I am going to try to express a few thoughts about the current state of affairs without rancor or snarkiness. Should I fall short of that goal, I ask your forgiveness in advance.
There is a lot of discussion currently about what Hillary Clinton and her supporters “must do” to win the support of Bernie Sanders’ backers in the general election. Sanders’ team has been central to those discussions, demanding that Clinton-selected members of the Platform Committee be removed, etc.
The word “owe” has appeared more than once in these discussions. Clinton “owes” certain things to “earn” the support of Sanders voters—changes to election and delegate rules, more input on platform, etc.
Such feelings may be valid, but the demands, and the presumed “debt” behind them, isn’t. You vote for whoever you wish to vote for. Your choice. No one gets to demand benefits for a vote, and granting such is against the law.
It can be argued with some validity that the debt actually goes the other way.
Bernie Sanders, a Senator serving as an Independent in the US Senate, ran a remarkable campaign, highlighting ideas deeply important to improving American democracy—income inequality, undue corporate influence in elections, crushing debt loads facing current and former students. His campaign was able to get that message heard and taken seriously by millions, thereby changing the course of political discussion in a crucial election year.
How many Americans would have heard that message had Sanders run as the independent he has always proclaimed himself to be?
Sanders’ supporters have complained often and loudly that the media was ignoring their candidate and his platform. While there is some validity to that complaint, it is hardly the last word.
Sanders and his surrogates could get time on national television shows simply by calling up and saying they were available. Sanders’ speeches were often carried in prime time. Any outlet even pretending fairness included his campaign’s comments when covering election news of the day.
How many Americans would have heard that message had “independent candidate Bernie Sanders” been running?
Gary Johnson, nominee of the 35-year-old Libertarian Party, is polling at about 10% these days, if recent polls are to be trusted. How often do you see him on television? How many speeches of his have you seen covered?
While the current iteration of the Social Democrat Party/Socialist Party/Social Democrats has been around for about as long, how much television coverage have you seen of them? Any?
Bernie Sanders was able to get his message out because he ran in OUR primary.
By using the “rigged” machinery, “corrupt” structures and “oligarchical” media influence of a party others have built, groomed and maintained for 224 years, Sanders was able to have a much greater impact on American political dialog than had he run as the independent Social Democrat he is.
A year ago, to almost all Americans, he was “Bernie Who?” Without the power of our party, he would be “Bernie Who?” still.
If there is any “debt” owed this primary season, it would be the debt Sanders and those who support his message owe to the Democratic Party for building him such a powerful bully pulpit to borrow.
As I said earlier, I don’t believe such a debt exists, on either side.
But if you really think it’s time to get out calculators and spend 15 minutes splitting the check, you should take a good look at how much you really ate and who paid for it.
You might even want to step out and take a look at the name of the restaurant.
A brief PS: Though I said above nobody owes anybody anything, I have a personal debt I’d like to call in.
Senator, I gave you my time, my words, my money and my vote. You owe me.
Support my party.
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