Don't Let Bernie Endorsing Hillary Distract You From What Matters
Don't Let Bernie Endorsing Hillary Distract You From What Matters
Sanders drenched in sweat, at one of the hundreds of events he's spoken at over the last year.
By Tim Hjersted /

There's been quite a lot of anger, disappointment and attention on Bernie's decision to endorse Clinton the last couple weeks. But I've started to believe this attention on Bernie has become a big distraction from the fact that the work was always going to be up to us. The movement isn't about Sanders and what he does. The movement is about US and what WE do.

Sanders is one 74 year old activist in our movement among millions. As far as I'm concerned, he's more than done his part. If only millions of us could step up with even a 10th of the commitment he's made to this cause over his entire life, we'd be in pretty good shape.

But this is the problem with the leadership model of modern politics - we expect them to carry too much of the work, and we excuse our own lack of action with our supposed powerlessness. But if there is one thing Sanders tried to convey during his campaign, it's that no one person is going to be able to fix things - not him, not Hillary or anyone else. 

The truth is, if we personally put in just a fraction of time he has, and we stayed committed our entire lives, and everyone else did too, it wouldn't make a difference what Bernie does or doesn't do. 

If millions of American's commit to being life-long activists for the political revolution - if millions more decide to continue the fight, we could solve these problems ourselves. 

So, maybe we should think twice before judging Sanders too harshly.

At the end of the day, Bernie has chosen to work for change within the Democratic establishment. That's the job he's chosen. I can respect that. We need people to do that job -- our job -- is to do what we can to compliment those efforts. Our job is to decide what sort of contribution we personally want to make, and then do it - whether that's from outside the system, or within it, whether through political lobbying, media activism, community organizing, local politics, direct action, or mutual aid. 

Many hands make light work. And we really do need a complimentary and diverse number of efforts from all angles of the problem. 

Maybe some folks are pissed because, deep down, they wanted a savior who could fix all these problems so they wouldn't have to. They don't want to bust ass the way Sanders has the last year for this movement. They wanted Bernie to do it, so they could sit behind their laptops and complain and cheer like the political spectators they truly want to be.

Sure, there are reasons to be disappointed. There are reasons to be angry. But having thought about the pros of endorsing, I see why he did it and it makes sense to me. He ceded the battle so that we can win the war. 

He's also a man of his word - for better or worse in this case - and he's likely calculated that the risks of a third party run are far too great to chance -

1) because of the risk of helping to elect Trump 

2) because the grassroots infrastructure and organization just isn't strong enough yet for a third party run to be successful in 2016 and

3) because a Trump win would sabatage all the gains our movement has made and would strengthen the centrist, corporate wing of the Democratic party as the middle of America would blame us for Trump and align more deeply with them for fear of repeats. Sanders believes that the revolution will be served best if it can grow its power during a Hillary presidency, who is much more likely to be pressured by progressive grassroots activism than Trump.

I know folks are in mourning and that's fair. But damn some people sure switch from love to hate on a dime these days. I call that some pretty messed up, half-hearted love.

Personally, I still respect Sanders as much as I did before. I wish folks would take some time to research and consider the upsides of his strategy (instead of saying "ahhh what a sellout!" without considering the flipside). There are lots of articles on the subject (like thisthis, this and this).

Robert Reich made a good case for this route in his debate with Chris Hedges. Noam Chomsky has made a good case too. 

In any case, besides understanding some of the reasons why he'd go this route, I'm not pissed at Sanders because I'm not going to get pissed at what any one activist does.

Our movement must not, should not, and cannot rest on what any one activist does.

You know what I am angry about? Systemic police brutality and racism. Fracking. Poverty. War. Student debt. Massive inequality. Climate change. 

All the issues we were angry about yesterday are still here today, and they all still need our loving attention. 

It's time to stop focusing so much on what Sanders does or doesn't do and start focusing on what our movement is doing.

Who is organizing in your community and how can you support them? What can you do to further the movement's goals?

The goal is to win victories for the movement, not elections. The goal is to transform America. Local and state elections may be a part of the equation, but at the end of the day, elections are just a means to an end. And there are many means at our disposal.

Our job is to fight for our movement's goals - regardless of who is in power, using a diversity of activist tactics, strategies and efforts. That's it. Period.

So, let's stop the hand-wringing over Bernie's decisions and remember where our real power lies: with ourselves, right where we live, and with our movement, all across this country.



"I have deep ambivalence about [Sanders' endorsement] ... But I know these things:
1) This movement has always been about US, not Bernie. In fact, Bernie always said so. It is UP To US to keep it going and make it strong
2) He was going to endorse her at some point, doing it now is not many people's preferred timing, but that doesn't change the fact that as a democrat, Bernie has said that he was going to do this all along.
3) We control what we are upset about. We can choose to be disappointed, or we can choose to accept the baton that he is passing along to us. We were really holding it the whole time.
4) Our gains are all movement based- what we have won, we won because we were strong and we were in the streets and we were loud and passionate in forging a new world and fighting for our rights. We would have had to do that if Bernie was in the White House or not.
5) We don't have to endorse Hillary right now, or ever. In fact, we will be stronger as a movement, if we hold out for further policy concessions. We cannot squander the power we have built as a movement.
6) We must fight to stop TPP
7) We must fight for a fracking ban
8) We must fight for Single Payer Healthcare
9) We must fight for Campaign finance reform
10) We must fight to end the revolving door in DC
11) We must fight to get off of fossil fuels and implement distributed generation of renewable energy
12) We must fight for Social, Racial and Economic Justice.
13) We must fight for Black Lives Matter and have radical reform of the police and end state violence towards people of color. 
14) We must reform immigration
15) We must push for better benefits for seniors and expand social security
16) We must fight for fair treatement of Veterans and to Stop all foreign wars immediately
17) We must fight for justice in Gaza and Palestine
18) We must fight for indigenous rights
19) We must fight to slow down climate change.
20) We must fight for a real living wage as fast as possible.
21) We must fight so that the 1% pay their fare share of taxes.
22) We must fight for high speed rail.
23) We must fight to end Mountain Top Removal, Tar Sands oil, oFf shore drilling and all other extreme energy.
24) We must fight because fighting for who we are tells us who we are. And fighting for our rights makes us who we are.
25) We must fight for a better world.

With all that we must do, let us not grieve or be angry too long about a lost election. Elections are important moments yes, but the real organizing work happens every day. And damn I hope we have the strength to keep going. So I hope we can all together,  feel anger and hope and energy- not sadness- I hope we can work even harder at all of this. And I hope we can give a huge huge thank you to the man who brought so many of us together, the brilliant leader and fighter that is Bernie. We are only just beginning. Let's take the charge and do this together. It is only together that we can win.

Our movement is us. We are the ones we are waiting for." - Josh Fox


If you're surprised Bernie endorsed Hillary, you weren't listening.

If you'd rather vote Trump or not at all, you didn't understand the revolution. - Ryan Cole

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Don't Let Bernie Endorsing Hillary Distract You From What Matters