Last April I declared that “I voted for Bernie in the primaries, and I’m voting for him again in November. No matter who the “official” candidates are.” Now that the primaries are over, and the candidates are official, it’s time for us Bernie supporters to sit down, assess the situation, and ask a couple very important questions.
The first question is, “Are we going to give up now that Hillary has won?” If so, then fine, let’s take our ball and go home, and vote for Bernie, or Jill, or nobody. We tried to make the world a better place, and we failed, so the hell with it all.
But if we’re not giving up—as I am not giving up—then we need to ask the second and even more important question: under which presidency will we be better able to pursue our struggle and build an even stronger base for the next campaign?
Bernie fell short because, while he generated an amazing amount of grassroots support, all that support was focused on the presidential race. Hillary won because she had the support of the political infrastructure that exists between the grass roots and the White House. (And yes that includes all the dark money, which is a separate and equally important problem.) Our next goal should be to take control of that political infrastructure. We need true progressives on all the committees and holding offices at the local and state level, so that our voice is heard and respected, and we didn’t have that this time.
But will we ever achieve that? Possibly. Hopefully. But if the country swings as far to the right as Trump is planning to take us, it will be a lot harder. We know the next president will put at least one Supreme Court justice on the bench, and could conceivably put 3. And remember, Trump has said he thinks the Geneva Convention is outdated, and that the US should employ the worst imaginable forms of torture. He thinks Tiananmen Square is an example of how a “strong” government ought to handle dissidents. His mere candidacy has revitalized neo-Nazi white supremacist groups, and given them an increasingly vocal presence in our politics.
I’ll give Hillary her due, she’s worked hard to be where she is and she has done a lot of good things, but I don’t trust her. I think she’s in Wall Street’s pocket, and Wall Street is evil in a lot of ways, and we need to keep fighting them. But that’s a known battle. Wall Street isn’t going to want America to turn into a fascist dictatorship either, so Hillary won’t be making those kinds of changes, which means we can continue to fight and to make progress on the same terms.
With Trump all bets are off. I don’t actually think he’d be another Hitler, because I don’t think he has Hitler’s political ambitions. He has as much as declared that he wants his VP to take care of all the actual political work because he’s not interested. He wants the fame and the power, but not the actual chores.
On the other hand, that may make him even more dangerous, because that means he’s going to let his henchmen do all the actual work. And so far, he’s shown himself to be more than willing to recruit racists, right-wing fundamentalists, science-deniers, historical revisionists, and on and on, as his surrogates and thought leaders.
Could the people of Germany in the 1930’s have had any idea how things were going to turn out under Hitler? I don’t know, but I think we have as much information now as they did then, plus the benefit of hindsight. I’m still not a Hillary fan, but I think Bernie did the right thing by endorsing her, and I’m going to give her my vote, not because I want her to have it but because I want to be absolutely sure Trump does not get the benefit of it.