Sanders Supporters, We Need to Talk

Dear Bernie Sanders supporters,

I’ll be honest; I am well aware that I am in the minority of Democratic voters my age. I am not feeling the Bern  – no, I am an avid Hillary supporter and very proud of it. Hillary and Bernie do share many of the same views and while I have my issues with Secretary Clinton, I believe she is going to be able to get the job done and move the agenda through more effectively. That said, I really could get behind either of these candidates, and would of course vote for Senator Sanders were he to get the nomination. But while I have my reservations about Bernie, my issue right now isn’t with him. It’s with you. Instead of going after the far right, you’ve taken to aggressively and unfairly attacking your own team, and you’ve taken it too far.

How so? I’m glad you asked. Let’s discuss.

1. You need to pick a side on the polls. 

As Michigan proved, not all polling is correct. There are some major, major flaws in the way it is done. Sometimes they leave out independent voters, sometimes they only call landlines which are all but prehistoric to young voters, and sometimes the sample just is not truly representative of the whole picture. I’ve heard Sanders supporters trash pollsters time and time again, but then turn around and point to the polls as a reason to elect Bernie. You can’t have it both ways and you can’t use a few polls as evidence that superdelegates should switch sides. If the people have decided, stealing the vote based on a few polls seems a little bit undemocratic.

And speaking of undemocratic…

2. If superdelegates are undemocratic, so are caucuses. 

We hear all the time from Sanders supporters that the superdelegates are an undemocratic way for Hillary to win the nomination. Now, besides the fact that Hillary is leading by a sizable margin in pledged delegates and Bernie is now talking about his own superdelegate strategy, that stance still isn’t super strong. The nation is not picking its president, a party is picking its candidate. So, while the process does undermine the “one person, one vote” ideals of the nation, a party can make its own rules. And since superdelegates are so undemocratic, why isn’t everyone all up in arms about caucuses? Since Bernie is sweeping them, it’s probably easy to keep quiet about their restricting nature. The major time commitment, group vote strategy and long list of procedures and rules put a lot of barriers on the “one person, one vote” nature of American democracy. It makes it harder for working people, single parents, people with disabilities, and elderly people to get out and vote. And despite those benefits for Bernie, voting should be as easy and accessible as possible, don’t you think?

3. Enough of the damn emails and the “scandals.”

Seriously, enough. It’s all republican propaganda to paint Hillary as a criminal and a fraud so they can win. You’re buying into it and it’s a little disheartening.

President Barack Obama, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, delivers a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House, Sept. 12, 2012, regarding the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

4. So you hate Hillary, what about Obama? 

Big Oil, Big Business, Wall Street and the like are used by Bernie supporters to paint Hillary as a bought candidate who will push the country backwards if elected in November. But hold on, Obama took money from those places, too. And pardon me for generalizing, but the vast majority of Bernie supports I know also think highly President Obama. So why is this? Why is it only Hillary that is no better than a Republican? I mean, she was the 11th-most liberal senator during her time in Congress. Which, by the way, was when she was directly representing Wall Street.

And speaking of her liberalism…

5. Stop painting this “Goldwater Girl” picture.

Honestly, put down the brush. Just put it down and then please set it on fire. Yes, Hillary Clinton spent a very short time as a Republican during the 60s. You know, back when she was 16. But like many young people who got their political information from their parents, Hillary quickly gained some knowledge and has been a strong Democrat ever since. A change and growth of personal views is something that should be commended, and Bernie supports are outrageous in their efforts to use it against Hillary. After all, they have no issue that progressive Elizabeth Warren was a conservative as recently as the 90s. Obama wasn’t even in favor of same-sex marriage until 2012, and now he’s essentially a gay icon. It’s only natural for people to shift their views as they move forward, so stop trying to smear a political evolution as a negative thing.

6. The facts are against you, so stop the “Hillary is a liar” argument. 

Yes, Hillary for sure has left out some big portions of the auto bailout story and has stretched the truth on a number of occasions. That is, unfortunately, a very real part of our political culture. However, I’m perplexed by this overwhelming opinion of Hillary as a downright liar. Factually, it’s just not quite true; Hillary has been more honest than any of the other four remaining presidential candidates. Truly, she and Bernie are very close in this measurement, but it can’t help but show that this blanket statement against her is completely unjust. It’s, again, largely republican propaganda that for some reason is seeping into the Democratic race.

And on the topic of lies…

7. Put a little more effort into your memes.

Bernie’s whole campaign is one of breaking down the corrupt system and fighting fair. So why aren’t you guys doing that? Every day it seems like a new meme crosses my Facebook or Twitter feed that shows Bernie as a hero and Hillary as a villain, and more often than not the accompanying text of these memes is entirely fictional. Like this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, or all of these. If you want to get your message across, back it up with the facts. Don’t make up stories to try and trick people. That’s called lying.

Democratic_Party_presidential_primaries_results,_2016 (1) (1)
2016 Democratic race so far. Hillary in gold, Bernie in green. 

8. If Hillary couldn’t win on the white working-class in 2008, why should Bernie now?

There’s all this talk now about how Hillary is leading in the “Deep South,” but Bernie is about to come out and demolish her lead in the states with whiter, working-class populations. First of all, discrediting an entire section of the country for being southern is a very strange tactic, as those voters have just as much say in the primary race as anyone else. Secondly, I’m not sure when Iowa, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and Massachusetts became the deep south. And thirdly, this strategy doesn’t work. Just ask Hillary Clinton circa 2008.

And on that note about weird voter tactics…

9. No, Sanders is not actually leading the popular vote. 

An article has been circulating recently claiming that Bernie Sanders is actually the one winning the Democratic race and it only looks like he’s losing because voters don’t know who he is. Okay, Sanders has been in this race for almost a year. He has been at all the debates, all the town halls, everything. Assuming that voters just don’t know who he is is another really weird argument being made by the Sanders camp. Can only uneducated, ignorant people support Hillary Clinton? All these votes for Clinton were just made out of name recognition? That’s really thinking highly of your constituency, guys. Just because people don’t come to the same conclusion as you doesn’t mean they’re any less entitled to their opinion. Sorry, that article is ridiculous, and the fact of the matter is Hillary Clinton is winning and she’s winning by the people.

And finally…

10. If Hillary wins, not voting is a vote for the Republicans. That’s a real problem.

The scariest, most backwards sentiment I’ve gotten from many Sanders supporters is that if Bernie does not win the nomination, they will either not vote or vote for a third party in November. Look, I voted Green in 2012, but I did so because I knew that South Carolina (where I was living) was going red regardless. But if Bernie supporters, in their truly large numbers, decide to go out in droves to support the Green Party or not vote at all it would be catastrophic for our country. You would be handing the vote to Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, and Al Gore can back me up on that one. The strange argument that a Republican presidency now would do more good than a Hillary Clinton one is incredibly problematic and relies on a lot of very dangerous wishful thinking. We can’t just go with a Republican on the idea that we think it would strengthen the left to come back swinging in four years. I can’t help but feel that it shows your privilege a little bit to think that the outcome of the election doesn’t matter as long as your prove your point. Take a step back and realize that the current Republican party poses a very real, very tangible threat to millions of Americans right now, and to decide that they can suffer because you didn’t get your way is truly disappointing.

Let me be clear. I don’t think you are all anything close to bad people, nor do I think all of my points above apply to everyone. I’m actually really energized by the Bernie campaign and this Democratic race as a whole. Everyone’s been out supporting a wonderful cause and proving that progressive young voices are strong and they matter, and that’s absolutely commendable. But I do think that you have a tendency to jump on things too forcefully, and when you do it within your own party I can’t help but feel that it’s counterproductive and misplaced. I mean, when I posted my last piece about Bernie on Facebook, I immediately got attacked by someone angry about something that I didn’t actually say. Turns out this person didn’t read beyond the midway point of the second sentence and therefore missed the part where my statement made a little more sense. They chose to get angry at the first thing they didn’t like and didn’t even bother to hear my argument out. It’s that kind of immediate, aggressive nature that I keep seeing which worries me.

Keep on keeping on and fighting for Sanders to win the nomination and I’ll do the same for Hillary. It’s okay that we disagree and I’m looking forward to a good, long fight. I just hope that you’ll be cognizant of the things you say and do and that you fight fair. For democracy to thrive, you have to hear out everyone’s argument and only after doing so can you make an informed decision. And as I said in my vegan piece the other day, have faith in my ability to make my own choices and I’ll have faith in yours.

Yours truly,

Austin Bucholtz


One thought on “Sanders Supporters, We Need to Talk

  1. I think you might be overreacting to social media, Austin, but I enjoyed reading. I’m an optimistic Sanders supporter in WA. Politeness is a big thing in the Pacific Northwest. It’s the “birdie” symbolism – keep it light, because all us little sparrows deserve to eat and fly free. You’re right that the big difference between Hillary and Bernie isn’t policies. It’s style. Bernie comes across as more accessible, and has a better record of bi-partisan cooperation with Congress. But they both have been working to address the same problems for decades.

    I’ve been involved in many meetings and the caucus process for months here, and never once did I encounter the opinion (from those actually involved in doing the legwork to make this happen) that if HRC wins the delegates and becomes the nominee, we won’t vote for her. Not. One. Time. People talk smack during primaries, but they still get behind the nominee. We also know it’s more likely she will be the nominee. But as long as we stay in the race and keep talking, she must answer our concerns.


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