Senator Ted Cruz addressing an arena full of Tea Party activists, (formerly known as the Republican National Convention) in Cleveland, OH: “vote your conscience”
Crowd Response – “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”
Senator Bernie Sanders addressing a room of supporters about voting for Secretary Clinton prior to the start of the 2016 Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, PA: “Trump is a danger to our country and must be defeated.”
Crowd Response – “BOOOOOOOOO, NO, NO, NO, BOOOOOOOOO.”
The rationale may have been different, but the protests, outcomes and vitriol are the same. If you don’t hear EXACTLY what you want, you are staying home in the next election. More than that, you’re going to make sure the next election doesn’t happen. Am I talking about the Tea Party or am I talking about “Bernie-or-Bust” aka #BernieBros (a minority but highly visible and vocal group of Sanders supporters)? These groups are, one-and-the-same. Is the only difference the cars they drive and whether they watch FoxNews or MSNBC?
Bernie Bros are supposed to be liberal, rational people who believe in climate change, equality and basic human rights. Tea Partiers are supposed to be people who support racism and sexism, refuse to compromise, and have a fundamental misunderstanding of the ideals that the US was founded on. These two groups seem vastly different on the surface. In fact, they should hate each other. However, the temper tantrum #BernieBros displayed over the past few months toward the democratic nomination process looks and sounds identical to previous Tea Party Behavior; this isn’t new, ask Al Gore.
#BernieBros and Tea Partiers actually have some important ideals in common. This was no more evident than the 2010 health care debate. The (admittedly not perfect) Affordable Care Act would provide health care access to 20 million more Americans. This has been a partisan battle field since the turn of the 20th century! But through employment or retirement, a majority of both Tea Partiers and liberal ideologies already had access to health care. So liberal idealogues stood arm in differing arm with Tea Party foes to oppose what Congress and President Obama were trying to accomplish.
Throughout this primary election, #BernieBros have likewise ignored the complex process of politics, and a 240 year history of incremental changes in this country. Like Tea Partiers, there has been a fundamental failure to understand that you don’t get what you want in this democracy by waiving a magic wand. Both groups have equally little clue about how Congress actually works: holding lawmakers you agree with 97 percent of the time hostage to the other three percent of your whims isn’t how progress is made in the U.S. political system, and isn’t how bills of consequence get passed. Both sides know this only blocks meaningful action, just ask former Speaker John Boehner.
I am not dismissing the necessity of two parties, or even factions within the two parties. Read Federalist Papers, No. 10: Madison stated that divisions are and will always be an essential part of our political discourse. It frames the conversation of our Republic. The far left of the Democratic Party is just as essential in moving progressive ideals forward as the Tea Party is in helping the Republicans move the country backwards.
Dialogue is welcome in the U.S. political process. But, dialogue gets dangerous when groups like the Tea Party or Bernie-or-Busters are willing to throw their self-proclaimed revolutions in the toilet in order to make a misconstrued and blurry point. In the case of the 2016 democratic election, this was yelling at Senator Elizabeth Warren that she betrayed their trust, and vowing to sit out the election. It’s sure a helluva lot easier for white, male, otherwise privileged idealogues to sit out this election as their principled stand; they won’t be directly marginalized by a Trump Presidency.
The Tea Party has been effective at eliminating the ones they mostly agree with in the Republican Party. They’ve ousted Republicans in any primary election who agree with Democrats on anything, including the thickness of dental floss. Bernie-or-Busters are using virtually the same logic in their actions toward Secretary Clinton.
This small sect of Sander’s supporters, despite personal appeals from Sanders, think that threatening the fabric of our nation with a Trump Presidency is somehow noble. That is to say, they find protesting Clinton noble. And, in effect, they are ignoring coalitions Clinton has spent 30 years building. This is not only dismissive of her statesmanship, it prevents her from effectively advancing her life’s work of helping those less fortunate.
Let’s make this simple. Clinton isn’t a criminal; fortunately, in this country, you can’t be tried and convicted on Fox News. Clinton won the primary election by more than 3 million votes. This was decided in June.The Democratic National Committee can’t rig elections (or tie their shoes) and, according to newly disclosed primary results from 2008, either can Clinton. Clinton also isn’t a corporate shill. She takes campaign contributions from Wall Street but you need money to win elections. Until “Citizens United” is overturned by liberal Supreme Court Justices (which she supports and which she will nominate), this is a fact. Clinton has built consensus her entire career (Sanders has never been much to build coalitions). Clinton has a more proven track record of fighting for progressive causes than any other presidential candidate in the nation’s history.
The petulant children who booed and hissed liberal speakers through the Democratic convention ignored this in their fervent display of immaturity. But they did expose the lack of depth and thoughtfulness needed in today’s political climate. It wasn’t different than what Tea Partiers and liberal idealogues alike did in town halls throughout the country in 2010.
It’s not a “principled” stand when you choose not to vote for someone you agree with 97 percent of the time, or when you stay home and bemoan the first woman nominee in our country for disproven flaws and because, according to the men, she needs to stop yelling and smile more. It’s a stand that lacks both principle and basis in fact. Primary elections are a part of politics and there can only be one winner. Losing primaries are a fact of political campaigns that only neophytes don’t understand.
Let’s make this even more simple. Trump and his collaborators want to take this country back to the 1950’s. What the fuck do you think “Make America Great Again” really means? Make America great again for white men with money and position and worse again for everyone else. Worse for worker’s rights, LGBTQIAP+ rights, women’s rights, civil rights, religious freedoms, economic equality and any other fundamental human rights. Are #BernieBros willing to sacrifice the progress of the last 70 years because they ultimately lost or don’t they feel warm and fuzzy toward Clinton?
The small group of protesting #BernieBros may be suffering from ignorance and immaturity, but it sure as hell isn’t rooted in any kind of liberalism I’ve heard of. At this point, it’s become indistinguishable from the Tea Party.
The Scotch is ready to join the fight and is #withher. And anyone who considers themselves liberal, believes in science or is smarter than a box of crackers should be too.