To Bernie supporters who refuse to vote Clinton

posted May 8, 2016

I admire your outrage and dedication to ideals. I share many, if not all, of your hopes and dreams for what our country could be. I took months to decide before voting in my state’s primary, but I chose Bernie. I think he has the best chance against Trump in a general election. More importantly, I think he wants all Americans to prosper.

Unlike you though, I will vote for Hillary Clinton if she gets the nomination. There is nothing I can do to keep you from staying home, or writing in, or voting Trump. If a year from now The Donald is our leader, I will not resent you for the part you played in his victory, but you will have played a part.

If Clinton gets the nomination, for you, a horrible choice presents itself: Nixon or Hitler.

If you can’t actively make that choice, I understand, but whatever you choose to do or not do your actions will support one of those two outcomes. The Green Party is not going to elect a president. A clear majority is not going to bring about the first write-in victory in U.S. election history (7 states don’t even allow write-in candidates). Staying at home is not going to make it all go away.

Protesting with the only power you have, your vote, will not matter after the party nominations have been made. Whatever you do you are directly or indirectly voting for Trump or Clinton, because one of them will be our next president.

In the abstract I respect your conviction. I even admire it, if I ponder it completely out of context. Similarly, if I imagine myself a Jew in 1930’s Poland, I see myself fighting to the death or walking with my head high into a camp. I’m Louis Zamperini, tortured beyond belief, but strong and resilient. Unbroken.

This is a total fantasy. If Trump is elected there will cease to be meaningful opportunities for poetic gestures. Any inspiration I can share during a Trump presidency will not change the course of history until the collective decisions we made run their course. In the same way that most people with addictions don’t give up their behavior until they hit bottom, you will do what you think you must. We will all hit bottom together, and then the simple but universal desire to live will force a shift in perspective.

For me that perspective has been forced, and I want to do more than survive. Many of you will protest until you are behind a fence with no one to listen but the imprisoned journalist next to you. I see the elegance in that, the artistry even. I won’t hear stirring music in my head when I vote for Hillary. I’d rather defiantly write “Bernie fucking Sanders” on my ballot, because that would definitely come with its own mental soundtrack, but the time for beautiful bits of drama is over for me.

My ideals won’t comfort me under a Trump presidency and I will no doubt reflect on what we let happen for the years it destroys us. I will see your role in this, and mine, and I won’t have anything but compassion for our collective folly, for one simple reason:

You will suffer alongside me.

Our ideals, our belief that we can be revolutionaries, our indignation with the decades of slights and humiliations, will be empty theatrics in the new reality of an openly racist, sexist, and xenophobic country. We won’t have time to give any of these abstract ideas the attention they deserve. I’ll likely lose my healthcare, others may lose their right to marry the person they love. I cannot begin to imagine the suffering American Muslims will endure. We will be bloodied children huddled in the midst of devastation who gave up every chance we had to avoid this because we didn’t like the shelter being offered.

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