As I mentioned when first starting this blog, I intend to use this space primarily as a venue for the discussion of my work, the writing process, and the publishing industry at large – but I did also warn you that occasionally I would venture off course into topics like politics and world events. This is one such post. (Sorry!) In light of yesterday’s results in FL, NC, OH, IL, and MO, I find myself prompted to share some commentary on the presidential primaries here in the United States. I think it offers some important perspective for those of us who lean left – and as for everyone else… well, I’ll have more on high fantasy and how I pursue my writing shortly, I promise.
As any of you who follow me on Twitter know, my politics are fairly progressive, and consequently, as you might imagine, I am somewhat disappointed with the results last night (though I understand why Ohio Independents and Democrats who crossed over voted the way that they did). In my opinion a Clinton nomination is now a foregone conclusion. Even so, I believe the primary process continues to be vitally important this election cycle, and though I am discouraged that it appears my candidate will not win, I am determined to continue to remain engaged until the end. So, in keeping with this position – and in light of the newly clarified lay of the land – I offer a couple of thoughts on the journey that is to follow over the next eight months:
1) Despite the seeming impossibility of pulling out a win, Sanders must stay in the race all the way to the convention (which I fully expect him to do). His presence a) continues to pull Clinton to the left, b) makes her a better candidate for the general election, c) allows him to extract policy concessions/position appointments from her, and d) most importantly, continues the conversation on progressive issues. Bernie has started a grassroots movement, and though a loss now looks inevitable, he has three months left to continue to advance it; every day he has in the spotlight is a day he can – and should – use to spread that message for the future. (Also, and I am NOT rooting for this, as I think it will only serve to weaken the eventual candidate on the left should it come to pass, but as a practical matter he must stay involved until we know definitively that Hillary will not be indicted.)
2) I will still vote for Sanders in NY come next month’s primary, and encourage all his other supporters to do so the same in their own. The primary, NOT the general election, is the venue where voters can best shape their parties’ platforms, and millions of us on the left have not yet had our say. If we want Hillary to be the more leftward-leaning candidate she’s (cynically, I fear) morphed into over the last several months, we need to keep the pressure up all the way through the process. Furthermore, we need to show all candidates to come that the progressive platform is the future of liberal politics in this country – and the most effective way to do that is with a vote.
3) It is INCREDIBLY important that Sanders supporters vote for the Democratic candidate (i.e. Hillary) come November 8, no matter where they reside. I can’t stress this enough. I don’t care if you live in the bluest part of California or Massachussets, the frontrunners on the right are more terrifying than anything I can ever recall (which is saying something after living through two terms of George W. Bush), and we’ve already seen that the results this year can defy decades of conventional political thinking (not to mention the polls). Any vote left un-cast, or given to a fringe third party candidate, only adds incrementally to the chance that the unthinkable might happen. And the unthinkable MUST not happen. Also, as mentioned above, the time to protest the liberal choice is in the primary; in the general we must consider the message we are sending to the country, and indeed the world, at large – and that message, I believe, must be the most overwhelming possible repudiation of the fascism and ultraconservatism we have seen pushing to the forefront on the right.
In my opinion, the only reason a Sanders campaign was even possible this cycle was due to the groundwork laid by the more moderate Obama administration over the last eight years (an accomplishment for which I do not think he gets enough credit, BTW). I had hoped that with that groundwork we were now ready to return to progressivism not seen since the early 70s; sadly it appears we are not. I therefore must hope that a Clinton nomination represents another step along the path to get there. I will support her this time around – and then on to Elizabeth Warren in 2024! (Or 2020, as the case may be.)