Why This Sanders Supporter Backs Hillary Clinton for President

First, if I may, a couple of bona fides.  I have been a supporter of Bernie Sanders since I first voted for him for congress when I still lived in Vermont in 1990.  When he came to Iowa City on a book tour and to test the presidential waters, I stood up in Prairie Lights and strongly urged him to run and to run as a Democrat.  When he announced, I immediately volunteered as a precinct captain.  I became a county, district, and state delegate for the Bernie Sanders for President campaign and worked hard to get him nominated.

But then he lost the nomination.  Hillary Clinton won.

I know that there are many of my fellow “Berners” (as we are apparently being called over my strong objections) who have planted themselves in the #NeverHillary camp.  Nearly all the ones I know have decided to back Green Party nominee Jill Stein.  And a handful has gone over to the Libertarians’ Gary Johnson.  An overwhelming majority of Sen. Sanders’ supporters, however, have chosen as I have and in fact as he himself has, to support Secretary Hillary Clinton for President.

Those of us who supported Sen. Sanders did so for many reasons, and if we had seen everything to like and nothing to dislike about Sec. Clinton and her positions, we’d have naturally backed her instead.  Of course, if that were true then Sen. Sanders likely would not have run in the first place.

Bernie Sanders set a spark that ignited a revolution.  The progressive movement has not seen this level of activism and support for nearly a century.  There is nothing in American politics more important right now than to see the Political Revolution Sen. Sanders awakened continue.  With Sec. Clinton as president, that revolution can continue to grow.  With Donald Trump in the White House, there is zero chance of success for a generation or more.

Mr. Trump is a dangerous, unqualified, misogynist, racist, authoritarian con-man of a clinical narcissist with delusions of Berlusconi.  His thin skin and hair-trigger reaction to criticism demonstrate his total lack of diplomatic skills.  He claims his business acumen is what qualifies him for the job, but the government must never be “run like a business,” because its goals are completely different.  A business’s sole purpose is to create profit for its owners.  A government’s job is to serve and to protect.  Even if his business experience were relevant, if he had taken his inheritance and simply invested it all in index funds, he’d be three-times as wealthy now as he is today with all his existing assets. 

He chastises our allies and emboldens our enemies.  He speaks with bravado about employing nuclear first strikes, about torturing prisoners, and about targeting terrorists’ families.  He is a war-criminal in waiting bent on watching the world burn.  Here are 176 footnoted and documented reasons to oppose his candidacy.  He must be stopped, and at this point, only Hillary Clinton can realistically do that.

I admire Dr. Stein.  She is obviously a very smart person, and her heart and ideas are in the right place.  That said however, she is completely unqualified for the office.  She has been a vocal advocate for progressive causes for quite some time, that’s true.  However, her only applicable experience in governing is one-and-a-half terms on the lily-white Lexington, MA, town council.  In my line of work, that’s the equivalent of a person who has worked for a few months as a dish steward applying for the Executive Chef job at the Ritz Carlton.  Dr. Stein faces the same odds of winning the presidency as that steward does of becoming the chef.  A lot more is needed between the two posts.

The Green Party would do well to sign on to the approach of Senator Sanders’ new “Our Revolution” organization, whose goal is to recruit, train, and get elected Sanders-style progressives up and down the ticket.  A grass-roots party should start at the grass roots.

Governor Gary Johnson speaks often about his 2 terms as a Republican Governor of a “blue” state, a trait he shares with his running mate, William Weld of Massachusetts.  Plenty of tickets have been elected with that kind of experience.  Yet one need only scratch the surface of their Libertarian-Populist message to find some deeply troubling aspects (at least for progressives).  He wants to privatize Social Security.  He advocates for an excruciatingly regressive tax system.  He hedges on the reality of anthropogenic global warming.  He supports the TPP and Citizens United.  He has only a couple positions any progressive could favor, such as reducing overseas military presence and his opposition to the “war on drugs,” yet he presided over the construction of two private prisons while Governor of New Mexico.  A long but abridged list of reasons not to support him is here. He is a non-starter for any center-left observer.

Libertarian philosophy, when boiled down to its essence, is right-wing conservatism without the burden of faux-Christian fundamentalism.  Both ideologies, at their core, amount to simply, “I’ve got mine, screw you.”

Secretary Clinton’s experience, on the other hand, is both broad and deep.  She understands policy and how to work with congress.  She has elucidated 40 fully-formed policy positions – and that’s just the ones on the campaign website.  By comparison, Mr. Trump’s site lists nine, and he’s wrong on each and every one of those.  She supports many of Sen. Sanders’ positions, and the Democratic platform he helped mold is the strongest and most progressive of my lifetime: Universal health care, paid family and medical leave, Labor rights, LGBTQ+ rights, support for tuition-free colleges, for overturning the worst Supreme Court decision since Dred Scott (Citizens United), expanding disability rights, protecting Social Security, increasing taxes on the very wealthy, social justice, and sensible gun safety measures, to name but a few.

Even if you hold a grudge against her, even if you disagree with her positions on this issue or that one, any person who calls themselves anything other than the staunchest of authoritarian conservatives – and maybe even them too – must acknowledge that Secretary Clinton is the best-qualified person in the race.  Senator Sanders said so himself, and is urging his own followers to support her (which is something he promised from the beginning, to support the nominee).  If we supported Bernie then, we should support him now.  We must elect Hillary Clinton president, then set about continuing the Political Revolution by pushing the progressive agenda and by electing Sanders-style progressives at every level of government.

The future of our Republic hangs in the balance.