Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bernie or Bust?

Hello, Dear Journal.  It's been a while. I've been busy. And when I've not been busy, I've been lazy, I guess.

So, here we are. After a long, hard-fought primary season, we’re at the Democratic National Convention. And now the truth of this campaign season is finally starting to come out: We all know the system is rigged, in the larger economic sense.
But so is the Democratic Party.

Of course, some of us knew and recognized this from the start. Some of us have seen it for years. A lot of Democrats, however, have had their heads buried in the sand. Or they didn’t care, because it benefitted their agenda, or candidate. Or, perhaps they didn’t see it as making much of a difference, “So long as a Democrat wins in the end.”

But I’m here to tell you it does make a difference, and it should matter to every American, whether Democrat, Republican, or otherwise engaged.

Just let me state up front, that I’m one of those people who gets really upset at injustice. It doesn’t have to affect me for it to piss me off, either.

I’m white, but I get upset over racial issues. I can’t help but get angry as hell when an unarmed black man gets gunned down by police for no reason. I am angry at the lack of opportunity that people of color are given in this country.

I’m a man, but I get upset when I see women being treated unfairly. I don’t want to see women treated as second-class citizens, being paid far less than men doing the same work. I get pissed when a woman is blamed for her own rape, or when women’s reproductive rights are diminished.

I’m straight, but I get upset over LGBT issues. I’m angry that in most states in this country a person can be fired simply for being gay. And I cheered and celebrated the day that the Obergefell decision was announced.

The list of social injustices that boil my blood could go on for a long, long time, but I think I’ve made my point. These things make me angry and sad, whether they affect me directly or not. 

But now we come to our democratic rights.

When I see someone’s Democratic rights being trampled, I get angry. The United States is supposed to be a Democratic Republic. Every vote should count equally. Of course, the argument can be made that the Democratic and Republican Parties are actually private organizations, and make their own rules regarding how they select candidates for office. This is technically true, but the two major parties, despite being private “clubs” of a sort, get plenty of public assistance. The Primary Process is overseen by government officials, and a good deal of public funding and resources are involved in the business of running Primaries and Caucuses.

So, when they set forth rules, I believe they should be held accountable for abiding by them. I also believe the DNC should be held accountable when using tactics that they would condemn the RNC for using.

The Clinton campaign had arranged for super delegates to commit to them before any regular voters had ever cast a ballot, and the media counted them from the start, as part of the process of creating a narrative of Mrs. Clinton’s inevitability. Early on in this cycle, it became very clear, very quickly, that the DNC had planned on simply anointing Hillary Clinton as the Party Nominee, with as little fuss as possible. I know a lot of you Hillary supporters argued against that reality, but with the DNC e-mail leaks, we now have solid proof that this was the case. So, right from the start, Bernie Sanders had the deck stacked against him.

Let’s add to that all of the irregularities that cropped up during the course of the campaign. There were too few polling stations in many states. In several major states, people were mistakenly thrown off the voter rolls, or had their party affiliation changed without their consent. It’s been discovered that large numbers of ballots have been destroyed without being counted. Poll workers were given incorrect information about how to handle issues that arose. Polling places were illegally blocked by campaigners in a couple of states.

And in nearly every one of these cases, oddly enough, the same specific candidate was harmed by these events. Care to guess which one?

And I’m not even diving into the media collusion, and the over-blown stories that tried to paint all of Bernie’s supporters an angry, misogynistic, violent mob.

As Democrats, do you remember how angry you were in 2000 when the Supreme Court handed the election to George W. Bush? This is how the Bernie supporters feel right now. We watched the best, clearest example of a truly progressive candidate we’ve seen in our lifetimes get piled on by a party machine that was rigged from the start.

And despite all of that, look how close we came! We are all left asking ourselves what would have happened, if there had been a level playing-field? What if there had been debates early on? What if the media hadn’t been so busy covering Donald Trump’s every utterance or even his empty podium, while ignoring speeches by other candidates? What if Bernie had had proper exposure from the start? What if everyone who was entitled to vote was allowed to, and had all of their votes counted from the start? How much earlier would Bernie have gained momentum?

Given the way things went, it’s very easy to feel that not only was the system rigged, but the nomination was outright stolen.

I ask again, do you remember how angry you were in 2000 when the election was stolen by Bush’s cronies? How long did it take you to get over that? How eager were you to get behind W, before 9/11? How receptive were you to the “It’s done. He won. Grow up and get over it” arguments? (Especially considering, as it turned out, he didn’t even win?)

So, here we are. After a long, hard-fought primary season, on the cusp of Hillary Clinton’s nomination. How are we supposed to feel about that? 

If Bernie had lost in a fair election process, that would be simple. We’d have to get over it. In politics, as in life, there are winners and losers. When you lose, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on to the next contest. When you lose within a party nominating process, you get behind the candidate who won, even if you don’t care much for him or her, because the other party is generally a worse option in your estimation. (And this year, the GOP has given us nothing but nightmares as alternatives!)

But what if you didn’t lose fair and square? What if you believe your candidate not only should have won, but probably would have won, if the game had been fair from the start?

I can guarantee, no one who feels they have been cheated is eager to support the person or the organization who cheated them. This is what there are so many “Bernie or Bust” voters out there. It’s not petulance, or misogyny, or naïveté, or having been sold a bill of goods by a ridiculous right-wing conspiracy machine. It’s an angry unwillingness to reward those who rigged the game! 

I do NOT want to vote for Hillary Clinton, because I do NOT want to reward this kind of behavior! I do not want to reward injustice! 

Remember the old adage about how cheaters never prosper? Like most people, I figured out that was bullshit by the time I was in high school. Still, I want to get as close as possible to a world where that adage is true. And that’s never going to happen, as long as cheaters not only aren’t held accountable, but are rewarded for their bad behavior. I expect this is where most the Bernie or Bust crowd is sitting right now.

As for me, I’m a bigger picture thinker. I know the die is cast, the deal is done, and the system was rigged to get us here, but then, what are my options?

If the GOP were the moderate party it once was, I would have considered voting Republican for the first time in my life, but they went off the deep end decades ago, and this year’s crop of hopefuls was the most heinous in History. I could NEVER vote for Trump, obviously. And I could never vote for Pence, either, Both of these men disgust me.

I’ve considered voting for Jill Stein, and if the polls on November 8th show one party way ahead in Ohio, I will probably do just that.

See, a lot of Bernie supporters can’t get past feeling cheated. So they are like as not to go Third Party or even stay at home on Election Day. I can’t say I blame them. No, I sympathize with them. In fact, there’s a small part of me that would almost laugh to see Trump win, just to teach the DNC cronies a lesson!

But I could never do that to my country. I could never inflict a Trump Presidency on the world.

So, if the polls are close in Ohio, as they are very likely to be, I will hold my nose and vote for Hillary Clinton, just as I’ve had to hold my nose in the past, when I voted for Bill Clinton, or John Kerry.

But the day after election Day 2016? Well, that’s a different story. Unless there are major, substantive changes to the party, I’m done with the Democrats. And I mean REAL changes, not shuffling crooked party operatives around like deck chairs on the Titanic. I don’t expect this to happen, though.

No, I expect we’ll get business as usual from the Party and from the Clinton Administration. (Or worse, if it's a Trump Administration.)

Which means it’ll be time for me to tell this bullshit Two-Party System to go fuck itself, and officially join the Greens.