When I first started volunteering for Bernie Sanders, I was actually still excited about Hillary Clinton. This may surprise a lot of my readers, given the fact that I’ve written such scathing anti-Clinton articles as I Used To Be In Love With Hillary Clinton and Hillary Clinton Has a Gun to My Head.
I was all about having America’s first woman president. I planned to work very hard for Bernie Sanders, but vote for Hillary Clinton if she defeated Sanders in the primaries. People on social media, recognizing that I was a hardcore Sanders volunteer, repeatedly asked me to join a circulating pledge called Bernie or Bust and repeatedly I refused. In a world full of lies, spin and deception, truth becomes a valuable commodity, so I won’t pledge something that I don’t believe in 100%.
At the first “Democratic” debate, I was still planning on voting for Hillary if she won. At the second “Democratic” debate, we hosted a debate party in our home and I actually stood up and gave a speech to the 40 people in attendance about Bernie or Bust. The response was overwhelmingly negative and I told my audience that I agreed with them, but that I felt the pledge had some merit. Following the third debate I came out publicly as Bernie or Bust and begin pushing the agenda that we live and die with Bernie Sanders. As most of my friends were hardcore Democrats, many distanced themselves from me and many said that they felt like I had joined a cult.
My best friend, always seeing the bigger picture, said
“Hey. I feel like you have become kind of radical, but I am fully aware that sometimes it takes radicals to get things done.”
My personal life fell to pieces, but I didn’t care. I believed in the concept with all my heart and accepted that it was an absolute necessity if we were ever going to be taken seriously by the “Democratic” Party. The importance of the movement was to insure a fair primary election for Bernie Sanders. The idea being that we would vote for Bernie Sanders and ONLY Bernie Sanders to present the “Democratic” Party with a dilemma, nominate Bernie Sanders, because he is the ONLY one we will vote for.
I begin daily discussions with people on why I felt that it was important that they publicly declare that they are Bernie or Bust. I organized events locally and traveled to other cities spreading the word. I was interviewed by Vox, Fox News, The Washington Post and several other corporate media outlets. Each time I was offered face time, I used it to promote one thing and one thing only, the idea that millions of us were ABSOLUTELY 100% DEDICATED TO VOTING FOR BERNIE SANDERS FOR PRESIDENT AND ONLY BERNIE SANDERS FOR PRESIDENT.
When I said that I was Bernie or Bust, I meant it.
The problem is, it seems like I am one of very few who did.
So what took me from being a Hillary supporter in 2015 to “throwing my vote away” in 2016?
Firstly, I began to actually pay attention to Hillary Clinton and started probing under the surface of what corporate media had been telling me about her for years. In 2015 all I knew about Hillary was that she was pro-choice and pro-LBGT rights. I also knew that she once fought valiantly for universal healthcare. And I’m not going to lie, the fact that she was a woman and a Democrat were important to me as well. It’s embarrassing that our country has never had a female president. I considered Hillary’s gender a bonus. In short, I was a typical head-in-the-sand Hillary Clinton supporter.
The more I learned about her, the more I realized that I could never vote for her. The more I learned about the “Democratic” Party, the more I realized that my commitment to only vote for Bernie Sanders was not only necessary, but it was the only way to use my voice in this vacuum of lies and deceit.
Watching the “Democratic” Party attack and deceive Bernie Sanders radicalized me. I literally devoted my entire life to spreading this message. Over and over again I told people
“You can’t bluff. You have to mean it. Because if we go back on our commitment, the Dems will just repeat their transgressions in future elections. You have to vote for Bernie Sanders even if he is not on the ballot. That’s the only power we have.”
I promoted the idea that we all meet in Philadelphia at the “Democratic” National Convention to show the DNC first hand that we were serious. Our message was simple. “We will ONLY vote for Bernie Sanders! We will accept NO SUBSTITUTES!”
They built a wall to keep us out.
They didn’t take us seriously.
They laughed in our faces.
As our movement gathered momentum it was very clear that it was about more than just supporting this great man who had fought for our rights for 40+ years. It was literally a fight to reclaim Democracy itself. By promising to vote for Sanders and ONLY Sanders we were taking a stand against the sociopathic elitist class that had been causing pain and misery since the dawn of time. We were drawing a line in the sand and refusing to back down. We were here to change the world and nothing was going to stop us.
As Hillary Clinton remained in hiding, Sanders solidified our commitment by tirelessly touring the country telling everyone that the time for change was now. Sanders would fly coach into a new city (because he didn’t want to abuse our donations by wasting money on first-class) and give a speech, then go out into the parking lot and give another speech for all the people who could not get into the arena, then he would jump on a plane and repeat the process.
Sanders was always working, so we kept working. We collected ballot signatures in the snow and freezing rain. We were called communists. We had our vehicles and homes defaced. We were physically attacked. But it didn’t matter. If Bernie didn’t stop, we didn’t stop. We canvassed scary neighborhoods in states we had never been to before. We talked to thousands of voters of every background.
Sometimes a Hillary supporter would ask…
“If Hillary wins, you will vote for Hillary, right?”
I would always say..
“In my capacity as a canvasser, it is not up to me to talk about my personal political beliefs, but personally I am pledged to vote for Bernie Sanders only. I cannot support a system that is rigged against him.”
This would anger the Hillary supporters every single time. I received so many lectures, so many fingers in my face. I remember one guy pulling his wife away, because she had gotten so worked up that I truly believe that she was going to strike me. As he guided her inside, he turned to me and mouthed
“If Bernie isn’t on the ballot in November, I’m writing him in.”
“Me too.” I mouthed back.
“But Mike, don’t you realize that they will throw your vote away?”
Absolutely I do! In fact I’m counting on it. But let’s be clear about how the this works. They WILL hand-count my ballot and record it. All the down-ballot candidates will be credited towards their totals. So I am only “throwing away” one part of my vote, the part that is asking me which sexual predator I prefer in the White House. Throwing my vote in a trashcan certainly has more dignity than voting for either of these atrocious criminals.
Some will say that I should break my promise and vote for a third-party candidate instead. While I support others who want to do that, it will not have the same effect. A vote for Bernie Sanders is absolutely symbolic. It is a message to the “Democrats” that we don’t want the candidate that they forced down our throats. It is a message that we do not support election fraud. It is a message that you can cheat your way into the White House, but you can’t silence our movement.
If millions of people keep their word and write-in Bernie Sanders then it makes a massive statement to the DNC. In fact, it would be the largest single-day protest in our nation’s history.
But my vote for Bernie Sanders is more than just a protest. I want to honor Bernie Sanders for his lifetime of commitment to fighting for Progressive values. I want to thank Bernie Sanders for the movement that he started that will never end. I will probably only have one chance to vote for this great man in the entirety of my life and I will not pass up on this opportunity. On November 8, I hope that everyone who knows that Bernie Sanders was cheated by the “Democrats” will make a YUGE statement by writing Bernie Sanders name on their ballot.
I want the corporate media to be forced to announce that “we won’t know the real winner of the election for a few days, because tens of millions of write-in votes have to be tallied and that could take several days.” In my wildest dreams I imagine that Bernie Sanders receives more write-in votes than Trump or Clinton receives ballot votes. I’d love to see the nation recognize that Bernie Sanders is the people’s choice, even as Hillary Clinton takes the throne that she cheated to obtain. Let it be a reminder to her each time Sanders puts legislation before her that she may have the title, but Sanders has the people.
If you have somehow rationalized voting for someone else, after you promised yourself that you would vote for Bernie Sanders, I submit that as the years pass, you will regret this decision more and more. On the day Bernie Sanders takes his final breath, I want to be able to say that in my one chance I had to vote for him, I took it.
Everyone else in America can be swayed by the political winds. But when I said that I was voting for Bernie Sanders and ONLY Bernie Sanders, I meant it.
I hope that you did too.