June 13, 2016

Bernie or Bust? Well, it all Depends.

Flickr/Tony Webster

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At the beginning of the primary season I made a promise to myself: I will not speak ill of any of the presidential candidates—not in person, not on social media, not even in my heart.

Truth be told, this has been some of the most difficult yoga of my life. I have occasionally faltered, but largely I have kept my promise.

Thankfully, there have been so many positive, inspiring and uplifting things to say about Bernie Sanders and this electrifying revolutionary movement he has galvanized, that I’ve been able to keep bringing my focus back there.

I’m not about to break that vow of right speech, but the truth is that there is something real that we are going to have talk about right now—it just can’t wait. It is a reality that even in the face of a chorus of millions of alienated, frustrated and disenfranchised voters, the Democratic Party elites and media pundits do not seem to be hearing.

So I’m going to come right out and say it very slowly: My. Vote. Can. Only. Be. Earned.

That’s right—and if I may be so bold as to speak on behalf of millions of fellow revolutionaries: Our votes can only be earned.

They can not be demanded, they will never be bought, and they will not be forced. We won’t be threatened or bullied or scared. Name-calling and threats of impending doom will only backfire.

As it becomes more likely that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee, these are the messages I’m hearing all around: “Get in line now. Stop it with your unrealistic lofty ideals. A vote for anyone else is a vote for Trump. Are you a misogynist? You must really be stupid!”

But wait—I’m not buying it. This style of communication is a classic bully’s trick: “Do as I say…no questions, no requests or else something (dum-da-dum-dum) really bad is going to happen to you!”

At this point, it all rings so hollow. Haters gonna hate—trollers gonna troll. I’ve been around long enough to know that just because someone may call me a “sore loser” or a “whiny baby,” it doesn’t make it true. I graduated with honors from Wellesley (yup, same as Hillary), and though I do have many foibles, “stupid” and “uninformed” don’t really apply. Please understand that fear of “the other guy” just isn’t reason enough for millions of us.

I am a feminist, a mother to two young daughters and a lifelong environmental activist. I work for this green earth, I love this country, and I care fervently about the future of a more peaceful world. My love for Bernie and this revolution is all about the issues that he’s fought for over so many decades, issues I have deeply and earnestly researched. The stakes are just too high to take any of this lightly.

Through his actions, Bernie earned my heartfelt vote honestly. When I voted for him in our primary, I was elated to do so. This is how a vote should feel.

History is still being written, and we don’t know how it’s all going to go from here. I may yet have a chance to cast a vote for Bernie Sanders in the general election, but as the possibility of that choice grows more slim, I can say unequivocally: Any other candidate is going to have to make a really good case to earn my vote.

I say with full respect: It is time for Hillary and her team to level with us, be transparent and reassess her positions on quite a long list of issues. I hope she will tell us why we can trust her now, show us with her actions that she understands why we are afraid.

A lot of us are sincerely asking: Why would we cast our precious vote—with all the power and passion behind it—for you? Give us real reasons to believe. I am open to hearing what truly inspiring, progressive commitments and policy positions will be forthcoming now from the Democratic Party.

And if that powerful case just can not be made—with clarity, integrity and respect—then I’m looking forward to joining presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein in her “Plan B” for this revolution.


Author: Danya Rivlin

Image: Flickr/Tony Webster

Editors: Yoli Ramazzina; Renée Picard

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