Like a drunken party-goer waking up with a hangover and a new, awful tattoo, so is the United States of America. Donald Trump, the least qualified candidate to run for president, actually won. And he won impressively. At last count, his electoral college vote total was closing in on 280.
And as Hillary voters point the finger of blame at progressives who wouldn’t vote for her, they are missing the bigger picture. Jill Stein was no spoiler. She got less than 1 percent of the votes, which is hardly a dent in the overall numbers.
Then there is the shaming and bitter congratulations from Clinton supporters blaming us “uncompromising” voters who decided to have Election Day tantrums because Bernie wasn’t on the ballot.
As President-elect Trump would say, “Wrong.”
It wasn’t just progressive Democrats who had called the party their political home for years that caused Clinton’s downfall. It was all the other people who would have voted for Bernie Sanders. And while the Democratic Party is calling Trump’s win a victory for hate, it’s more of a big middle finger to the establishment by millions of people who feel marginalized and disenfranchised by the system.
Bernie Sanders was the true uniter for the Democrats. Bernie, who caucused with the Democrats and paid membership dues to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee for years, was able to pull voters from every corner of the political spectrum. Bernie attracted voters with his passionate, populist message of togetherness and unity in fighting corruption. He gained the support of just about everyone who took the time to listen to him. And the people in charge laughed at him.
They’re not laughing now.
Remember the time when Bernie gave a speech at Liberty University? He was heartily applauded. Remember the evangelical Republican who wrote of his support for Bernie, calling his policies most closely aligned with Jesus? I do. Last September, New York Magazine interviewed Jim the Pastor, who posted a voice clip on Reddit about why Bernie had gained his support.
“As I heard Bernie Sanders crying out to the religious leaders at Liberty University, in his hoarse voice, with his wild hair — this Jew — and he proclaimed justice over us, he called us to account, for being complicit with those who are wealthy and those who are powerful, and for abandoning the poor, the least of these, who Jesus said he had come to bring good news to.”
When asked to expand on this original statement, Jim revealed the biblical passage that broke his belief that Jesus was a “warrior with a sword.”
“I came upon this passage, ‘Come all you weary with your heavy loads.’ As I read that, it just shattered me because I had been taught politically that Jesus was a warrior. Jesus was a king with a sword and was aggressive. And here was this gentle Christ who was inviting me into a loving relationship.
So that was a huge turning point for me. I proposed that the gospel of Christ is what he says it is in the Book of Luke. He says the messenger comes to bring good news to the poor, to heal the sick, and to set the captives free. If our gospel is not good news to the poor, to the captives, to the indebted and the broken, then it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
And he was hardly alone in his sentiment that Bernie was the solution this country needed for its ills. On the old subreddit r/SandersForPresident, I read thread after thread of libertarians and lifelong Republicans supporting Bernie because every other candidate was unpalatable to them.
“At least he’s honest,” they’d say.
As the trending hashtag said late on election night, it #ShouldaBeenBernie in the general election.
Republicans, evangelicals, Greens, and Libertarians. The Working Family Party. Independents and Democrats. Bernie was bringing in the enthusiasm. Bernie was gathering voters from every walk of life, and every step of the way, he was mocked and ridiculed by Clinton supporters as “unelectable.”
Bernie was locked out of the mainstream media and still he gained a large following.
In November of last year, Bernie gave a speech at Georgetown University about Democratic Socialism. During his impassioned monologue, he described U.S. programs that are already socialist in nature: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, collective bargaining, job programs, banking regulations, and deposit insurance.
But months later, when the Democratic primaries began, voters and poll observers reported widespread problems. Voters disenfranchised meant fewer people cast ballots for him. Democrats all over the nation reported their registrations were mysteriously changed, many of whom who were lifelong members of the party.
In Illinois, poll workers were witnessed changing paper ballots to match the machine tallies. In Nevada, delegates were bullied, threatened, and lied about for raising attention to the rigged caucus process. California experienced a huge surge in voter registration, and much of that was due to younger voters registering for the first time, a harbinger of a possible Bernie win. Election analyst Richard Charnin put the odds of Clinton beating Bernie in the state at 77 billion to one. And yet, Clinton still won, even when the hand counts were showing he was winning after all.
Pundits and pollsters didn’t seem to see this coming, and all night sat in shock while reporting a Trump win.
But Bernie supporters — and even Trump supporters — saw this day coming, one way or another. I was expecting Clinton to win, but only by election fraud. The fact that at least one faithless national elector, according to the AP, defected from her was a surprising turn.
And because the DNC was revealed to be so utterly corrupt, down-ballot Democrats suffered, including a Bernie Sanders favorite, Zephyr Teachout, who lost her congressional battle against Republican John Faso.
But Clinton’s campaign angered young and old progressives alike, and they were important elements to winning the election. In February, feminist Gloria Steinem and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright scolded Bernie supporters as boy chasers and female misogynists. And then there was the time that Clinton herself said Bernie voters were “living in their parents’ basements” and called Trump supporters a “basket of deplorables.”
Clinton’s “let them eat cake” attitude toward voters who did not like her alienated a large, large portion of potential Democratic voters. When WikiLeaks began releasing its Podesta Emails, Americans who read them began to see the true nature of her campaign.
In those emails voters learned that the campaign was urged to crush Bernie relentlessly. They threw Bernie supporters a bone with Democratic platform concessions, we discovered the massive web of collusion between the DNC, mainstream media, pro-Clinton SuperPACs, and the Clinton campaign itself. We found out the Clinton Foundation illegally paid for Chelsea’s wedding.
And yes, while the racists shout for joy at a Trump win, progressives are gritting their teeth and preparing for four long, hard years of battle against Republicans, who mostly won because of backlash against Clinton. This isn’t the end. Oh, no. But maybe this resounding lashing will finally wake up the shattered Democratic Party to the realization that it should have been Bernie all along.
[Featured Image by Star Shooter/AP Images]