Well, I never thought that Facebook warring would be productive, but here I am writing this late at night after some challenging conversations. After a week of switching between grieving and sparring on social media, I’m beginning to gain some clarity (or, I’m post-rationalizing to the max. I’m never quite sure which it is). I offer you my humble perspective on the DNC this week:
From what I’ve gathered, Clinton supporters are scared shitless about Donald Trump, and they have been for a while. They’ve been waiting for Bernie to wrap up his campaign, because they feel that his voters would have united behind Clinton much sooner than now had he dropped out in April. Some are compassionate towards those reacting to the recent loss; others less so, but they are still worried about people coming to terms with the end so close to the general.
Also, there are many Clinton supporters who really admire her and see her as a hero. Some love her, I might add, in the same way that we love Bernie. They are thrilled to have their nominee, but they’ve been concerned about the unjustified and sometimes aggressive vilification of their candidate by some Bernie supporters throughout the primary.
Having been a Sanders supporter and volunteer myself, I will offer the alternative perspective, which is that the status quo scares the shit out of Sanders supporters. Many Sanders supporters feel that Clinton is a paradigm of the status quo; some feel that she is worse. Some slowly grew to dislike her just this year because the media, the DNC, and some supporters would consistently ignore, belittle, and lie about us, to her benefit. All grew tired of being told Bernie couldn’t win and that he should drop out from the start. And, because Sanders volunteers worked their asses off without any compensation (and while losing money, in many cases) to power an entirely grassroots campaign, each jab, and his eventual loss, felt increasingly painful.
These are both valid perspectives. I believe they both carry truth. But now that Hillary is the nominee, one has to ask: Why does the status quo scare the shit out of Sanders supporters? Because they wouldn’t be protesting at the DNC or considering a [strategic] third-party vote if it didn’t.
That status quo is scary because the median wage has steadily dropped since 2000, while CEO pay has skyrocketed exponentially. Because many of us are, as I wrote to someone on Facebook earlier this week, struggling to make ends meet, confronted with the suffering of homelessness every day, and feeling powerless in the wake of rapid climate change. Because millennials (and their parents) can’t really afford college, can’t afford to own property in record rates, can barely afford to pay rent in many cases, and are marrying later and later, partially as a result of financial insecurity. Because the TPP is going to strengthen patent laws on pharmaceutical products and allow corporations to sue the government millions in tax dollars for protecting workers’ and environmental rights. Because many of us have known for so long how messed up the system is, and how badly it needs to improve, and have felt powerless to do anything about our own struggles, until now.
Some of you reading this may not be confronting these harsh realities daily, but many others (like myself, living in San Francisco as not-a-techie) certainly are. We are deeply worried about the trajectory of our economy and our environment, given the downward trend that the status quo has drawn. Bernie rallied the people like no other campaign before him with a vision of creating the swift change that we so desperately need. But then, he lost, and we became terrified of the status quo slowly destroying our futures once again.
I understand that Donald Trump is a menace to this country and he would do irreparable damage to the Supreme Court. He is unlike any candidate for President anyone has ever seen. And after November, we have some real thinking to do about who we allow a platform as large as the presidential race.
For now though, I have a lot of hope that we can all find common ground going into November (fear seems to be one thing we already share in common). Specifically, I think Sanders supporters need Clinton supporters to indicate: we hear you. We understand your struggle. We’re not down with the status quo, we’re not down with our failing democracy, and we understand how urgent it is that we all work together to lobby Washington to make change happen sooner, because there is too much suffering in this country to carry on with politics as usual. Of course, it’s even more urgent is that we elect Clinton, and not Trump, to the presidency. And if you work with us to do that, we’ll work with you beyond that.
In my mind, finding this common ground on the issues sounds simple, given that they affect all of us in the end. But as Robert Reich would say, what do you think?