As California Sen. Barbara Boxer recently expressed, we “think Bernie’s challenge was a positive thing” — with “was” being the operative word here. Don’t get us wrong, we like Bernie and appreciate all that he has added to the conversation. We are glad that he’s drawing attention to the excesses of Wall Street. But there is no doubt in our mind that Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 is not only the most qualified candidate to run this country, but also the candidate that most clearly represents our values. We are progressives, and as Hillary best put it, “progressives make progress.”
We, of course, like Hillary. But we recognize that it can be almost impossible to convince someone who has preconceived notions to “like” Hillary. The genius of the “She’s just not likable” criticism is that it’s an opinion no one can really question, grounded in “feelings and intuition” more than facts — and no one can “fact-check” your emotions. We will also probably only frustrate you more if we point out that sexism and insidious discomfort with female ambition probably underlie most of these criticisms. (Enough of that conversation for now— but do think about it.)
Instead, we ask you to think about your ideals — which Bernie’s supporters supposedly do often. The Sanders camp has unfairly painted this primary as a contest between optimistic idealists and sellout cynics; the revolutionaries and the establishment cronies; a bright future and the status quo. But we need to stop pretending that Bernie has a monopoly on idealism. Clinton supporters are not ruthlessly pragmatic “hillarybots” — one or maybe both of us may have cried when she finally announced that she was running. When asked — as we often are — if Hillary “really inspires us?”, we answer with a wholehearted, emphatic YES. Even when facing what seem like insurmountable obstacles, we believe that she has what it takes to drive our country forward. While we are by no means voting for Hillary just because she is a woman, we do think having a female president would be, dare we say, revolutionary.
Our biggest problem with Bernie’s supporters’ appeal to ideals and claim that they are the only ones truly committed to the issues, is that, at some point, Sanders’ continued campaign actively hurts Clinton’s chances of winning the general election and continuing the progress of the last eight years. We know that the immediate response to this is that Clinton’s primary victory is not a foregone conclusion — but we tend to disagree. As of Super Tuesday, Clinton’s delegate lead is bigger than Barack Obama’s was at any point in 2008. As a recent FiveThirtyEight article pointed out, “Sanders has won only in relatively small states where black voters make up less than 10 percent of the population.” Even in Massachusetts, a fairly homogenous state that borders Sanders’ home state, Hillary still won. Bernie supporters often point to 2008 as an example of upsetting the “inevitable candidate.” But at this point in the 2008 primary, Obama had more delegates than Clinton. Undoubtedly, Sanders is doing better than most people would’ve imagined a socialist candidate could do in the United States. But doing “better than expected” is not winning.
So, as Sanders’ shot at winning the nomination fades, we ask you again — is your support of Sanders really aligned with your ideals and values? This election isn’t just about where we want this country to go — it’s also about where we don’t want the country to go. Somewhere along the last eight months, Republican candidate Donald Trump went from being a punch line to an irritation to a very real and terrifying possibility. But, this isn’t to say the other GOP candidates are much better. While Sen. Marco Rubio may seem more palatable than Trump, he too has his own backward ideas; he is adamantly opposed to reproductive choice, even in cases of rape or incest. The next president will likely nominate a judge who rules on matters like these.
If Bernie’s supporters are really voting based on their values, we challenge them to articulate which values they are fighting for. By prolonging the infighting and contributing to the unfair narrative surrounding Hillary’s candidacy, Sanders’ camp only increases the chances that we end up with a president who is unconcerned with the issues democratic voters care about: commitment to equal pay, slowing climate change, criminal justice reform — the list goes on.
The stakes are too high to prioritize personal affinity for a candidate over our progressive values. The longer the divisive infighting continues, the closer we inch toward a general election in which Democrats do not rally behind a candidate, and the GOP wins. We’re not telling you to get in line behind the establishment — we are just asking you to put your efforts where your ideals are.
Haley Adams is a senior in Timothy Dwight College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org . Delaney Herndon is a junior in Branford College. Contact her at email@example.com .