Dear Bernie Supporters: You Don't Have to Vote for Hillary. Honest.
Your future President. Maybe.
I am jealous of Republicans. While I might find their social policies disgusting and get annoyed when they pretend to be small-government, I admire the way the Republican machine operates. Their ends may be awful, but their means are something that I wish Democrats would take a closer look at.
By the time the first Republican debate rolled around this election cycle, there were 17 candidates running to become President, and odds are good you could name at least half of them without trying too hard. Push aside what they believe for a moment and just look at what they were presenting Republican voters: options.
The Republican Party makes Republican superstars, people whom voters are energized to go see and who don't embarrass themselves to the party base when they go on television. Yeah, that does mean they give the left a lot of targets for liberal outrage reporting, but as long as the base is happy, that doesn't matter.
Yes, Donald Trump will end up being their nominee, which is insane and beautiful, but it won't be because the Republicans haven't been looking toward the future this entire time; the electorate, left to their own devices, will amaze you.
In the eight years that Barack Obama has been in office, the Democrats haven't done a particularly good job creating the next generation of Democratic superstars, the names, faces and voices that will lead the party into the future. Sure, entertainment media might show up to rallies, and John Oliver is a pretty good replacement for Jon Stewart, but when it comes to people running for office, how many high-profile Democrats can you name?
It is no surprise then that the Democratic side of the Presidential race only ever really had two names, no offense to Martin O'Malley. It is a depressing state of affairs. In a two-party system, the idea that one party is so lazy that it can't be bothered to put in the time and effort to cultivate more nominees for the highest position in the land is bizarre.
Which is not to say that I don't understand their position. You could do much worse for a frontrunner than Hillary Clinton, and it's easy to believe that the American people are just too scared of what might happen if a Republican heads to the White House. I can see how this election would look like a slam dunk.
But this laziness, this inability to plan ahead and not seeing that maybe, just maybe, not everyone was going to be Team Hillary has taken me to a place that I was not expecting to go: I am not voting for President in 2016. And if you're a Bernie supporter frustrated with the political process, I urge you not to vote either.
Lots of folks are feeling the Bern, and you don't have to let that fire go when he drops out.
It's something that's already been discussed for the past few weeks, but now that Super Tuesday has come and gone, a lot of voices for both candidates are going to be talking about how the party needs to come together, that the differences between Hillary and Bernie are not as great as you might think, that our very survival may rest on defeating the Republicans in November. You already know the arguments they're going to make, too: that the Supreme Court matters more than anything, that Obama's legacy must be secured, that the idea of President Trump is horrifying.
But if all of these things really matter, why didn't the party do more to prepare for this election? How did they let part of the electorate be won over by a guy who isn't even a Democrat?
Even though we largely agree on things, I cannot rally behind a party that knew this day was coming for eight years and just assumed I would show up for reasons. That doesn't inspire me. That doesn't scream leadership to me. It's as hollow as all their talk on gun reform.
I'm not telling you not to vote at all. Research your local candidates, canvas for those who you think are fighting the good fight, hope for better in November. But don't let yourself be guilted into voting for a party that hasn't earned your vote. Your vote is a voice, and if you don't think the powers that be respect your voice, you don't have to speak, no matter how much they try to scare you.
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