So my girl closed out her campaign with a super-classy good-bye note to supporters that made me tear up. With my favorite candidate EVER done, I’m honestly undecided, and I’m inviting your input. Here’s where I’m at:
I’m leaning Biden, guys. First, pure numbers: It seems a lot of Black elders – the people who got the crap beaten out of them in order to get the right to vote, the people who stand in line for 7 hours (WHICH IS ATROCIOUS) to do so – they showed up in droves to vote for him. That says something, and I don’t think it’s that they don’t care about healthcare, are uninformed, or are merely nostalgic for Obama. I’m not going to pretend to know their minds or IN ANY WAY try to speak for them, but that gives me pause, and it should give you pause too. This is a moment that requires listening, not dismissing. Lisa Sharon Harper has a really thoughtful, compassionate take on this here. I know Bernie’s coalition is diverse, but his youth vote didn’t come out on Tues. That’s not a judgment on youth – I know a lot have crappy jobs, etc., that do not allow them to take the day off to vote, etc., but the same obstacles are not going to magically go away between now and November, and the only way to change the 7-hour lines is to vote people in who will change it, so we should be listening to the people who can and will show up. Since I no longer have a candidate I believe in, I have to play the poll-numbers game and guess what other people are thinking (not my strong suit!).
My issues with your two candidates:
Biden. I have not forgotten his voting record on Social Security, criminal justice, or the Iraq War. I have not forgotten that his platform is a far cry from everything I want. I have not forgotten how he gaslighted my candidate on national TV, trying to take credit for her signature achievement and patting her on the head for “doing a good job at your job.” BUT: I can imagine a scenario in which a vote for “mere” stability at the top of the ticket and then working our butts off down-ballot pays off. If we could flip Congress and push it left, and had a friendly bill-signer in the WH, we could get a lot done. I like this scenario a lot. My main objection to Biden right now is I’m afraid if he runs away with it, it really will become a vote for a return to the status quo. He needs to be pushed, hard, and I find him totally, TOTALLY uninspiring. I’m SO TIRED of voting for old white farts, guys. SO TIRED. So a good way to win me over is to tell me what inspires you about Biden, if you are indeed an enthusiastic supporter.
Bernie. Good god, where to start. I like the guy. He himself has stayed very positive and message-oriented. I admire his integrity. I love his platform, although I wish he would spell out some math that works. I *want* to love him like you do. I believe health care is a right. I believe voting is a right. I personally have no beef with the word “socialism.” I like the people that I personally know who support him, the way some of you like some of the Christians that you personally know, even though the group at large reeks of self-righteousness, judgment, and bullying (sorry, fellow Xtians, for the analogy, though too many of you know how true it is). I just currently think Bernie might be the Worst. Possible. Person. to lead the charge to bring M4A home to us.
First three words that come to mind: Socialist. Heart Attack. Bros. If you think the Dem establishment is spooked by those words and gearing up to fight the progress you want, imagine the Republican machine. I think of Denmark and cheap healthcare when I think of socialism, but I remember when Hillary first introduced the idea of universal healthcare back in the 90s, having to suffer through a days-long harangue about feminazis and the evils (the EVILS, THE EVILS) of Socialism, the System of Criminals, Tyrants, and Moochers, the Enemy of Freedom, Progress, and All Good Things. All of that is nonsense of course, but this was at the very very beginning of Rush Limbaugh’s career as a radio host. He’s had nearly 3 decades since then to hammer it home. I think you underestimate how much this is a big deal for other people, still.
Remember that there are a lot of disaffected Republicans looking for someone they can vote for against Trump. I know moderates and independents usually don’t show up, but the suburban moderate vote also came out in droves for Biden on Tuesday. Bernie, or his Bro surrogates, will send all of these people running, and not only might we lose the WH, we will certainly lose Congress and down-ballot votes too. There is no Revolution with a McConnell Senate, no matter how many protests and marches you attend, and RBG is not going to live forever. I think the backlash against Bernie, either this election or next, whether he wins or loses, would be EPIC. Who will be damaged the most by this? All the people that all of us progressives are trying to fight for. The Earth. Democracy. Everything.
So a good way to talk me over to the Bernie side is to convince me that my fears are unfounded. Tell me how he’s going to actually turn out that elusive youth vote. Tell me how he’s evolved from being a protest-vote Senator in a safe state to a coalition-builder who can treat people with different agendas as partners instead of establishment enemies. Tell me how he is going to soothe the fears of people who are shaken by the mayhem of the last four years and want a deep breath of simple stability before they jump into more radical change. Tell me how he plans to be an effective President, an effective executive-branch leader of government after decades of not delivering a lot in the Senate. Will it be his super-competent cabinet? If he built his entire platform on M4A but we lose Congress and he can’t deliver, is there a back-up plan? Is there a plan to manage the anger, disappointment, and fallout if that happens? How is his campaign responding to the results from Super Tuesday? Are they critically self-assessing, or just blaming Warren supporters? Convince me he can win it all. Give me math for that – what is his electoral path? We know from 2016 that getting tons of votes in California does not a winner make. So far the numbers are not in his favor. What do you say when canvassing and somebody says “socialism” with the same tone they would use for “coronavirus”?
Also, and this is not small – what is his plan, and your personal plan, for confronting the toxic bro culture? Hint: #NotAllBerners is not an effective argument. Because I’ve now deconstructed from three (THREE) cults, and there is a …. fragrance of fundy-style group-think wafting from the Bernie camp that is both deeply familiar and extraordinarily unsettling. It has to do partly with his supporters’ fixation on his purity of woke-ness, the decades of un-wavering commitment to ideology, how nobody who has ever evolved through different positions can be trusted. The way they virtue-signal their own progressive bonafides by considering that everyone not with them immediately and completely must be a corporate shill who doesn’t care if people die. I care very, very much if people die, that people have already been dying, which is why I take this choice so seriously. If Bernie’s turnout is disappointing despite widespread support for M4A, consider that the problem *may* be your candidate, or the culture around him, not his platform, and not a conspiracy of party politics against you. And what are you going to do about that? How do you think the messaging should change? And I totally get it that you’re angry. I get the sense of emergency and urgency, I do. But I also know from experience that shaming people for disagreeing with you is not productive if you want them to join your side. I’m a woman, remember? I’ve never been allowed to be angry.
So what are your thoughts? I’m open. I really am. We all share, at minimum, the same biggest goal: a Democratic WH. If I can’t land on a choice I feel good about, I might sit the primary out. I will, of course, show up for the general and all the down-ballots. POC especially invited to weigh in.