My late father, a schoolteacher and, later, school principal, used to say to me, “If you’re gonna be a bear, be a grizzly.” As a strong boots on the ground liberal, I’ve joined protests and rallies all over the country for progressive causes, from DC to Nebraska; I’ve been a lifelong Dem and true liberal – and then came election 2016. And here I am today, an Obama voter twice, a staunch Bernie supporter, a Demexit’er, and a liberal progressive who cast my vote for Donald Trump. It wasn’t enough for me to just be a bear, in my mind, after months and months of battling hard against hard-core Clinton cultists on social media, going head to head with thousands of friends and followers, taking a firm stand against Hillary Clinton and everything she stands for; no, I took dad’s advice, and this “bitching” Bernie supporter went grizzly. What’s more, I don’t have a second’s regret – zero, zip, nada, zilch.
Somehow, to false-flagging progressives and Clinton cultists, my absolute, steadfast refusal to support Hillary Clinton – and my choice to campaign actively against her candidacy on social media, where I have thousands of friends and followers, and a wide open Facebook wall – was the most traitorous act anyone could commit (far more than any of her transgressions, which they’ve conveniently ignored from day one). To them, I gave up every progressive street cred I ever had – and that was way before I began to state publicly that I was going to vote for Trump. I’d been to more protests and rallies all over the country on behalf of progressive causes, written more articles on behalf of progressive causes, and bashed more Republicans than any of these people, and yet my progressive bona fides were unworthy and were consistently called into question – unless I agreed to support their chosen candidate (then, presumably, they’d love me again). For years, I had been a very strong progressive voice on Facebook, consistently standing against Republican agendas, and these people praised me and heaped accolades on me and couldn’t get enough of my opinions – until I exercised my progressive right to reject their very un-progressive chosen candidate. Then, I was condemned, castigated, called “teabagger” and accused of being part of the “Republican smear machine.” Suddenly, any brilliance they thought I had when I was bashing Republicans turned to mud, and my incendiary posts against Clinton were nothing but black marks against my liberalism. Suddenly, when I was no longer bashing Republicans and was bashing their chosen candidate, these so-called progressives didn’t want to hear me – and, in fact, told me repeatedly that I should quit posting about it (although not quite that politely).
I started predicting the American version of Brexit months ago – but they wouldn’t listen. I predicted that the head-in-the-sand approach by Clinton supporters about her many vulnerabilities and lack of trustworthiness was dangerous; I told them that their belittling agenda, the insults and dismissive attitude toward Bernie supporters, was fatal; I told them that winning friends and influencing people didn’t include telling Bern’ers and anti-Clinton progressives that Clinton didn’t need us and that we needed to sit our whining asses down. Over and over I told them that millions of people weren’t behind her, that we wouldn’t come back into the fold – and they didn’t listen. Those of us who adored Bernie watched during the primary as Clinton & Co. dismissed Bernie supporters as pie-in-the-sky lunatics who were following a starry-eyed, inept candidate full of unrealistic dreams. We watched them gloat about superdelegates and how Clinton had it on lock; we heard them mock us, taunt us, insult us.
And then came Wikileaks, and all of our suspicions about collusion and rigging and the efforts by the Dem establishment, the DNC, the media, and Clinton and her crew to actively sabotage Bernie were proven true – and not only proven true, but were even worse than we thought. We wanted Bernie, and instead they said, “Oh, no no, that’s not gonna happen, we squashed that, we made sure that won’t happen, we made our back-room deals to assure that won’t happen – but here’s a neo-liberal, lying, corrupt war hawk instead. Get on board.”
This whole thing has been an evolution for me. After Bernie was eviscerated by the powers-that-be, and before the dump of Wikileaks, I was still staunchly, resolutely anti-Clinton, but hedged my bets a little. Johnson? Stein? Write in Bernie? More Wikileaks came out, more mean-spirited sniping, more back-and-forth about insulting Bernie and his supporters and voters in general while keeping us “marginally on board.” We learned how the Clinton coalition, the Dem establishment, the DNC, had planned to pay lip service to Bernie supporters, were planning to throw us a meaningless bone at the Convention to try to bring us into the “stronger together” camp. The DNC, from Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to Donna Brazile, the Clinton crew, and the Dem establishment had nothing but disdain for Bernie and his millions of faithful supporters, completely believed we were a clueless basket of deplorables, and thought that we’d be so grateful for a crumb or two that we’d get right on the Clinton train. Thanks to Wikileaks, their train derailed:
Bernie and his people have been bitching about super delegates . . . Why not throw Bernie a bone and reduce the super delegates in the future . . . So if we ‘give’ Bernie this in the Convention’s rules committee, his people will think they’ve ‘won’ something from the Party Establishment. And it functionally doesn’t make any difference anyway. They win. We don’t lose. Everyone is happy.
I guess they thought, who couldn’t refuse an offer like that? We stayed demeaned, belittled, and tricked, while they happily gobbled up Bernie supporters – along with their donations – and gave Clinton a sweep. And they were shocked we didn’t bite. The thing is, I didn’t just read the Wikileaks emails, I devoured them whole. The Dem establishment schemed about things I hadn’t even thought of, came up with new and clever ways to demolish Bernie, personally and politically, and stabbed every single Democrat in the back with their gleeful mocking. And with that ringing in my ears, I heard my “friends” on social media tell me how wrong I was, how traitorous I was, how Clinton was the best thing since sliced bread, how she was the only thing that stood between us and Trump, who was the most dangerous demagogue, fascist, racist, homophobe on the planet. But a funny thing happened on the way to election day: I rejected those highly scripted fear tactics, rejected those disingenuous pledges to fight for and respect “all Americans,” rejected their forked-tongue rehash of party lines and attack lines and promises. See, I was the one they dismissed, demeaned, belittled, insulted, disrespected, was the one they were going to pacify with a big basket of nothing, was the one they thought they’d fool, was the one whose intelligence they insulted every single day as they urged me to buy into their garbage. Trump didn’t insult me; the Dems did.
About a week before the election, after I’d done the mental wrestling, after I’d listened over and over to the absolutely arrogant, haughty, smug, entitled, rude Clinton cultists, I made up my mind: The only vote of integrity for me, as someone who loathed Clinton and had stood my ground against her candidacy from the beginning, who believed she’d destroy pure progressive values for decades, and had been willing to take the incredible progressive blowback that came with it, was to cast a vote directly for Clinton’s opponent, Donald Trump. For me, a vote for Stein or Johnson, a write-in for Bernie, would have been the greatest form of cop-out. I wanted – needed – to know that my vote would go directly toward defeating her, and there was only one way to be sure of that. As a newly registered independent, I voted for Donald Trump. And the moment I did, a wave of relief came over me, a wave of absolute pride that, regardless of the consequences, my integrity was intact. I hadn’t folded, I hadn’t copped out, they hadn’t fooled me, and any victory would be a Pyrrhic one.
But there was no victory for them. They lost. They fooled some deluded sycophants, but the lion’s share jumped ship. A week before the election, I had been very vocal that, not only was I rejecting Clinton, I was voting for Trump. Heads exploded, insults rained down on me, I was condemned. I had done nothing to any of them except exercise my right to vote as I choose, and reject the candidate they thought I should vote for – and yet, progressives I’d know for years blocked and unfriended me. After the election, when I said, yeah, you assholes, you broke it, you bought it, I voted for Trump, the level of rage and vitriol and hatred directed toward me was beyond anything I’d ever seen in politics in my lifetime. I literally got a death threat, was compared with Hitler. The hypocrisy of the supposed progressives who’d been my staunchest supporters has been breathtaking. And all because I rejected the candidate that they chose for me, they stacked the deck in favor of, they put their thumb on the scale on behalf of. Nothing but that. I voted my conscience – and have become a lightning rod for progressive hatred as a result.
As Chicago/Atlanta rapper Mpulse said, “People love freedom of speech until you exercise your right of freedom of speech and they disagree.” I always thought Dems were the good guys, until now. I thought I’d be a lifelong Dem – but I Demexited. Oh, I fought the good fight, all right – just not the one they wanted. I didn’t fight their fight – and in their eyes, my rights didn’t, don’t, exist. As Wikileaks exposed, I was never intended to be anything but a pawn, was never expected to think for myself, was never respected as someone who might have independent thoughts and beliefs, would have been just one more check box in their “fooled ’em” column.
I was supposed to be a good soldier, but I put on a different uniform. Clinton supporters, these fraudulent progressives I deal with every day, didn’t care about my rights or my values (in fact, they routinely mocked both) – they cared only about power and winning. And that’s why they lost – and will lose again. When you lose and don’t examine the reason for it, are completely clueless and couldn’t care less, if you’d rather heap hatred then figure out how to right the ship, you’ll always lose. But without the Dem albatross around my neck, going forward, I won’t feel keenly all the losses Dems are determined to sustain by their sneering, bull-headed, arrogant attitude. Their losses won’t be mine – and in fact, this time I contributed to the greatest loss they could imagine, a potentially fatal, and well-deserved, body blow to the Democratic Party.