“Bernie or Bust” – it’s an integrity thing

There’s a lot of rending of garments and gnashing of teeth (as well as debates that would turn into fisticuffs were it not social media) on the Democratic side this election cycle – those who support Hillary Clinton cannot understand the mindset of the voters who are saying “Bernie or Bust,” who have made a conscious, informed decision not to support Clinton if she gets the nomination.  I call it “integrity-based voting,” and many of us believe – no, check that, we know – that personal integrity is not a fluid thing.  We feel strongly about Bernie Sanders, of course, but there’s a more important element here than slavish devotion to Bernie:  It’s our time, maybe our only time in the years to come, to make the strongest statement possible to our party leaders, to the establishment, to the media, the big players who have done everything they could to force Hillary Clinton, the quintessential establishment candidate, on us, a candidate who so many of us find more than simply flawed.  From the DNC’s clear bias in its lopsided debate schedule (which benefited Clinton), to the early Bernie Blackouts by the mainstream media, to the pundits on prime time who, while singing Clinton’s praises, have failed to disclose their financial and political ties to Hillary Clinton, to the economists who have desperately tried, en masse, to discredit Bernie Sanders’ economic policies.  Bernie Sanders has said over and over that the system is rigged.  A great majority of the voting public, on both sides, is seeing the wisdom in those words.

Sure, some will say, that’s how politics is played – and it is.  But the vehemence and desperation of Clinton and her establishment cronies to make this happen has soured many voters in this election cycle who are just as desperate for something different.  The way the DNC and the Clinton camp planned this thing out reminded me of the movie Disclosure, in which attorney Catherine Alvarez laid out the way in which an abusive female executive orchestrated a sexual seduction with a subordinate:

The point is you controlled the meeting. You set the time. You ordered the wine. You locked the door. You demanded service and then got angry when he didn’t provide it. So you decided to get even, to get rid of him with this trumped up charge. Ms. Johnson, the only thing you have proven is that a woman in power can be every bit as abusive as a man!

This is what we have been faced with.  The DNC controlled the debates, set the times, the powerful Democratic establishment influenced the media and the pundits, causing Bernie’s success to be ignored, and in that way, they locked Bernie out.  They demanded – and still demand – that we fall in line, and now Clinton supporters are horribly angry that those of us who feel terribly manipulated by this absolutely rigged system are unwilling to just swallow hard and get in lockstep.

What they tell us has a ring of truth, that a large movement that turns its back on the eventual (not “inevitable,” but eventual) Democratic nominee risks an outcome it won’t like.  We’re not naive and we’re not simply idealists:  But what we realize is that change is only wrought through a commitment to make it happen, through risk, through sacrifice, through sheer tenacity.  We know that if we bend to the will of the establishment in this race, at this juncture, it will simply teach the DNC and powerful Democratic operatives that we can, in fact, be manipulated, that we can, in fact, be swayed by fear, that the risk of a Donald Trump as president is sufficient to force us to shed our integrity.  The Democratic powers, led by Hillary Clinton, have worked hard to instill fear in us, to grimly forecast a Trump or Cruz presidency, if we don’t get on board with their chosen nominee.  While many of us grimace at the thought of what a Republican presidency would look like, our resolve to carry this through to the end, to send a resounding message to the Clinton dynasty and the DNC and paid political operatives and others housed within the very close, inner circle of the Democratic establishment, is stronger than the fear they work to instill in us.  Sometime the chips just have to fall where they may.

They use words like “loyalty” and “duty” and “vote Blue!” to ensure our cooperation.  But so many of us think about how different it could have been, from the beginning, if the playing field had been level for both Democratic candidates, if money and power and the reliance on past political relationships, and the ambitious forging of future ones, hadn’t been such a driving force in the political landscape.  We all know this, we all always knew this, but suddenly, in this election cycle, it’s become very clear just how our will has been subverted to the ends they chose for us.  Just because this game has been played for so long doesn’t mean it’s too late to eject some of the players.

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A very, very wise person I have always admired once said something that resonates today, in our fight to break the chains the Democratic establishment is valiantly trying to drape around us:

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

President Obama has never led me astray.  I believed those words in 2008, and I still believe them today.