Bernie Sanders made a deal with the devil but that does not necessarily make him a sellout. In exchange for his full-throated endorsement of Hillary Clinton, he extracted the following:
- A speaking slot for himself at the Democratic National Convention.
- A promise from Clinton to support a public option (Obamacare is slowly collapsing) and $40 billion in funding for community health centers.
- A promise from Clinton to support debt-free college at public colleges and universities.
Now, Sanders is no dummy. He knows damn well that Clinton’s promises — like the Democratic Party platform — are just fine words, not binding commitments. It is up to him and it is up to us to make those words binding through struggle, organization, and more struggle.
To that end, Sanders is going to energetically campaign all over the country in all 50 states from now until the November general election not only for Clinton but for the entire progressive agenda he campaign on and for specific down-ballot progressives. He will use the Clinton campaign to push his agenda of political revolution, of stimulating mass engagement and grassroots activism in all corners of the country to defeat the special and corporate interests and destroy their stranglehold not only over every level of government but over the Democratic Party as well.
But he can’t do it alone.
People who are screaming ‘sell out’ at Sanders because they didn’t get what they wanted when they wanted it are having a political temper tantrum instead of preparing for the Long March ahead of us — the fight for substantive progressive change under a hostile Clinton administration. That is what we should all be doing regardless of whether we agree or disagree with Sanders’ deal with the devil.
#BernieOrBust sounds really radical and revolutionary, but let’s be honest:
- ‘Bust’ is not going to help a single working person in this country put food on the table, clothes on their back, lower their rent, cover their health care costs, pay their medical bills, raise their wages, or give them a good job.
- ‘Bust’ is not going to overturn Citizen’s United.
- ‘Bust’ is not going to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.
- ‘Bust’ is not going to stop the oceans from rising due to global warming.
- ‘Bust’ is not going to stop either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton from driving this country over a cliff and enriching themselves and their friends along the way.
- ‘Bust’ is not going to abolish the Democratic Party’s anti-democratic superdelegate system.
- ‘Bust’ is not going to turn the Democratic Party into party of the people, for the people, and by the people.
No matter who you vote for in November, #BernieOrBust as a strategy for change is a non-starter. ‘Bust’ is a betrayal of everything Sanders has stood for and fought for all his life, long before many of us were even born. Every time he ran in an election and lost, he got up and ran again. And again. And again. He did not quit and go bust — and neither should we.
If Sanders had endorsed Clinton and in doing so declared the political revolution victorious, then yes, he would be a sellout, a fraud, a repeat of candidate Obama con on a greater scale. But that’s not what he did. His campaign — which isn’t suspended, by the way — may have utterly flubbed the messaging and the rollout, but the struggle continues.
The next fight ahead of us is for open primaries at the Democratic Party’s rules committee and from there, the convention floor where at a minimum there will be a roll call vote for Sanders.
The November election is not just about which crook will be president, it is about whether (or to what extent) right-wing Republicans continue to control the House of Representatives and Senate. Sanders needs support now more than ever to ensure that he has maximum clout in January 2017 when a new Senate is seated.
The only way to make sure the tens of millions of dollars we raised and tens of thousands of volunteer hours phonebanking, Facebanking, and canvassing for Sanders does not go to waste is to stick with him and keep fighting the good fight as he always has even when no one was looking. It won’t be easy but nothing worthwhile ever is.
Do. Not. Yield.