Written May 2016
I am feeling the Bern.
This past year, having lived in Vermont for ten, I had a keen eye on our Senator Bernie Sanders. His message about the top 1% corruption was aired and discussed with Wolf Blitzer, and ignited a new hope within me I’d never thought I’d see in politics. Could it be, we actually had an honest politician among us who was willing to risk everything to go up against Wall Street? His message was clear: he’s going to do his best to give the country back to its people, out of corporate hands. OUR country. He’s going to continue to fight for the people. And not just in a pat-you-on-the-head sort of way, but real policies ready to set into motion to get America out of their depressed state of being.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign took note, leaning more left; taking on much of Bernie’s tone she’d previously been more conservative about. Not a bad thing. Only annoying as she tried to pass it off as hers. Even more annoying the media favored her, and called his proposals unrealistic.
The third debate between the Democratic candidates was when I lost respect for Hillary. Bernie, allergic to mud slinging, was forced to defend his voting record against Hillary’s misinterpretations (manipulations?) of Bernie’s issues and record. I watched in angst as the media presented it as though Bernie had instigated the attacks.
While the race isn’t officially over until July, latest polls show Hillary is most likely going to be the Democratic nominee. My twitter feed has been buzzing with “History Made” memes, and news articles telling me this was a great day for women everywhere. It’s shoved down my throat that I’m anti-feminist if I don’t support Hillary. Friends and loved ones are urging me to get behind Hillary, to unite the party, to be sure I vote for her because she is “the lesser of two evils”.
I’m supposed to embrace my womanhood, and be excited Hillary is our Democratic candidate.
But I can’t.
I’m angry. Heartbroken. I feel robbed. Of course, I’m proud to be a woman. Of course, I want to have a female presidential candidate (and POTUS!). Of course, I think Hillary is qualified. And I definitely want to be able to tell my children about this historic moment.
But I can’t.
I understand what she’s up against. I can see who she’s fighting and I choose not to name him. Because naming the current GOP candidate gives him exactly what he wants: attention. I understand the philosophy of “a vote for so-and-so is a vote taken away from her and given to him”, ruling out the option for Bernie to run third party.
But I’m not excited. Instead, as someone who’s been passionate about politics the majority of her life, I find myself in this weird position of not wanting to vote. Right now, I’m angry. Her nomination isn’t going to change anything. It’s going to be much of the same. Just because she’s a woman doesn’t change the fact that she’s voted for war, or lied, or kicked Black Lives Matter protesters out of her rallies, or taken money from Wall Street, or maybe even rigged this process with the Democratic National Committee.
I can’t get behind that. Because that’s still so much of the same.
Maybe I sound like a loon. A bitter, sore loser. Or a “Bernie Bro” as we’ve been coined. Or maybe I just strongly believe America deserves better and is ready for change. Hard, significant change where it’s okay to vote your heart. It’s okay to imagine a better life where we all care about one another. Kind, positive change that is ours and not part of corporate America.
So, no, I don’t have to support Hillary. Please stop telling me I have to. November is far enough away, I have time to think about it. I’ve followed the Clintons for many years and now I’m ready for something different. I don’t know what I’ll decide on Election Day, but I do know I’m not any less of a woman because I question a presidential nominee who’s female and the way politics have been run in my home country.
And if that makes me a Bernie Bro, then I guess I am.