The Bern It Down movement is not the answer to dissatisfaction with government


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I’m pretty sure Donald Trump will be the one to place his tiny, tiny right hand on a Bible next January to swear his commitment to serve this country as president. I think this because I’m pretty sure about something else, too: If Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders’ supporters will try to take her — and the country — down.

I don’t want to see a Trump Administration in the White House. Donald Trump makes me gag. That’s hardly even hyperbole: Sometimes, when I slip into Trump-induced anxiety spirals, my stomach knots itself so tightly that waves of nausea beat against me. Serenity comes when I repeat, mantra-like, phrases I myself barely believe: “It’s not possible. It’s not possible. He can’t be president. He just can’t.”

I really enjoyed reading “Fahrenheit 451” for my 10th-grade English class. I don’t want to live between its pages. But that kind of world — as horrible and unrealistic as it is — seems to be fast approaching.

A movement is growing among Bernie Sanders’ supporters. It’s got a few names — Bern It Down, It’s Bernie or Nothing, Bernie Sanders or Bust — but the plan is always the same: Bernie Sanders has to be the Democratic presidential nominee. In the case that he’s not, some of his supporters have pledged not to vote at all, to vote for Donald Trump or to write Sanders’ or a Green Party candidate’s name in. Some argue that even Donald Trump is better than Hillary Clinton, whom many see as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Others mean to send a message to the political establishment through abstention. All are motivated by intense love for Bernie Sanders and a profound sense of dissatisfaction with our current political system.

To me, this all feels like a Machiavellian bargain of colossal proportions. I, too, am unhappy with the trajectory of the United States government. I want to see greater commitment from our politicians to value and protect public education, the environment, human rights at home and abroad. I don’t agree with the wars we fight or the peculiar anti-intellectualist sentiment growing in certain parts of the country or the way we refuse to prioritize women’s health. But I don’t want to see our governmental infrastructure and our country reduced to ashes.

I’m not a political science major. I cannot produce analyses based in economics or government or foreign policy. I can only offer the musings of someone who loves her country deeply, for all of its problems and glories. I can offer only the simplest pathos appeal I know: No one is worse for America than Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is a blight upon this country. I sincerely mean that with all of the connotations of the word. America, after a few years festering under the Trump Administration, will stand like a modern Ozymandias — barren, desolate, destroyed — rent violently from all its greatness and glory. He is a hateful and hate-filled human being whose rhetoric has given birth to the ugliest grassroots movement the United States has seen since the neo-Nazi Skokie march.

In a Facebook post he made late this May, UC Berkeley public policy professor and Sanders supporter Robert Reich wrote, “Some of you say there’s no real difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The problem with this logic is it’s wrong.” I cannot agree more. Hillary Clinton is a member of the Democratic political establishment, yes. She’s said bigoted things in the past and has flip-flopped on her views to pander to the electorate. But she’s light years ahead of Donald Trump in every single way. She has legitimate political experience (and a lot of it). She has never mocked disability. And she knows that the office of president is more than just a bragging right.

I am a Bernie Sanders supporter through and through. Turning away from Hillary Clinton was a big deal for me. We’re liberal stock in my family, and practically all of my relatives (save the Midwest branch of the family) adore the Clintons. Yet for all of my realism, I am an idealist, too, and I believe in the kind of political revolution Bernie Sanders wants to bring to America.

A few weeks ago, I took a quiz to determine which candidate most shared my beliefs. The result: Bernie Sanders, 100 percent similarity. The thing is, though, I’m fully prepared to vote for Hillary Clinton. I expect to vote for her in the general election. Perhaps it’s a glitch in my idealism, but I don’t think that the United States is quite ready for the changes Sanders means to enact. And that’s OK.

Even if Bernie Sanders doesn’t make it to the general election, he’ll have done something incredible for the country. He re-awoke in the American people a belief that grassroots organization means something — that the individual means something — in an age when the opposite seems true. He broke through the wall of apathy preventing so many people from caring about politics. This tousle-headed senator from Vermont gave the United States a tremendous gift, and I think many people — regardless of the outcome of November’s election — will remain Bernie Sanders supporters for life.

I’ll steal John Lennon’s words: You say you want a revolution? That’s fine. Just don’t elect Donald Trump to make it happen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are in a statistical dead heat among all registered voters in California. Maybe Sanders will clinch the nomination after all or maybe he won’t. If that time comes, I’ll be ready (to vote) for Hillary.

Sarah Coduto is an arts and entertainment writer. Contact her at [email protected]

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