The lead up to this year’s Democratic National Convention was one marked by the atypical dichotomy of jubilation and uneasiness. We crowned a democratic nominee, however, we struggled to elect one. Meanwhile the “we” that designated Hillary Clinton as our next president seemed to be the party elite — a group that decided she would reign over the United States quite some time ago.
After much controversy over her impartiality during this election cycle, Debbie Wasserman Schultz officially resigned last week in the wake of email leaks that plainly displayed the dishonesty employed by the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, just as the festival to crown her favorite Democratic nominee began. The overarching attitude at this point seems to be that Democrats are supposed to ignore the corruption of their own party throughout the primary process in the name of blind excitement over Hillary Clinton clinching the nomination.
It feels like many Democrats would rather celebrate our first female president simply because she is female, without considering her honesty, likeability or electability. It is also a common vein among those on the left that she often has not and still does not represent the nation’s best interests. Tellingly, the excitement over her prospective presidency could have commenced months ago, when superdelegates made their decisions for whom to vote before the primary had even begun.
Even as Senator Bernie Sanders won states like Utah, Minnesota, Washington State, Wisconsin, Rhode Island and Alaska, the superdelegates in these states shirked their responsibility to represent the popular vote of their states and cast their vote for Clinton. Never mind the popular vote, these top party officials had their minds made up long ago. Never mind the millions of people these superdelegates are supposed to represent or these people’s beliefs as to who was the best candidate.
The well-covered and controversial superdelegate system aside, the excitement over the Democratic Party, the convention and its nominee, is one that I find absolutely confusing. I have always identified as a liberal, typically further to the left than the Democratic Party itself. I get the emails, I go out and vote, I follow the election cycle closely. I do everything I can to form an educated opinion about the party I identify with. Right now I find myself experiencing a wide range of emotions and opinions about what the hell is going on with the Democratic Party.
It seems that us Democrats have found ourselves in the same position we have been in many a time: choosing between the lesser of two evils, or being told we are letting the bad guys win if we don’t put our consciences aside to vote for Hillary, even if she embodies traits a through and through Democrat would deem deplorable. It is expected to be a matter of course that we put aside our revulsion at questionable democracy this election has displayed, and vote for someone who many believe to be power hungry and dishonest.
I don’t want to be called a traitor or unrealistic for voting for a candidate who may more accurately represent my self interests. What makes the entire situation even more poignantly crushing is the opportunity to elect Senator Sanders that Democrats squandered. Now, even in the wake of party madness and leaked emails, we are expected to fall in line.
Wasserman Schultz stepped down after what can be considered a rough tenure as the DNC chairwoman, and immediately stepped right back up into a figurehead position as a part of Hillary’s campaign. One would think that this allegiance with the Clinton campaign would call into question her earlier decisions and impartiality in this entire election process. Instead, Clinton stood by, content, as Wasserman Schultz was ousted, yet went on to thank her for “always having her back.”
Clinton knew Schultz’ email leaks and the friction within the Democratic Party had to result in a resignation, yet she understandably thanked her for her ‘leadership’ of the party. What’s more unsettling in this election isn’t the level of corruption being displayed, it’s the complacency regarding this corruption and our inability to accept the injustices taking place right in front of us.
I don’t believe I am the only one who feels this way. “Bernie or bust,” as a sentiment, has been echoed by voters and delegates alike, and while those people are dismissed as “ridiculous,” their feelings are legitimate. Why be pigeonholed into voting for a candidate that has been designated for us when our entire political system is based on choice and enacting the will of the people.
I am terrified of a Donald Trump presidency but I am also terrified at the idea that we as voters would legitimize the DNC’s now painfully blatant bias throughout the primary contests, and reassure them that we as voters have lost our collective chutzpah and aren’t willing to defy party leaders even as they lie to our faces.
The lesser of two evils idea is not a new phenomena, but new voters are going to respond to it in different ways. With the U.S. losing its grip on its core founding principle, it seems we are a generation with time ticking against us. I wish we could sit this one out and see what happens, but with so much at stake, we are pushed from all sides to make a decision we aren’t fully invested in.
Sebastianne Kent and Jackson Kerr are less than thrilled about the direction of the Democratic Party.