By Ryan Hiles–
If you’re one of my many conservative friends or acquaintances, you should probably just stop reading at the end of this paragraph. It’s truly is nothing personal. Any liberal that grew up in a red state like Kentucky will be able to tell you that we necessarily develop a more empathetic understanding of conservatism, if only for the fact that we know so many brilliant and wonderful Republicans. So please don’t think of this as me being dismissive or flippant to you and your views, but this piece simply doesn’t apply to you.
This piece, rather, is addressed to my myriad friends who have vowed their impassioned support to Senator Bernie Sanders. This is a plea for unification. First off, let me say that as far as policy goes, we’re probably pretty much in agreement. I can listen to Bernie’s stump speech and not find more than one or two statements at which I might raise an eyebrow. I don’t think of socialism as a dirty word. I believe that health care should be a human right. I too believe in a strong federal government that works for all people. But where a conflict between Sanders supporters and myself usually starts to appear is when I raise the topic of Hillary Clinton.
I’ve noticed an alarming trend in my conversations with ardent Sanders supporters, in which we’ll be in virtually total agreement, until I bring up the very likely possibility that Clinton will win the nomination. At the simple mention of the name, faces wrinkle, onomatopoetic groans are let out, and an occasional expletive is dropped.
When I spoke to senior English major Bry Roberts, she doubted whether she’d even be able to bring herself, in good conscious, to cast her vote for Hillary. “I just genuinely, deep down, don’t believe she’d be good for our country. There are a lot of reasons to dislike her, and I’m honestly still scared that she’ll get the nomination and then be indicted. I really don’t know if I could even vote.”
Roberts isn’t alone in that sentiment. In the tsunami of Bernie hysteria, it seems a fresh sense of animosity toward the Clintons has also washed ashore. It makes sense why Sanders fans would feel a little aggrieved by the Clinton name and why they militantly defend their candidate in contrast.
It’s fun to root for David to knock off Goliath, and this race really does aptly compare to the biblical story.
In one corner, we have a 74-year-old Jewish socialist senator from the political mecca that is Vermont. And in the other, we have, at least on paper, arguably the most qualified candidate for president in American history, backed up by a war chest that looks like something Scrooge McDuck would swan dive into. It’s the rebels vs. the empire. Rocky vs. Drago. It’s the kind of underdog story that inevitably ends up creating a false binary. One that paints Clinton as an evil Tom, while painting Sanders as an adorable, geriatric cartoon version of Jerry.
But I implore you, fellow Democrats, please don’t sit this one out if Clinton wins. I understand your hesitation. Hillary wouldn’t be my first choice either. But simply not voting is not a luxury we have this year. Put aside for a moment your feelings about Hillary Clinton, and consider this: Donald Trump or Ted Cruz will be our next president if we allow ourselves to fracture. And say what you will about Hillary Clinton, but I’ve never questioned her grip on reality. Trump and Cruz are another story.