As the Democratic primary season started, even early Bernie Sanders supporters were ready to fall in line behind whoever won, even if it was Hillary Clinton. Sanders himself has said many times he would support whoever wins the nomination and not run as a third party candidate, but a lot has happened since those first debates and primaries. Now, “Bernie or bust” supporters have gone from a small minority, to a growing tidal wave of angry voters as allegations of election fraud and voter disenfranchisement stack up. Or, to put it in more blunt terms, cheating.
As horrible as Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are as potential presidents, neither of them are engaging in voter disenfranchisement and fraud to steal the nomination. The DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz are convinced that given the GOP candidates, we have no other choice but to get on board and support Hillary Clinton, no matter how dishonest and corrupt their primary and the candidate.
They are wrong; dead wrong.
First and foremost, if we support Hillary Clinton after the blatant cheating and trampling of our democracy, we will send a message to the Democratic party that they are free to rig an election for whatever candidates they want, which are candidates that do not represent the working class, candidates who are indebted to big banks, fossil fuel companies, prisons for profit, and even the NRA. Candidates like Hillary Clinton.
Sanders supporters understand perfectly well the damage that can be done by a Trump or Cruz over the course of four years, but what is the cost of giving up our very democracy?
By that standard alone, as sickening as it is to Bernie Sanders supporters, they simply cannot vote for Hillary Clinton in good conscience. There comes a time when you have to stand up for principle, and this is that time, no matter how painful it is. Along those lines, since Bernie Sanders got into the Democratic primary race, he maintains that that no matter who wins the primary, he will not run as a third-party candidate because it could help hand a victory to the Republican party. Four months ago I would have agreed, but no more.
Here’s the thing: that principle applies in this situation only when Hillary Clinton wins the nomination fair and square. Or even something remotely resembling fair and square. But as the Clintons become more and more desperate, the cheating and disenfranchisement has become more and more blatant, and it can’t be brushed off anymore as coincidence or crazy conspiracy theories.
It started out with the DNC database leak caused by the management company with ties to Clinton and DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, even though the Sanders campaign had previously warned of security problems. Of course, the Sanders campaign person who was fired should not have downloaded the data, but it smacks of a set up that allowed Wasserman Schultz to try to shut down the campaign and close them out of database access.
After a huge surge of protests and a lawsuit filed by the Sanders campaign, the DNC relented and restored their access to crucial campaign data, and things settled down. If it stopped there, it would’ve been easy to say that maybe the data breach wasn’t a set-up but simply incompetence, to be blunt.
Sanders’ supporters could have maybe overlooked the fact that corporate media outlets who are huge Clinton campaign contributors all but refused to give him any coverage, and the original limited debate schedule meant to draw as few viewers as possible. Irritating, but most Sanders’ supporters could overlook that.
But then things started getting really ugly, with Bill Clinton entering polling sites in Massachusetts and using his security detail to keep polling sites in Sanders-friendly districts closed for several hours. There was no legal action taken against the former president under the guise that as long as he wasn’t directly campaigning for his wife by saying her name, he didn’t violate election rules.
Is there anyone that doesn’t know who Bill Clinton supports? He doesn’t have to say “Please vote for Hillary” for people to know who he’s campaigning for. It was clearly a violation of election rules that was allowed to slide, and the Clintons have continued walking the line in subsequent primaries on keeping the proper distance from polling places.
Many Sanders’ supporters can overlook that, as well. But the Clintons and the DNC didn’t stop there.
In Florida, there were rumors of people not being able to vote with lost registrations, but as Florida was such a landslide anyway it probably didn’t make too much of a difference. But then there were videos showing that Clinton’s campaign representatives in Iowa did everything in their power to manipulate the caucus convention tallies in her favor, calling for endless recounts until they got a number they liked and many people gave up or had to leave.
This is about the time that the “Bernie or bust” movement really started taking hold, and even those, like myself, who did not want to vote for Trump or Cruz started grappling with the very real problem on principle with supporting Clinton if she “wins” the nomination.
And then there was Arizona, the real turning point. This is when the full meltdown began, with reduction of literally hundreds of polling places forcing people to wait in line five to six hours or more. Plus many voters were turned away because they were told that they were either no longer registered, or their party affiliation had been changed from Democrat to Independent or not affiliated at all. Even Arizona’s Secretary of State acknowledged there was voter suppression, yet nothing has been done. This is when Hillary Clinton and the DNC made it clear they would stop at nothing to wrap up this primary election, even on top of stacking the deck with party loyalists and Clinton supporters as superdelegates.
Now we have a lawsuit pending in New York because more than 100,000 Brooklyn voters were purged from registration altogether “by accident” where Sanders grew up and the strongest base of his New York supporters. They were purged by a woman who we now hear received $6.6 million selling a piece of property to the daughter of a Clinton superdelegate two years ago. Please note that it raised eyebrows, even at the time, because it was such an outrageous over-payment for the property in question. Now many see it in a somewhat more serious light.
With an extraordinary number of voters saying that their party affiliation was changed or registration purged altogether, there are also disturbing allegations of polling places not opening on time, and one in Brooklyn opening on time, but missing voting booths. Exit polls showed a close race in New York, but the final result wasn’t close at all.
And now, going back to Illinois, we have testimony about manually-counted voter data being changed to favor Clinton even though the count showed Sanders had won in a precinct. And these are just the voter suppression cases coming to light through small independent media. How many more are unreported? Is it any wonder that Sanders’ supporters are spitting mad and vowing they will never vote for Hillary Clinton?
So how do we choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, when one side means electing a disaster of a president who will get to nominate at least one Supreme Court justice from the looks of things, or choosing someone that the Democratic party crowns the nominee by voter suppression?
Bernie Sanders is a man of his word, and when he said that he would not run as a third party candidate and would support whoever got the nomination, he meant it. He said it because he wants to do what is best for this country, because his candidacy is not about his personal ambition for power and to be the Commander-in-Chief. Sanders cares about people and is a public servant, but that’s the very reason why Sanders needs to reconsider running as an Independent.
When Sanders said he would never run as a third party candidate, he said that in good faith that there would be a fair primary election. That hasn’t happened. And while there is still technically a path to victory in the Democratic primary, with more huge closed primaries coming up in states like California, it’s pretty much a given that there will be further problems and voter manipulation. Why should the DNC and the Clintons stop now when they are getting away with stealing the nomination? Basically, the DNC and Clinton are going to do whatever they have to do to get the delegates needed to win the nomination. But if it isn’t a fair fight, then Sanders is no longer bound to honor his word not to run as a third party candidate.
Sanders said he wanted to do what was best for this country, and what’s best for this country is for Bernie Sanders to run as a third party candidate.
This idea will bring out the DNC and party insiders screaming that that’s handing the Republican party the presidency, but that simply isn’t true. Trump is a weak candidate, and Cruz even weaker in a general election. With Bernie Sanders’ momentum growing, and with the lack of scandal or an FBI indictment looming against him, he will only grow stronger as November comes closer.
Bernie Sanders can beat Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in a general election. This is the only good choice left now for this country. With the Democratic party now irreparably broken and many vowing they will write in Sanders in protest – plus the thrashing Clinton will get at the hands of Trump and the GOP, if she isn’t indicted first — Clinton will not win the general election regardless of what Sanders does. There is only one option to save democracy and to save this country from the disaster of a GOP presidency.
Bernie Sanders must run as a third party candidate. You started a revolution, Bernie, and now we need you to see it through.
[Photo by AP Photo/Evan Vucci]