Dear Fellow Progressives: Everyone Wants to Forget About 2016, and Everyone is Wrong
Do you commit to showing up for the Democratic nominee even if s/he isn't your preferred candidate?
by Blake Cooper Griffin | 6.3.19
Take action above, share your thoughts, and help us commit to showing up for the eventual Democratic nominee. It's more important than ever that we stand together.
I am having a bottle of wine tonight. Citizen Cope is playing. If you don’t know his music, check it out — bluesy, folksy, passionate, a little sad. I need this. I’m worried. Something feels familiar. Hauntingly familiar.
This past weekend, several political conversations with friends I love and respect have left me feeling sick to my stomach. And, this $11 bottle of Rose isn’t assuaging my pangs.
I’m the guy in my friend group that everyone likes to talk with about politics. It’s my fault. I’m loud about my opinions. Around the 2016 election, I used to joke that no one wanted to sit next to me at dinner parties because I would so vigorously argue that if my friends and their friends did not rally loud and proud behind Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump was a real possibility. People close to me have admitted that a time or three they avoided me. I felt it. They didn’t like my persistence. Many of them thought I was crazy. I wish I had been crazy.
I am proud to be a progressive millennial. I am proud to be part of a generation and political disposition that is bent toward acceptance and fairness for others. A lot of people pan millennials. Sure, we have our misgivings like anyone else. Yes, flaking on plans isn’t cute, no matter how elaborately your social anxiety is manifesting today. But all in all, I like us. I will never forget that sense of pride I felt to be a Democrat — a progressive — in one of the first elections I could really get involved in when Barack Obama became President. Perhaps, you remember that moment too.
However, one thing feels closer to my memory — the devastating loss of 2016. As I crisscrossed the country volunteering and holding rallies for Hillary Clinton in 2015 and 2016, certain moments stick out to me. Of course there was great joy in advocating for someone that I so admire, believe in, and am inspired by — those personal moments will live with me forever, albeit with a bittersweet tinge. But as an American, I look back at a few moments while considering our current landscape, and I am concerned.
On several occasions, while speaking with people in 2016 both on the road and at home, I experienced rigid push back against Hillary Clinton. “Hillary,” they told me was not their “first choice,” and therefore, they refused to vote for her. I volunteered readily, voted enthusiastically, and cried tears of joy when Barack Obama won the White House in 2008, but he was not my first choice in the primary. Hillary was. So I understood the disappointment when “your” candidate doesn’t get top billing. But, in 2016, the alternative was Donald Trump. Whenever anyone would begin questioning Hillary, I would think to myself, “Whatever view you hold of her, Donald Trump is a reality television star who makes dangerous, racist, misogynistic comments, and Hillary Clinton is an esteemed former Secretary of State and Senator capable of being President.” In my opinion, it was a no brainer.
The dissent over Hillary’s candidacy is not what I want to discuss though. After all, she won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes. Imagine if we could not claim the majority? Never underestimate the leverage that voting majority has provided in this relentlessly horrible situation.
Moving forward, as we look once again to seize electoral victory, this highlights what is pertinent: we can’t just win anymore, we have to win big. And unfortunately in 2016, due to 70,000 votes in three states (and those who stayed home or voted for Jill Stein), we have had to endure month after month of a national nightmare.
Blame is not something I am particularly interested in either. It feels good, but it’s not productive (see: me at holiday parties post November 2016). Responsibility. Learning from mistakes. Action. These push us forward together. Many abdicated their responsibility in 2016. It’s not my place to judge those people, but now, surely, we all know better. Or do we?
As I listen to people talking about 2020 primary candidates, that 2016 tone of political rigidity is back. Accompanying their adoration for their candidate of choice, some are engaging in a hate-fest for any other candidate running, especially those polling higher than their choice.
I would shrug this off, except this was the precise landscape of 2016 for those who would not support the Democratic nominee. And, when it comes down to it — just like in 2016 — it will either be Donald Trump in 2020 or the Democratic nominee. And regardless of what your definition of perfect is, Donald Trump is the absolute worst option. 100 times out of 100. The worst.
So, allow me to respectfully make a suggestion. We are all tired. We feel scorned. We are worried. We see horrors in the news. Violence. Division. The Supreme Court has turned decidedly conservative. Civil rights are under attack. The environment is going to hell. None of this is solved by fighting with other Democrats. Not now. Like you, I have deep feelings and opinions about candidates, but I promise you, I would support any one of them over Trump.
Make no mistake, this is not a call for blind coronation. Support whom you love, give them money, phone bank, speak out about them, pray for them — do all the things I did for Hillary. Support them on substance, and draw distinctions without needlessly tearing down the character of other candidates. And, if your candidate wins the primary, keep advocating for them. But, if they don’t, remember that we all stand to lose if you don’t show up for the Democratic nominee. Because I promise you — Republicans will be as motivated as ever to get Trump back in office. Armed with intensity similar to religious fervor, the far right will organize, mobilize, provoke fear, and fall in line to cement their stronghold on power. There is no sanctity in not supporting the eventual Democratic nominee. There is no sanctity in not being involved. There is no sanctity in engaging in misinformation. In fact, the consequences of four more years of Trump are dire for us all.
A fire was started in 2016. Now, the house is burning down. Don’t argue over the drapes. And please, don’t refuse the fireman or woman who comes to save you.
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