A few months ago I wrote a piece for the Sisterhood called Why I’m a Feminist For Bernie – and Won’t Apologize for it. Mathematically, Bernie’s path to the nomination has narrowed considerably since then – but little else has changed for me.
The refrain I’ve heard from Hillary supporters has been the same all along, but fiercer since the day of the New York primary, and even more insistent since Trump won the GOP nomination last week – it’s time for Bernie to go gently and quietly into that good night, because it’s Her Turn.
These people – mostly women, mostly feminists like me – are angry. And well they should be, because the industry of Hillary hatred is real and palpable, and steeped in a dangerous stew of toxic masculinity and raw rage.
It’s easy to forget that the ugly character assassinations recently spewed by Trump have been wholly manufactured by the right – long before Bernie became a national figure. When Trump talks about “women cards” and brings up Bill’s infidelity and Hillary’s response, he’s merely drawing from an overfilled trough of anti-Clinton ire that began to flow in 1992 and never stopped.
I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it: I don’t dislike Hillary – I just dislike her center-right approach to the issues I care about most. The vast majority of Bernie’s supporters thrive on their belief in Bernie – not on hating Hillary. (This is what Bernie meant when he said, “People are sick of hearing about your damn emails!” in a debate with Hillary last fall.)
I’ve been in the activist trenches for Bernie – making calls, going door to door, tabling in Washington Square Park, and talking to fellow supporters across the country on organizing calls. Not one single time have I come across a living, breathing “Bernie Bro.” I am not saying they don’t exist, I’m just saying that they’re harder to find than the media might have you believe. It’s true that Bernie supporters are loud and passionate, but they’re almost entirely plugged into issues – into building a lasting movement that will change the United States, and thus the world.
Many of us have waited for a candidate like this for our entire lives – a viable, articulate, passionate progressive with a vision for our country built on racial and economic justice. In my lifetime, a candidate like Bernie has never emerged on the national stage. Legions of Bernie supporters are being maligned for standing up for what feels like a political unicorn we might never see again. In the end, this intra-party war might cause severe damage to the Democrats in the long run – far more than Bernie remaining in the race until the summer.
By this time in 2008, it was clear that Obama was going to sweep, but Hillary stayed in until the very last primary in mid-June. Why is Bernie being asked to leave more than a month before she bowed out? To me, it’s obvious – Hillary supporters never took Bernie, or his beliefs, seriously. They saw him as an annoying gnat at worst or an adorable, but feckless grandfather at best. What Hillary supporters need to understand is that the issues that Bernie has put on the table (and hopefully on the Democratic platform at the convention in July) are deadly serious to us.
From fracking to the minimum wage to single-payer healthcare to tuition-free public college to a carbon tax – these issues are life and death for progressives. We will not stand for incremental change – we are demanding a political revolution.
No one is denying that Trump is a grave danger to the state of our union. His vicious, violent, fascist rhetoric is the worst we’ve seen since the likes of George Wallace – Trump often seems even more dangerous, unhinged and sociopathic. The very idea that this raving lunatic man-child will be getting national security briefings sends a chill up my spine. His hatred of women is even more glaring than his terrible toupee. He’s like an evil cartoon character come to life – let’s call him Misogyny Monster, the id-channeling young boy who was made fun of for his “small hands,” igniting his only super power – the ability to out-yell the rest of the GOP candidates.
I believe that Hillary will win handily in the fall, should she be the nominee. Trump will eventually eat himself, like the orange ouroboros he is.
I was extremely deflated after Bernie’s defeat in New York (however, the vote count is still an ongoing issue). I’d gone to his first rally, on his block in Flatbush, Brooklyn – on East 26th Street, where three generations of my family lived in a two-family house from the 1930s until the 1980’s. It was freezing, but the energy was off the charts. Bernie had 18,000 people at his rally in the Bronx, 27,000 in Washington Square Park, and 28,000 in Prospect Park. If the Democratic Party wants these voters to come out next November, they’ve got to welcome Bernie’s platform at the convention without compromise, full stop. If not, they might just stay home.
57 percent of Democrats want Bernie to stay in until the end, simply because it’s fair. But I want him to stay because he’s fighting for the soul of the Democratic Party. I implore Hillary supporters – let us go all the way with Bernie. Trust me – we’ll all come together in the end, because we understand what’s at stake.
Stefanie Iris Weiss is a New York City-based freelance writer who writes about sexuality, politics and subcultures. Her most recent book is Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable (Random House/Crown Publishing).