Capitol Beat Opinion

Why Sanders Supporters Need To Vote

Linda Pentz
Written by Linda Pentz


This week, an open letter to fellow Bernie Sanders supporters who have announced that they will not vote in November:

Please remove the “Black Lives Matter” sign from your lawn.

That rainbow flag in your window?  Take it down.

Toss away that demo placard you made that read “We Are All Immigrants.”

Please return your copy of “Suffragette” to Netflix.

By choosing not to vote, you have decided that, after all, none of those causes actually matter.  Black lives, LGBT rights, the welfare of immigrants, smashing the glass ceiling; all of these count for little compared to preserving intact your precious — and let’s face it, white, comfortable, middle-class — integrity.

And please stop railing at your former hero for his “base betrayal” in endorsing Hillary Clinton for president.  This kind of messianic Bernie-or-bust mentality reeks of exactly the same cult-like populism that has propelled Donald Trump to the GOP nomination.

The Sanders campaign was never about Bernie.  It was about justice and democracy and starting a movement.  It was about injecting a genuinely progressive agenda into a Democratic party that badly needed a shake-up and a left turn.  So far so good.  We have made progress.

These kinds  — or any kinds — of revolutions don’t happen overnight.  The women’s suffrage movement took decades.  So did civil rights.  People died to get some of us the vote.

A real revolution takes work and persistence.  It’s not a 140-character, 1-click endeavor.  You actually have to get out there and then stay out there.  For years.  Going home to sulk and sling mud and “vote your conscience” for a third party, or not at all, really isn’t an option right now.  The job is not yet done.  Building a movement just isn’t the same as signing a petition on  Sorry.

I share your concerns about Clinton’s corporatism but not voting won’t change that.  Not voting could change the country dramatically, especially for immigrants, Muslims, the LGBT community, African Americans, Hispanics, the poor, women…..if your non-vote gets us Trump/Pence.

The Sanders campaign awakened and inspired the young.  It revitalized seasoned campaigners.  It made socialism start to look possible.  It gave hope to the oppressed.  This energy must not dissipate in a hissy fit.  It must be leveraged.  You can help.

So there’s a choice.  Retreat to your cave with your cafe latte and lick your wounds.  Or keep working.  After all, even a Sanders presidency wouldn’t have been an overnight sensation.  It’s Congress that needs replacing — House and Senate.  It’s not enough for both to swing Democrat.  Some Democrats are indistinguishable from Republicans.  Congress needs to swing to Bernie Democrats.

That’s precisely what Sanders has turned his attention to and it’s where you come in.  Instead of whining, get off the couch.  Stop bashing Hillary on Facebook.  Run for elected office!  We actually need people like you to be present, not absent.

In endorsing Clinton, Sanders realizes that right now, we will be more effective inside the system than out.  That’s how we’ve won already, on health care and college tuition.  There are still more platforms to populate with our better ideas.

If you really care about everything the Sanders campaign has achieved, then don’t be a quitter.  Let’s keep the Bern burning, if not for you, then for the sake of those less fortunate, whose dreams will be turned to nightmares by a Trump presidency.

For heaven’s sake, vote.