This is a loaded question that I have gotten from not only close friends who support Biden, but also random people who I texted on the behalf of the Bernie Campaign. I don’t think any one Bernie Supporter can answer this question honestly or accurately if they tried. In order to get half a clue of where Bernie Supporters are putting their vote, you have to understand who they are, and how they came to support Bernie at all. That will still not answer the question for you, because things are very fluid and the closer we get to November or even the August DNC Convention, the more things change and flip around again. If you have tried to predict how this Primary would go, you have most likely been wrong…and there in lies the rub…predicting November is most likely a fool’s errand. No one at this moment knows how this will shake out, they only know what people are feeling right now. That being said, maybe if you knew where we are coming from, you could persuade some of us to vote for Biden.
Who are Bernie Supporters?
Bernie Supporters are made up of left leaning Democrats, Progressive voters, Independent Voters, Green Party Voters, people who don’t claim any particular party at all, people who would like to see the DNC and GOP cease to exist, Latino Voters, Native American Voters, Black Voters, Asian Voters, White Voters, LGTBQ+ Voters, Feminists, Working Class Voters, Middle Class Voters, Upper Middle Class Voters, a small amount of Upper Class Voters, Economically disadvantaged Voters, Voters under 60 (and the younger the age, the more there are), Students, Health Care Workers, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. If I happened to leave you out, I apologize, my imagination was lacking. As you can see, that’s a lot of different types of people from different backgrounds and walks of life, they cover the spectrum of the United States of America.
How did all these Different People Get Behind Bernie?
We all found ourselves here backing him due to his platform that speaks to our values and our needs. Some of us don’t agree with it all and think he should be even more Progressive, that it doesn’t ask for nearly enough…but it’s a good start and the best start we’ve seen in our lifetimes. I don’t think there is a Bernie Supporter out there that thinks he needs to be more Center of Left, because there were already plenty of candidates that were Center Left and even more Center Right in the Democratic Party. Maybe there were a few of us, it’s possible, but I never personally met a Bernie Supporter who voiced that they thought Bernie’s Platform was too Progressive.
If you don’t know Bernie’s Platform, here’s the highlights reel: Medicare for All (Single Payer Health System), Green New Deal, Student Loan Forgiveness (for everyone) and Free Public College (for everyone who gets an acceptance to college), 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights, Free Childcare and Pre-K Education, Eliminating Medical Debt, Honoring the USA’s Commitment to Veterans, Taxing Extreme Wealth, and Reinvesting in Public Education. The platform covers much more than just this, but these are common themes that Bernie Supporters are very passionate about.
If you are in steep Medical Debt or haven’t been able to afford Medical Insurance, you found yourself with Bernie. If you read the damning Fourth National Climate Assessment and said, “Oh shit! We are out of time!” You found yourself with Bernie, because no other Democratic Candidate got even close to the Green New Deal…and Trump won’t do anything about it. If you have staggering Student Loan Debt that you will never be able to repay or cannot afford College for your kids, you found your way to Bernie. If you haven’t been able to get past $15 an hour in wages and have no other options for employment but the Service Industry…you finally found someone who understands the abusive and exploitive relationship you have with your employer. If you are a parent who struggles to pay the daycare bill or pieces together childcare by an insane drop off/pickup schedule with all the family and friends you have, feeling guilty that you can’t give your little one better…you found yourself to Bernie. If you are a Veteran who saw how politicians used you to enrich the oil companies in the oil wars, you found your way to Bernie’s Campaign and contributed more donations to Bernie than any other Democratic candidate. If you have been doing pretty well in the corporate world and no matter how much better you do, you end up paying insane taxes (so you end up making less than the previous year) while your employer gets a refund and your employer’s shareholders pay nothing…you found yourself here. If you are a woman and found yourself in the same situation I just mentioned, but make even 90% to the dollar of your male colleagues, it was easy to find yourself here. If you are a Public School teacher who has seen how predatory and abusive previous administrations, local, and State governments have been to you and your students, you also found yourself with Bernie.
Most people though, found themselves identifying with more than just one issue…and when they started seeing how others were struggling and how they really shouldn’t have to…they got on board. They had empathy for other people’s struggles. They didn’t say, “Stop your whining,” “You think you are so special? Snowflake,” “Well my aunt/uncle/brother’s wife/sister’s husband/cousin/son/etc had a similar issue and they got past it, so you should too.” Instead, we said, “Tell me more. How did you get to this place? What do you think would help you the most? Can I share your story with my friends, so they know this is a problem that happens? Maybe, they can help. I’m sorry you are going through this and even though I didn’t know you yesterday, I will fight for you. You are worthy of much more.”
Bernie created a movement where people were welcome to support one another, discuss the issues we were all facing, and find ideas and solutions to them…then take action to make them happen. If you think his movement ends with him, it doesn’t. It began with him and it is not going away. There are other leaders within the movement that will take the helm when Bernie can’t anymore.
If Bernie had such a Diverse Base, Why didn’t they show up for him in the Primaries?
As I mentioned, not all of Bernie’s supporters are Democrats. Not all States have Open Primaries, where you can choose which Party’s ballot you are going to vote under. Party affiliation matters to third party registered voters. They know that switching their Party for one election will harm their party more than it will help the Democratic Party. When you have small numbers, it’s important to preserve them.
Young voters are very hard to get to the Primaries and some just don’t understand that if they don’t vote in the Primaries, they risk not having their candidate on the ballot in November. We tried to get to all of them. Some GOP Controlled States made it next to impossible for Students to vote in the Primaries. There happened to be more GOP controlled States that vote earlier in the Primary season than Democrat controlled States…which is why the Democratic Nominee is heavily shaped by conservative States…and why California moved up their Primary, so they would have more of a say.
I don’t think Bernie’s people didn’t show up for him, just that over half the States were not able to vote before he suspended his campaign. In addition, if you live in a GOP Controlled State, you are going to have more voter restrictions, longer lines, less polling locations, etc…and sometimes, even if you tried your best to get to the polls before closing, you couldn’t wait long enough because it ran into your shift at work, or would make you too late for daycare pickup, etc. Some States also do not allow Vote By Mail…or lagged on getting them out to all those who requested one. These 2 paragraphs should terrify you, and you shouldn’t scoff at Bernie supporters who didn’t get to the polls, because Biden voters will experience these same things in the November election. Especially if the Coronavirus continues and the Federal Government doesn’t pass a bill to make the Election a Vote By Mail one Nationally. Even more terrified, if Trump vetoes funding the USPS…which he is promising. USPS is the distributor of Vote By Mail ballots. Text “USPS” to the Resistbot at 50409 to urge your Congressmen and Congresswomen to fight for this funding. They will send a letter from yourself to all of them in less than 2 minutes.
“Vote Blue No Matter Who” and Vote Shaming
I know you are scared of another 4 years of Trump. I know you want us all to fall in line, but this phrase and vote shaming is not helpful. Blaming Bernie Supporters for Hillary Clinton’s loss is not helpful and its untrue. More of Bernie’s Supporters voted for Clinton than Clinton Supporters did for Obama. Only 12% voted for Trump in 2016, whereas 24% of Clinton Supporters voted for McCain. Eighty percent of Bernie Supporters voted for Hillary…and Bernie did 34 rallies campaigning for her. Hillary did not do the same for Obama. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Hillary, LOVED HER, but even with 3 million more votes than Trump, she didn’t win based on where the votes were located. The biggest mistake of her campaign was alienating Progressives and Independents…as well as not campaigning in Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin.
In addition, if your Bernie friend that lives in a solid blue or red State doesn’t vote for Biden, let them be…it’s not going to affect the electoral college votes in your State one bit. Don’t harm a friendship by shaming them into voting for Biden. If they are usually a third party voter, their vote will help their party more than it would statistically affect the results of your State. I know you don’t want to hear this, but it’s true.
If your friend lives in a purple State, you have a lot of work to do…and vote shaming will produce the opposite result that you desire. It makes people stand firmer in their “on the fence” decision that is opposing to what you want. This is human nature. Instead of shaming them, ask them why they can’t bring themself to vote for your candidate. Ask them what their concerns are and how you can help them push your candidate to put what they need on their platform…or maybe make a pact with them…if they help you get Biden in office, you will help them push his administration in a more progressive direction by joining them in protests. You want anyone but Trump, but we think we can do more than one thing the next four years…getting Trump out is not enough…we must rid our government of that which got us Trump. If you aren’t sure what those things are, ask your Bernie friend why and how they think Trump happened. Their answer will definitely be different than mine, but it will be another puzzle piece in that picture. One thing we all think though, is that letting nothing really change and trying to go back to the days before Trump is not only impossible…it will produce a much worse, more saavy, and intelligent sociopath than Trump for the 2024 election…and it may be impossible to keep the White House in this case.
DNC Contempt for Progressive Voters
Another thing that is going to have to be reckoned and resolved is the clear contempt that the DNC has for Progressive Voters. If you don’t know what I am talking about, watch “The Circus” and how Jennifer Palmieri or Debbie Wasserman Schultz talks about “Bernie Bros” and how they spin this myth. They are practically rolling their eyes while they are talking and this isn’t the only show I have seen this attitude expressed. Watch the Hillary Clinton docuseries on Hulu, there’s so much of it…and I’ll say it again, I REALLY LIKE Hillary Clinton…especially when she says a smart assed thing.
This contempt was also shown in how Bernie was covered in Democratic Media like Rachel Maddow, The View (in particular Whoopi – Jesus Christ!), Stephen Colbert (just WOW), and The Weekly. The contempt is thick for him and not only that, he doesn’t get thrown softball questions hardly at all, but he has an answer and seems to thrive on the hard questions even when they mischaracterize him. These same people treat Biden with kid gloves like he is their grandpa that they deeply respect…and Biden can’t even answer a question without stumbling through his notes or rambling…especially if the answer isn’t written on a teleprompter. They quizzed Bernie about his heart, but they never ask Biden about his decline…and this serves the Democratic Party and the people of the Party in no productive way.
Maybe the DNC has not realized this, but sooner or later they will. Their population is on the decline. Biden did best with voters over 60, fine, there’s plenty of these voters today…and there might be enough of them to pull out a win for Biden in November. I seriously doubt it, but I’ve been wrong before. However, in the next election, there will be less of them, and the election after that even less…and by 3 or 4 election cycles, they will be mostly gone. Many people my age and younger are talking about leaving the Democratic Party for good following this election, maybe even before that. If all the Progressive voters leave, there won’t be enough young voters to take up the helm of the Democratic Party and have enough of a population that can win an election. At this point, the DNC might need us to vote in their Party and stay more than we need the Democratic Party.
We can get what we want, we already have gotten $15/hr minimum wage…if you think we can’t get Medicare for All after all this Coronavirus craziness, you are lying to yourself. If Trump said we don’t have to pay our Student Loans for 6 months, whose to say we won’t have to for a year, 18 months, until a vaccine…and if we get a break that long, no one is going to be willing to pay them ever…and if our economy is so broken that we can’t recover in 5-10 years, why should we have that further financial burden holding us back? Wouldn’t it just be the Cat’s Meow for the Republicans to claim they were more willing to appeal to Progressives than the Democratic Party by meeting two out of their top three issues? Its would be better if the DNC buried the hatchet of contempt and appealed to us than to let an Authoritarian do it instead. I mean when the Trump campaign is more welcoming and warm to Bernie Supporters than the Democratic Party, that is dangerous for our country and it’s dangerous for the Democratic Party. This thought should scare the shit out of every remaining Democrat there is.
Some Bernie Supporters won’t fall for this from Trump, some won’t have the privilege to refuse it, and some remember who was warm and welcoming to them and how much they would love to stick it to the party that has shown contempt for them even though they gave them their votes for their entire adult life…hoping they might move a little more left next time…but instead moved a little more right every time.
Progressive Sentiments of a Biden Presidency
Many Bernie Supporters fear a Biden Presidency for a lot of reasons. The biggest one I’ve seen is if Biden wins the election and then steps down from mental decline at any point in his first term…the VP will take over. If the VP is another Corporate Neoliberal (but very competent and whip smart), we surely will not see any real policy change from the White House for the next 12 years. This means another 12 years of climate change action that is squandered and it will mean irreversible climate change to the detriment of our futures and our children’s futures. They see a risk of 4 more years of Trump and another shot at the White House with a more progressive candidate in 2024 as more desirable than 12 years of squandered time and a planet no one can live on. It’s also a long time for an even worse Trump replacement to build support and take the White House in 2032, siphoning off Independents and resentful Progressives…or hammering the nail in their apathy laden coffin.
Another popular sentiment is that if they vote for Biden, they are a total hypocrite to the #MeToo movement. I know Alyssa Milano absolved Biden of his sexual assault of Tara Reade in exchange for giving her podcast some clout in its newborn stage by coming on it, but she does not represent the entire #MeToo movement. It is especially hard for survivors of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment to turn their back on someone like them for someone they view as a predator. This has not been covered much in main stream media at all…and when it is, they are just as quick to dismiss it as Fox News was to dismiss Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. Tara Reade’s allegations have more weight behind them than Christine Blasey Ford’s…I know its terrible to compare, but if Fox News dismissed them because there was no report or evidence. It’s not as easy with Tara Reade, she reported it to her supervisor, filled out paperwork, told at least 3 people when it happened (people who are willing to support her), and told others later on. In comparison, Christine Blasey Ford, didn’t tell anyone, but her therapist and her husband much later. But, you know what? #MeToo believed Christine Blasey Ford (I believe her too)…and they should believe Tara Reade too. I believe Tara Reade and I’ll tell you why. Tara Reade’s story is a familiar one, its the same story I’ve heard from multiple female colleagues I’ve had in my career in Engineering. It’s what happens when men dominate the workplace and women have to stay quiet to keep their jobs and its what happens when they can’t keep quiet and they report it. Expect that Fox News will cover this story and that Trump will use it as the #MeToo hypocrisy of the Democratic Party. Democratic MSM did a disservice to their Party by not covering this earlier and not letting their voters know the truth…so they could make up their own minds about it.
The Medicare for All veto fear…people who have a lot of Medical debt, who can’t afford their prescriptions, to see a doctor when they need one, or to buy insurance fear that even if they get everyone to agree on a Medicare for All bill, that it will be vetoed when it comes time for Biden to sign it. He made concerns over the costs of it and said he would veto it under certain conditions, so it is a valid concern. It would be really stupid to veto it in the time of the Coronavirus, but this was a discussion he had with Lawrence O’Donnell as recently as a month ago.
I touched on the Neoliberal sentiment briefly in the first part of this section…but didn’t really explain what this would mean to Progressives. A Neoliberal Democrat, is a candidate that favors corporate America and the suburbanites of corporate America more than the working class. To Progressives, there’s almost no comparable difference between them and Republicans…it just means they are a little less evil, because of progressive social issues that have little effect on improving the lives of the Working class. You can marry who you want (which is huge), you have access to abortion (essential for women’s health), you can take part in the wacky tabbaccy without being incarcerated, etc…but you are still going to struggle economically. You won’t be able to send your kids to college without staggering costs and lifelong student loans. You have access to purchasing healthcare, but your insurance is so expensive that you can’t afford to use it, because the deductible will bankrupt you if you have a really bad accident or illness. Unions aren’t effective and continue to be capped at the knees or busted altogether. Corporations are increasingly authoritarian…and its hard to feel like you can bring your whole self there…and if you speak out, God help you. Every year, they will continue to bring more progressive social policy and yet continue to move more right in economic policy. It’s the capitalism that kills you while it tells you how great you have it because of all the social freedoms you have. It’s the “I’m socially progressive, but economically conservative.” It’s the excuse they gave for why they voted for Trump instead of Hillary, because she was too progressive and their taxes would go up….and Trump didn’t say anything bad about the gays. Biden is far less progressive than Hillary was. Hillary was less progressive than Obama said he was. It’s been moving to the right since the 60s and to people in other countries with a wider political spectrum, its so far right, the GOP and DNC are the same party. It’s so to the Right to them, that Bernie Sanders would be a Centrist or Moderate candidate.
Latin immigrants fear deportation under Biden as much as under Trump. Although he denies that the Obama Administration “locked up people in cages,” they actually did. They used the cages when they were overwhelmed at the border…for processing. Although family separations weren’t systemic like they are under Trump and they tended to stick to criminals, as of 2016 they did deport more Latinos than any other Administration. This is why he has a huge problem capturing Latinos…they didn’t forget about the ICE deportations and raids. They see very little difference in a Trump Presidency and a Biden Presidency if he is going to continue Obama’s Legacy.
What am I going to do?
I don’t know just yet. Thats the honest to God truth. I think it is too early to say and I think Biden and his supporters need to do a better job of convincing me to vote for him. Vote shaming will not work with me. Calling me privileged won’t work either..because you are privileged enough to have a candidate that supports your values without majorly compromising everything you believe in. My voting Democrat has always been a compromise and I have always thought their “Progressive ideas” were a good start, but not good enough. I also always thought we had time to be incremental in our progress, but the past 4 years has shown me, that we shouldn’t be when the GOP was anything but incremental with their super majority. Yes, I know we need to let Justice Ginsburg retire and that we need more Democratic judges. I’ve heard your appeals and you saying a vote for anyone else or a non-vote is a vote for Trump, but I really don’t buy it…because we have the electoral college…my vote is statistically irrelevant and the DNC is acting like they don’t need us anyways. If we want to start winning again, get rid of the electoral college, why do we give empty space a vote?
I also have little faith that if Biden wins by a narrow margin, that Trump will accept the loss. He didn’t resign when he was impeached and got his way out of it. There are so many times in the past 4 years that we thought, “Ahh! They will get him on this one and he’s out of there!”…and he wasn’t removed. I don’t think an election will remove him and I don’t have a lot of faith that we will even have an election this year or that if we do it will be dangerous for our health to vote in. I’ll be requesting my vote by mail ballot ASAP at any rate. I do know that down ballot, I will cast my vote for Democratic candidates inside Bernie’s movement wherever I am able. I already have my MN House Rep picked out, this movement can continue on a local, State, and Federal level…just not for the White House this year. My State is pretty blue and my district is pretty Trump red, so I don’t think my Presidential vote will count for much. Either way, at least I don’t feel compelled to volunteer on Biden’s Campaign…it’s not my job this time to convince anyone, it’s the Biden Bros.
But you know what? I will at least do the Biden Bros a solid and answer your canvassing questions without getting toxic and calling you a Russian bot…because, I know what it’s like to be abused by Biden Bros and “Vote Blue No Matter Who” shills…and I’m not a dick. I hate having to admit that Trump supporters were more polite to us and actually nice. Told me to have a nice day versus angry VBNMW rants over a simple canvassing question. I sent out near half a million texts and this is the impression I came away with, that Trump voters were polite and Biden voters or VBNMW voters were total ranting dicks to someone they didn’t even know…someone who was just trying to figure out if they were a door our canvassers should knock on or not. It was pretty eye opening. The Democratic Party has an electability problem, a contempt problem, and a vote entitlement attitude problem and I will fully admit that I had this problem in 2016 with Hillary Clinton. It’s taken me four years to reconcile that with myself. I registered to this party because I believed in the tenants of its platform, that it would be better for our world and country, but its done the opposite of what it promises…and no one on the capitol seems to be able to stand their ground and get anything of substance done. How they handle this Coronavirus Pandemic in the House and Senate is weighing on how I will vote in November very heavily.
Featured Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore @ Flickr.com, cropped at a 2:1 ratio.