Much to my personal delight, it looks like Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president, and therefore president because there is no way she loses to any of the guys on the other side. This has been a long time coming. I almost got my way back in 2008, but someone else came along who the majority of Democrats liked better, and I had to admit, he was really likeable. That almost happened this time, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to.
That’s a relief, because I remember how it felt last time, to have this image in my head of how things would go, Hillary as president, that other person as Vice President, or maybe in the cabinet. I held on to that image and that hope as long as it made sense to and even after it stopped making sense.
I think I still had a little bit of hope even on the day she endorsed the other guy. It was painful, though. I’m sure you remember, fellow Hillary supporters. And if you don’t, I would urge you to, especially when dealing with your Bernie-supporting friends and family.
I wonder about Bernie supporters. I spend a lot of time thinking about them, mostly because every other facebook post I see is from one. I wonder if they are, mostly, so young that they haven’t not gotten their way enough to envision a world in which Bernie doesn’t become the Democratic nominee. That’s where I was in 2008, where I’d been in college and high school before, and where I’d be for a few years to come after. I couldn’t imagine Hillary not getting her part as much as I couldn’t imagine myself not getting the part I wanted in this or that play or musical.
Even after a cast list was posted, I’d still try to think up scenarios in which I might end up in the role I wanted. It wasn’t quite the same when Hillary officially conceded, perhaps because she was the one to have to concede, not me. Still, though, the denial stage of grief over not getting what you want can be powerful, and it is starting to dawn on Bernie supporters, and it may make them difficult to deal with. Let them express their feelings, try to ignore it, be graceful.
After all, we’re getting our way this time. Our patience and hard work are paying off, and we can afford to be gentle with the former opposition.
Even as I continued to hope in 2008, I did get to a point where I was a little embarrassed for Hillary over how long she insisted on staying in the race. My heart was on her side, but my mind was starting to shake its head. That particular aspect of Hillary’s 2008 campaign is not one that Bernie should emulate, and I really hope he doesn’t. Some people didn’t follow Hillary into the other guy’s corner and voted for John McCain (admittedly a much better candidate than anyone current Republican primary nominee, but a bad judge of Vice Presidential character).
Which Bernie supporters will come into Hillary’s tent and which will decide to vote Republican, for whatever reason, is anyone’s guess, but the sooner they start trying to figure it out for themselves the better, and therefore the sooner Bernie concedes the better.
And though it might be tempting, Bernie supporters should not be scolded for considering not voting for Hillary. It’s their decision, and that’s not the way to get them to our side. When they see what the choices are, what the implications of the election are, chances are most of them will join our “silent majority,” teeth gritted or not. They won’t need our help.
We have demonstrated that we don’t have to be as aggressive or “enthusiastic” as they are. Our power is in our numbers, and we should take comfort in our numbers as well, and be examples of how nice it is on Team Hillary. We don’t panic; we consider. We don’t parade; we trudge. And it may have taken eight years, but our persistence going to get us where we want to go.
Part of that journey was the disappointment of Summer 2008, and perhaps some Bernie supporters will take comfort in that, the idea that just because they got second place in this hard fought race doesn’t mean they won’t get their way next time.
After all, there’s only really one Hillary, she’s a special phenomenon in Democratic politics, but Bernie is more like Doctor Who or James Bond: he comes back with a different face every election cycle. We were lucky to get a second chance with Hillary, but Bernie supporters can feel pretty confident that a super-progressive beacon will shine in the next primary, and the next after that, and after that. It might even be another socialist, if we can de-stigmatize that word in light of Bernie. We need to be an example to Bernie supporters that the pain they feel is just the beginning of building something truly great, like a Hillary Clinton presidency. Take your time, Bernie supporters, but when you’re ready, know that we would love for you to build with us.