By JULIA KASSEM, Staff Writer
Sanders’s supporters have felt the Bern. Unfortunately, they may have felt the crash hardest.
This election was a reflection of disillusionment with establishment politics. Their common grievance was channeled into their support for alternative candidates that transcend and transgress parties that seldom represented Americans and candidates unyielding to their demands. While the differences in principles, experiences, platforms, and rhetoric between Sanders and Trump are astronomical, both candidates were successful in capturing messages that resonated with ordinary Americans.
Therefore, it comes as a cruel irony that Hillary Clinton, the scourge of both the progressive Left and many spectrums of the Right, now is the democratic forerunner. This situation, underscored by the revelations of the Democratic National Committee’s doings, is now putting moderate Republicans, and, especially, Sanders’ supporters, in a compromising position on who to vote for come November. Contrary to assumptions held by older generations, millennials are actually very engaged and invested in voting. A recent GenForward survey shows that 16 percent of voters 18-30 are planning to sit it out and 9% have still not decided; significant compared to 18% of committed Trump supporters and 36% of those voting for Clinton.
Yet, the importance of our participation in the political process, time and time again, has been reiterated. The complications of this demand arise as our vote in this November’s election will ask us to make a rational decision in the advent of some very irrational circumstances.
Unfortunately, the Sanders campaign became hostage to the cult of personality that his principle-driven political revolution sought to transgress. While party politics and the cult of personality certainly aren’t limited to “feeling the Bern”, it is important that the progressives that his campaign comprised of follow his example and refocus their energies on the political revolution that held a lot more at stake than his campaign alone.
However, I cannot put everything at risk for the sake of this disenchantment. A Trump presidency is not worth abstaining or voting one’s conscience and, frankly, expressing my disillusionment with the outcome of the primaries is not one to be effectively made at the national election polls. Strategically voting is not an expression of defeat, but a complex cost-benefit analysis that does not mark the absolute end, nor the beginning, of my political participation. It’s not an act of defeat, but of agency that we choose our next chief executive.
One is not selling out their beliefs in voting for one of the two candidates. In a very important election, there is so much at stake besides the two forerunners to consider before throwing in the towel:
The appointment of Supreme Court justices
Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of our constitution delegates the President power to appoint federal judges, ambassadors and other elected officials.Should President Barack Obama be unable to convince the Senate to confirm his nominee, Chief Judge Merrick Garland, the next president elect will be tasked with filling vacancies on the court following the death of Antonin Scalia. Should a liberal judge be elected, a huge ideological shift in the Supreme Court could be observed.
Would a Trump-appointed federal judge be worth your discontent?
2. Trump will go beyond maintaining the status quo-regardless of consequences
Would a candidate who vows to scrap Roe v. Wade, proposed to ban Muslim immigrants and deport 11 million Mexican immigrants, reject monumental diplomatic agreements such as the Iran Deal and the Paris Climate Agreement, accelerate the use of torture (to something “much, much worse” than waterboarding), scrap any prospects for securing and expanding social security, Medicare, the Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Air Act, and threaten the freedom and well being of hardworking immigrant Americans be worth it? Trump denies the existence of global warming, calls for increasing use of fossil fuels, dismantling of environmental regulations, has pledged to deport 11 million Mexican immigrants, defended supporters attacking protesters at rallies offered to provide for the defense of supporters who have assaulted African American protestors at his rallies, stated his “openness to using nuclear weapons,” all the while cutting taxes on the rich. Is this worth a protest vote?
We must work within our limitations at the local elections to secure our capacity and ability for change to happen locally. Recognizing that our local elections and communities are the real avenues to continue our revolution, we must ensure we elect a president that doesn’t vow to bludgeon every attempt we have to exercise our rights to freedom of speech, assembly, and religion. Donald Trump could severely limit immigration through executive action and spur the grounds for more regressive and near despotic policies.
3. This election, through the appointment of the Vice President, will be a Senate tiebreaker
A new vice president, in an election without an incumbent, will possibly bring changes to a Senate with a 54-46 GOP majority in Congress. An imposed shift through the election of a vice president will be very much possible; but of course that new Senate, in turn, will have an effect on confirming the new presidential appointment for the Supreme Court.
4. The impact on social programs such as health care
Republicans, having vowed to repeal and replace the current system of health care; a proposition which entails rewriting, amending, omitting and replacing different aspects of different sections to different legislature, from medical underwriting to tax credits. With Clinton committed to maintaining many current aspects behind health care, it is hard to imagine a democratic administration or Congress overhauling fundamental aspects about our system of healthcare. Republican sponsored amendments to the Affordable Care Act may rescind the requirement that employers offer insurance to employees if the firm has larger than 50 employees. Democrats may seek an extension of tax credits to families unattainable due to one member of the household having access to costly employer-sponsored insurance. With the appointment of a new president and a shift in composition of our Congressional offices, change comes in our most important social security programs.
5. Michigan public transit: a highly important local issue that demands our input
Michiganders cannot deny the importance of public transportation, and the observable consequences in the lack thereof, in communities across Metro Detroit.
A ballot initiative that voters across four Metro Detroit counties will encounter on November 8 will propose a millage to raise an estimated $3 billion. Another $1.7 billion would come from federal and state grants. Bus routes will finally operate from Detroit to Pontiac in Oakland County, downtown Detroit, Macomb County along M-59, and downtown Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti in Washtenaw County. Additionally, rail transit will be available between Detroit and Ann Arbor and shuttles to the Metro Airport between suburbs.
Disillusioned leftists will claim that Clinton is another Trump with table manners. And I would agree that at their fundamental platforms, establishment Democratic policies have been often times congruent to mainstream right-wing policies. In any other election, a third-party vote would hold little at stake besides offering a minutiae of political voice relegated to a bubble on a ballot.
And where Trump predicates his campaign on suspicion, fear and hatred, to vote Clinton out of fear of Trump would seem like a comparable act of cowardice. Yet a vote for Clinton, or rather against Trump, should transcend fear as well as personal conviction.
It is imperative that because of these unfavorable outcomes that a political revolution begin, not end, with this election. From the Israeli occupation to crime reform, I see Clinton as fundamentally antithetical to many aspects of reform. Yet I also recognize that taking on the lobbies, funding infrastructure and roads, prioritizing education, and instituting prison reform are all initiatives that must begin at the local level.
Sanders, a relatively unknown senator from Vermont who came neck-and-neck with a former First Lady with decades of name recognition, was successful because he gave the citizen a sense of political agency. Whether one decides to vote strategically, vote third party, or abstain, it is important to take into account the implications certain outcomes have in mitigating the impact of your voice and vote. And it is especially in light of last week’s outcomes that these efforts are not in vain. And Sanders, having left the campaign spotlight and retreated back into his more humble origins, reminded us: “I look forward to being part of the [political] struggle with you.”