 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 it 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 an influx of lobbyist 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.
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 mattered more than character or truth. Seeing 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 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.