What Now For Bernie’s Supporters?
Now that Hillary Clinton’s victory in the Democratic Party nomination seems all but certain, Bernie supporters must be wondering: now what? Now that their hope to have a liberal Senator make the reforms they want from inside the White House has been dashed, they may be thinking wether they should vote for Hillary in November, as much as they hate to do that or should they sit it out. How is it, they may be wondering, that they keep finding themselves in this trap and keep spinning their wheels? Is there a way to break out of the cycle of voting for a “lesser evil” Democrat in order to avoid the scary Republicans, only to end up with the same shit?
I don’t need to tell Bernie’s supporters about Hillary and her politics. Most of them already know. They know about her links to Wall Street banks and the arms manufacturers, and her support for multinational corporations from the pharmaceuticals to oil companies and others. They know about her views on neoliberal trade policy, her penchant for war and military interventions, her support for CIA coups around the world, her unconditional support for Israel’s genocide against Palestinians, her views on death penalty and criminal justice system, her support for “war on terror” and the domestic surveillance program and more.
But I don’t know if they realize that voting for the “lesser evil”, though it may seem like a harmless thing to do, does have a damaging impact on the collective psyche and mind of the voting population. I’m not against voting as a matter of principle or in all cases and I won’t tell anyone not to vote, but we must understand and be clear on what we are voting for because we just may be voting for more of what we wish to change, in which case we’re consenting to not have the change that we need and want at all. It just may be that we are led to consent to the opposite of what we believe in, through some clever political manipulation and trickery, using fear. Fear is a strong emotion that trumps the courage for achieving change and kills the burning desire in us for progress and justice. Simply put, when we vote for “the lesser evil”, we’re voting against change and against all that we stand for and believe in; it means we accept defeat, surrender and go home, to feel disillusioned and angry, without having a constructive channel for turning that anger into something constructive and positive and into change. So, how do we end up doing the opposite of what we intended to do in the first place?Why is it that we give up our desire for change and vote against our own beliefs and interests?
It happens because we’re offered only the two corporate parties, one of which specializes in catching the more conscious individuals and herding them back into the slaughterhouse. Voting for someone with whom you have big fundamental differences first of all is a betrayal of yourself and your beliefs. When you do that just to prevent her opponent from winning, you’re not voting your conscience or what you believe in; rather, you’re voting based on nothing but fear. Secondly, what voting for the “lesser evil” does is divert your energy, passion, anger and enthusiasm for change into an exercise that’s designed and bound to not affect the status quo. Thirdly, one must ask if there is enough difference between the candidates to make trading our conscience and beliefs for slightly “lesser evil” worth it. When you advocate voting for someone you consider wrong for the majority, you’d then be a hypocrite to continue to oppose and expose her, anymore. You give up the credibility of your criticism, in that case. You can’t consistently and truly oppose and expose a candidate and at the same time advocate her by voting for her. But, realistically, how much worse can Donald Trump, for example, be compared to Hillary to make it worthwhile to vote against one’s principles? Actually, I’d argue that Hillary would be worse because people are much more likely to adopt direct action and take things into their own hands, which is the only way to bring about real change, under Trump presidency than under Clinton.
So is there life after Bernie? Is there any option left that can work to bring about the reforms that we hoped Bernie would make, if he were to be elected and if he were willing and able to materialize them? Yes, actually, there are 3 options that always deliver when a liberal reformer can’t or won’t: protest, boycott and strike (PBS). A movement of persistent, protracted and national protests can bring businesses to a halt and hit the ruling class economically, while putting pressure on political leaders. Boycott of consumer goods to the extent possible can also be effective. Although we’re limited in how much we can refrain from consuming goods and services, we can minimize our consumption and that too would be a blow to the ruling class. And, finally striking at workplace in a unified and coordinated way with other workers is always an extremely potent way. too. But, I hold no illusions that all three of these are very hard to do. They’re hard because they’re effective. We may choose the method of achieving change that’s easy, but bears no fruit, or we can embark on a method that we know works, but is hard. As they say, the choice is ours.