What does “Bernie or Bust” really mean for our country?

I think I speak for everyone when I say that the 2016 election has been unconventional, extremely controversial, and especially volatile. In a bizarre twist, we currently have a highly disliked, formerly-liberal reality star fronting the Republican Party. To make it even more unpredictable, two equally unprecedented and unlikely candidates are fighting for the democratic nomination. One of which is a 68-year-old grandmother and former First Lady, aiming to be the country’s first female president and move back into her former bedroom at the White House. The other is a 74-year-old Jewish Democratic Socialist from Vermont, amassing historic turnout among young people and running on a platform of income equality and injustice.

Personally, when I look at these three options, there is only one that I am absolutely terrified of. Can you guess which? If you guessed the hateful, bigoted narcissist with the bad comb-over, you are correct. But somehow, there is a group of people in my own party that don’t feel the same. I’m talking to you, Bernie-Or-Busters. I’ve asked a multitude of Sanders’ ardent supporters about their personal reasoning for joining the B.O.B.’s. One said that Bernie Or Bust is a way to show the Democratic Party that they can’t survive without the input of independents and the far-left Sanders crowd. One said the true point was just to keep Hillary out of the White House at all costs even if it ends up handing Trump the key. One said that President Trump would be a punishment for the DNC and all of the American Electorate that didn’t vote for Sanders. And another claimed that America would only learn its lesson when Trump came in and left the entire 2-party system “tattered, worn, and dead.”

In all honesty, I struggle to comprehend the logic. I will say, however, that I do understand the passion and frustration among Bernie’s supporters. But we must remember that like Secretary Clinton has said repeatedly: “There is more that unites us than divides us.” We really do want much of the same things. We can all agree that we want the minimum wage to increase, reproductive rights to remain in place, affordable healthcare to be available to everyone that needs it, equal pay acts established for all workers, and an effort to end discrimination on anybody based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. So how can anybody compromise all of these things that we both want so badly, just to prove a point? So much of Sanders’ campaign has been based around the themes of compassion, kindness, inclusion, and tolerance. He is a radical democratic socialist that wants equality for everyone regardless of their gender, race, or economic class. How on earth does one go from supporting the farthest-left candidate’s platform to saying “screw it, let the bigot win?” How can one call themselves a “progressive” and a supporter of peace and acceptance, while simultaneously helping the most hateful candidate in recent history? Please don’t try to claim that Trump isn’t aided by your write-in candidates or your general absence of voting. Any American that was alive in 2000 knows how these things work and where this road will lead. So, tell me… is the sound of “President Trump” really part of a grand revolution? Or is it just your ego?

In my opinion, the future of our country is not an acceptable field to take the “my way or the highway” stance with. There is just too much at stake. One spot on the Supreme Court is open right now, and additional seats are expected to be vacated within the next presidency as well. Supreme Court justices serve for life and can only be removed if they are impeached or retire at their own will. Do you really think it will be beneficial to let Trump’s appointed Republican judges take over our Supreme Court for what will likely be the majority of our lives? I don’t. Together, we need to take a hard look at some of the issues that are at risk in this election.

First of all, about half of our country is female, so let’s give them a moment of our time. While there are a lot of things one can criticize Hillary Clinton for, nobody can truthfully claim that she isn’t a feminist. Donald Trump, infamous for his blatant misogyny, has stated that abortions should be banned and women that receive them should be “punished.” When a female voter asked about where he stood on equal pay, he dismissed the question, and when the woman continued to push, he told her she can already get the same amount of money “if you do as good a job” as the men do. And we are comparing him to a candidate that has stood with Planned Parenthood and fought for our right to safe, legal abortions. She is a candidate who is fighting for equal pay, advocating for women’s health issues, and planning acts for affordable childcare. You don’t really care for her as a person? That’s fine. But you should care about the lives of the women that make up half of this country. If you’re a woman, you should already know better than to allow a man like this into power. And if you’re not a woman, you should look at your mother, sister, daughter, wife, or girlfriend, and you should think to yourself: “Is proving a point worth risking her freedom, her rights, and her future?” Spoiler alert: it isn’t.

But maybe women’s issues just aren’t important to you. How about racism, discrimination, and religious freedom? Is that important? A Trump presidency can have dire consequences when it comes to racism in America as well as foreign relations with other countries. This man has proposed the banning of all Muslims entering our country. Let that sink in. The literal banning of individuals based solely on religion. He has made derogatory comments about multiple races and cultures and he shows no sign of changing his stance or his verbiage. We all know that a Trump presidency would undoubtedly make many of the citizens in our lovely melting pot of a country feel like exiles in their own home. And to put this in perspective to foreign relations, there are only two countries that even border the United States, and both have citizens that are rigidly opposed to Trump and leaders that have spoken out against him.

But hey, maybe you’re not a minority. Maybe women’s rights and cultural discrimination don’t apply to you at all. But, there’s still something that applies to all of us. While we may not share the same values, morals, viewpoints, or cultures, we do share one thing: the planet we all call home. Meanwhile, Trump recently claimed that Climate Change is a hoax. He even promised to immediately defund environmental research and protection and to eliminate all of the measures we currently have in place, including the Climate Action Plan. Do you think this man is going to do a single thing to help our environment, boost clean renewable energy, or save what’s left of our savagely damaged Earth? He isn’t. He doesn’t care. Do you really believe that it’s acceptable to delay the environmental and ecological advancements we need to keep our planet alive? Do you really believe that setting our environment up for 4-8 years of complete negligence is worth “proving a point?” I promise you, our world is worth more than your ego.

But y’know what? These are just my opinions. Let’s throw emotion and personal beliefs aside for a second and look at actual numbers and facts. First, let’s talk about the era that I was born in. From 1993 to 1999, our country’s growth on social issues was immense. The unemployment rate dropped to a record 4 percent (the lowest in 30 years), the poverty rate dropped to 11.8 percent (it’s lowest since 1979), funding for HIV/AIDS related health programs increased by 150 percent, and gun violence decreased by 40 percent. Impressive, huh? Unfortunately, we only began to continue this growth again in 2008. Since the start of the Obama administration, violent crimes have decreased by 16 percent, job openings have increased by 97 percent, unemployment has decreased by 3 percent, and the use of wind and solar power has increased by an astronomical 273 percent. Meanwhile, the era in between those two presidencies is best described as a “hot mess,” as the progress of the 90s was halted and kept at a standstill until 2008. Why? Because we had a clueless Republican leading our nation. Imagine for a moment all of the additional progress President Clinton and President Obama could have made had they not had to spend so much of their presidencies cleaning up the messes they both inherited from the Bush legacies. I’m sick of the Republicans negating our progress. I’m sick of our Democratic presidents having to push the pause button on all of their plans because first they are required to spend years fixing what their predecessors broke.

Despite the ongoing and constant interference of the Republican Party, we have made huge strides in the last decade. We elected our first black president, a monumental and historic feat. We have made affordable health insurance available for families nationwide. We have legalized same sex marriage in all 50 states, giving all couples the same rights and benefits. We have come so far towards the future that you and I both want. Sure, our current presidential platform has not yielded everything that we would like to get done, but it’s a hell of a lot closer to Bernie’s goals than it is to Trump’s or to Bush’s before him. It is remarkable that a candidate like Bernie has made it this far with a platform full of things that no candidate in history has brought to the forefront. If you want Bernie or any candidate like him to control our country someday, let’s give them a head start. Let’s give them a democratic controlled Supreme Court and Congress to work with. Let’s give them economic and social growth to build off of.  Above all, let’s refuse to allow Trump to drive our nation into the ground in the meantime. After all, Sanders himself once stated, “On her worst day, Hillary Clinton will still be an infinitely better candidate and president than the Republican candidate on his best day.”

All we have to do is look at our history and remember where our country was under Republican leadership and where we are today. We have this platform started right now and if we expect it to continue to improve, we need a Democrat to build off of it. No, it’s not perfect by any means, but it’s progress. Please do not let a dangerous, bigoted, right wing reality star push his way into the White House and take a wrecking ball to all that we have worked for in the last eight years. When November comes, please remember what’s at stake.

Be on the right side of history and vote blue.

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