John Seven: Sanders supporters need to cast their votes wisely


NORTH ADAMS >> The same morning that it was announced Great Britain would leave the European Union, Bernie Sanders, on a morning show on MSNBC, announced that he would, indeed, vote for Hillary Clinton as the most effective measure against Donald Trump's presidency.

Sanders made very clear that his agenda is not winning the nomination — his campaign has said plainly that it no longer courts superdelegates — but instead is much more interested in steering the Democratic platform, which he sees as far more important.

And he has further stated that if people really believe in his message, they will worry less about him becoming president and more about themselves seeking office, making a real effort to take back the country.

Among Sanders' most vigorous supporters, this call seems to be met by crickets and a petition begging the DNC to pick Sanders instead of Clinton, thus missing the entire intent of Sanders' message.

Bernie Sanders understands the dignity and power of voting against something.

As an isolationist with xenophobic overtones, not to mention a failure in business who would bring down our country, Donald Trump is certainly our Brexit, and Bernie Sanders understands what needs to be done to stop it from happening. He understands that voting is not a game you play, that your vote, especially a presidential one, is not always a reflection of your personal politics. Sometimes your vote is a weapon.

A number of British voters didn't seem to understand this. It's obvious from the fact that the younger generation, who needed the country to stay in the EU more than any demographic, did not show up to the polls quite enough. It's obvious from the people who publicly expressed dismay the next day that their vote to leave might actually be harmful to their own life. It's obvious from depressed places like Ebbw Vale, Wales, which voted to leave despite the fact the EU had directly pumped nearly $700 million into it for economic development.

This reminds me of people in the neediest states for whom the Affordable Care Act could make a huge difference, but oppose it for reasons of confused thinking. It reminds me of isolationists in World War II who turned their backs on the greater good, the emergence of true evil and the slaughter of a race.

It reminds me that the American Revolution was an action that favored rich white land owners and slave owners, but also went against a monarchy and hinted at the possibility of freedom for all.

Life is like that, with situations where the greater good is served by lousy choices, where the principled choice might do more damage to your ultimate progressive goals than a compromise that makes you feel momentarily bad.

Hillary Clinton is far, far from perfect, and Jill Stein is a tempting protest vote, but I'm not one for momentary principles canceling far-reaching goals. And Bernie Sanders agrees with me.

Real change comes not always in bright exciting packages, or with instant payoffs. If Jill Stein really wanted to make a difference, she would stop being ignored every four years and run for a seat in Congress. Surely U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has shown the difference one progressive woman can make in seeking a less exciting position, one that would do wonders to legitimize the Green Party as viable. Jill Stein could take a lesson from, which plans to make real change in the least sexy of ways, rather than with presidential elections.

Don't let Trump be our Brexit. Bernie doesn't want that. Change, as he well knows, is painfully slow, and presidential politics is not always a reflection of your soul. Sometimes it's just strategy.

Contact John Seven at Follow him on Twitter @damnjohnseven. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.


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