Since the beginning of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, people have been rallying for a movement they call “Bernie or Bust” – the idea that if Bernie Sanders was not the democratic nominee, supporters of the movement should opt out of voting in the General Election. Advocates of the movement claim that since Bernie was, in their view, the best candidate, there shouldn’t be anyone different in the Oval Office come January. The passion and determination is admirable, but the movement itself is terrifying.
What Does Bernie Stand For?
As a supporter of his campaign since its beginnings, I pride myself on knowing where Sanders stands on every issue, especially social. Social issues are the most important in a community, because they lay the foundations for all other aspects – economic, education, etc. Even environmental issues take the back burner to social, because how can we protect the planet if we can’t work together to do so?
On social issues, Bernie has stood with Black Lives Matter, even giving up the stage to members of the association to let them speak to his crowds. Back in his college days, Bernie participated in the Civil Rights Movement, even joining Martin Luther King, Jr., in the March on Washington. He has spoken on the subject of police brutality multiple times, calling for a huge regime change, and the use of body cameras by law enforcement officers.
Bernie is also an LGBT+ ally who strongly supports the rights of the community to legally marry, and of transgender people to take whatever measures they feel they should in order to feel comfortable (Eg. Not being forced into a restroom they aren’t comfortable being in). He is pro-choice, and one of the best examples of a male feminist out there. He believes every person on the planet should have access to education, and that income should not prevent that. Bernie is about as far left as they come – so much so that even the Democratic National Committee wasn’t liberal enough for him, so up until his presidential bid, he was an Independent.
Why the DNC?
Bernie put his name on the ballot as a democrat because he knew – as does everyone in the country – that someone ballsy enough to challenge Hillary Clinton was bound to get attention. Although he is so incredibly humble, Sanders wanted attention – not for himself, but for the people his “Revolution” represents. He succeeded in his main goal, which was not to win the presidency, but instead bring light to the issues that so desperately need to be talked about. He was openly critical of various things that other candidates wouldn’t dream of speaking badly of, and he was unapologetically bold in doing so. Issues such as free healthcare, affordable college, and problems within the DNC would never have been discussed in mainstream media had Bernie not brought them to light. Even if you don’t agree with his principles, you have to give the guy credit.
He was never in this for himself. He was in this race as a person who cares deeply about the United States, about the future of the nation, and about each and every single person residing in the US. Where candidates like Trump only cared about recognition and attention, Sanders was immensely humble, and fought not for himself, but for the rights of the people in his country. Those are the qualities a good leader should demonstrate.
Dedication in this Election
With Bernie’s values in mind, it should be noted that his supporters are largely an extremely kind and accepting group of people. Trump rallies are often filled with hatred and violence, where Sanders rallies are filled with positivity and love, and most importantly, hope. Based on this premise, it makes sense that his supporters are as passionate as he is. At face value, Bernie or Bust is compelling, and seems to fall perfectly in line with Bernie’s own values.
The problem with this is that it is simply at face value. Taking the movement the way most people do, it is a group of supporters who feel so strongly about Bernie becoming president that they will fight until the bitter end, and won’t support anyone else in an attempt to showcase their devotion to Bernie and make a point about the other candidates – a point many of us already understand. In any other election, this would’ve been an honourable move. Bernie would be praising these people for their endless support and passion, and we could all move on happily.
But this is the 2016 election.
Things are vastly different this year than they have been in any other election – majorly due to Donald Trump’s campaign. Any real Bernie supporter would understand that Trump is an incredibly dangerous – and incredibly real – threat to everything that, ironically, makes America great, and we must do everything in our power to prevent him from winning the election. As Bernie has shown for the past month, we should be unified in our fight against Trump, and we must vote for Hillary.
The Problems With Bernie or Bust
When I was growing up, my grandad always used to say, “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.” This is something that has stuck with me through the years, and if it were possible for me to vote in the US elections, I would participate in anything that concerns me. If Bernie or Bust participants do as they have threatened to do and abstain from voting, and Trump does win, it comes back on them. I hate to say it, but they have no right to complain about it if they didn’t do whatever they could to prevent it from happening. People will look back on the Bernie or Bust movement with hostility, knowing that had this group voted, a Trump presidency could have been avoided.
The uncontested biggest issue with Bernie or Bust, however, is that it goes against every single one of Bernie’s own values. If Trump becomes president, the only real group of people who will not be harmed will be straight, white, cissexual Christian men of American descent. Black Lives Matter? Not to Trump – and seemingly not to Bernie or Bust supporters. Opting out of voting is something only privileged people can do safely, as they are much less likely to be harmed by Trump’s leadership. The Muslims and immigrants Bernie has fought so hard to protect will likely be deported and abused, and the women Bernie has stood up for will be shamed and stripped of their rights. Members of the LGBT+ community will be ridiculed, and Trump will likely do what he can to prevent them from obtaining marriage licenses (He’s expressed his enthusiasm to overturn the Supreme Court decision). All in all, the very people Bernie has worked all this time to help, protect, and honour will be the ones harmed by the Bernie or Bust movement.
Although the determination is honourable, the movement itself is scary. The very foundation of Bernie or Bust is supporting his values, yet goes against all of them. Bernie himself has stated that he is not with the movement – so why are they still fighting?