Heading into the voting booth during the Democratic primary, I struggled greatly with my decision. By the time Tennessee’s primaries rolled around, it was clear the Donald Trump was likely going to be the Republican’s nominee. That was a terrifying proposition. So, I knew the candidate we selected as the Democratic nominee had to be someone that could annihilate Trump. To be honest, I wasn’t optimistic about either of our choices – despite my personal feelings for both of them. I like Secretary Clinton and I like Bernie. But, I am one voter. Did I think either candidate could cross party lines or inspire Independents? Eh.
Bernie’s Progressive ideals and policies appealed greatly to me as a young American who worked her way from poverty level income to having a professional career and being comfortably middle class. I was personally familiar with the difficulties of living on a non-living wage. I also have intimate experience with student loans and debt. My professional career is in a field where workers are grossly underpaid. Every single day, I see the damaging effects of income inequality. Bernie is the only candidate talking about this and he is the only one with a plan of attack. But, Bernie is a Democratic Socialist, something few fully understand and also something the Right uses against him. The Right has created a fear in their followers that social and income equality is an attack on America, when in fact, it is quite the opposite. But, I knew the label would hurt him in a general election.
My biggest issue with Bernie and some of his supporters was the way in which they handled themselves during the primaries. Was Bernie treated unfairly by the DNC? Absolutely. But, if you want real change and you want your actions to be taken seriously, you must act like an adult. Don’t whine. Don’t protest without action. Speak up, but speak intelligently and respectfully. As millennials, we are already fighting an uphill battle to be heard and respected, and many of Bernie’s supporters didn’t do us any favors in making progress here. That said, Bernie offered real hope for change to so many of us who have felt disenfranchised and abandoned by Washington. This was the one thing I thought might help him in a general election.
Secretary Clinton, on the other hand, was the establishment darling. She’s seen the Presidency up close and personal and she’s been involved in government for much of her life and career. Her policies fell into alignment with the DNC and she didn’t challenge the establishment. Her shortcomings, however, were far more divisive than Bernie’s (in my opinion). She has a polarizing personality and is a strong female – something I don’t think American voters are ready for. Particularly, independent votes and Southern and Middle America. Not to mention Benghazi and the email situation, both of which have haunted her since before the nomination. But, she had the full support of the DNC, which did mean there wouldn’t be friction in the Democratic party like Trump was causing on the Right.
I did not vote for Secretary Clinton in the primaries – despite my reservations about public perception of Bernie. I knew their perception of Secretary Clinton was far worse. But, my primary reason for casting my democratic vote for Bernie was sitting on my hip. My then one year old son. The vote I cast that day and every vote after has been and will be done with his future in mind. The candidate I chose was the one I felt would have his best interest in mind. I wanted him to have a future where healthcare and education were guaranteed rights. I want him to have a chance to succeed and I want his friends and classmates to have that same chance. For me, the candidate that would fight for that along with me was clearly Bernie.
That said, I also knew that whomever won the DNC nomination would be getting my vote. While I didn’t support HRC during the primaries, I still knew I would support her in the general election – that was never even a question. For those that say that I am dumb for following party lines, I’d like you to provide me with a good option outside of the DNC. The Green Party isn’t strong enough to gain enough votes to earn federal support, and the Libertarians don’t believe in government. As someone who supported and believed in Bernie, there is no way Gary Johnson would have ever earned my vote. Someone who doesn’t support a federal minimum wage cannot and does not speak for working Americans. That is just one example of the shortcomings of the Libertarian party. Side Note … how does one run for an office that they don’t feel should hold any power? Asking for a friend.
Back to the issue at hand … my unpopular opinion. Ready for it? Here it is … HRC lost because we cannot get along. She lost because the DNC ignored Bernie’s platform and its popularity among young and working class voters. She lost because the DNC ignored Bernie’s supporters and did little to reach out and bring them in. She lost because HRS’s supporters chided, mocked and belittled Bernie’s supporters. She lost because of Benghazi. She lost because of emails housed on a fucking private server (the dumbest fucking reason of all). She lost because the Right is so effective at spreading false rumors and “news” that is meant to terrify gullible voters. She lost because Donald Trump and his team were very effective at manipulation. She lost because she ignored so-called Democratic “safe states.” She lost because she didn’t connect with working Americans. She lost because she was and is too friendly to the 1% and corporate America.
Hillary did not lose because she is a woman. She did not lose because of Bernie or Bust voters. She did not lose because of third-party voters.
She lost because we didn’t fight hard enough to come together. And, that is the true reason. Everything I mentioned above was part of the division. As Democrats, we let those reasons come between us and we let it lose us the election. We essentially handed Trump a victory and the keys to our nation because we bickered like babies. And you know what, we are still bickering. Don’t believe me, find a post within the Pantsuit Nation and comment about Bernie or mention you supported him. Just wait for the rabid dogs to appear ready to call you the same thing the Right does (whiny, cry baby, entitled millennial, delusional, uneducated, etc.).
We have got to move forward and focus on the special elections from those seats left empty because of Donald’s cabinet appointments. We have to focus on 2018 and 2020. The DNC must welcome the Progressives in and it must work to incorporate a more inclusive platform that speaks to the voters and Americans that we lost in 2016. But, more importantly, we must work to incorporate each other – both new Dems and old, establishment Dems – into a party that appeals to and works for ordinary Americans. We can’t afford not to.