FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver, a statistician and writer by trade, correctly predicted the electoral outcomes of all 50 states during the 2012 presidential election; in 2008, he called the winner of 49 out of 50 states correctly. Silver, a pioneer in the field of “data journalism,” seems to be on his a-game when it comes to election results, and he doesn’t think Sen. Bernie Sanders has a fighting chance. Simulating a state-by-state distribution of electoral votes that could propel Sen. Sanders to the nomination, Silver writes, “These are not predictions. On the contrary, they describe a rose-colored-glasses scenario for Sanders that I consider to be very unlikely.” Now, as Silver himself admits, “things can change, and polls can be wrong.” With Silver’s historically high degree of accuracy, however, it may be time for Bernie supporters to start thinking of their next move.
I am the last one to belittle optimism or idealism, and don’t think that all Sanders supporters should sit and twiddle their thumbs; however, like all great chess players, I think those that think several steps ahead are always the best prepared. In the tumultuous catastrophe that is our current political climate, we have to assume that the worst is yet to come: either fascist Sen. Ted Cruz or idiotic Donald Trump win the Republican nomination, and the collapse of democracy ensues. I think anyone who is frightened by the prospect of either of the Republican frontrunners must realize that even if Sanders loses, there is still an alternative: Secretary Hillary Clinton.
In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, one third of voters who support Sen. Sanders stated that they would not vote for Secretary Clinton in the general election if she wins the Democratic party’s nomination. In principle, I understand their argument: you shouldn’t vote for someone you don’t support. However, for those who do not find Secretary Clinton’s vast experience and knowledge appealing, you ought to still recognize that she is certainly the lesser of the two evils. Regardless of who wins the Republican nomination, if you align with Sen. Sanders, you will indubitably be better aligned with the positions of Secretary Clinton as opposed to those of Trump or Sen. Cruz.
I am a firm believer that citizens who do not fulfill their responsibilities to their nation are less deserving of their rights. Abstention is inherently anti-democratic because it encourages a lack of participation and a subsequent lack of impact.
Why is it suddenly acceptable to sit on the sidelines in silence instead of exercising your right to vote? Your protests will go unheeded if you simply stay at home, watching the election results trickle in. You are just responsible for the flaws in our democracy as corrupt and ineffective politicians if you are not actively attempting to address these issues. By choosing not to vote against Trump, you are indirectly expressing support for him and whatever twisted and frightening trajectory the nation will take as a result of his victory. This is not to say that you should feel pressured to always conform your views to the majoritarian perspective in order to avoid political calamity; however, there are far more effective ways of protesting and expressing grievances with the political process that do not include sitting out Election Day. Send letters or policy proposals to your elected representatives, participate in a march, go attend a debate; these are all effective forms of advocacy that require action rather than inaction.
True Sanders worshippers ought to take a nod from him when he says. “Hillary Clinton and I agree that it is absolutely imperative that no Republican make it to the Oval Office.” The principled commitment that Bernie supporters have to Bernie ought to be repositioned to be a commitment to the issues and values that he promotes: social and economic mobility, civil liberties, acknowledging and addressing climate change, maintaining Social Security, women’s reproductive rights, providing a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. If you agree with Sen. Sanders’ stances on these issues, you will likely be far better served by the agenda of Secretary Clinton than the agenda of Trump. Every vote for Secretary Clinton is a vote against Trump; a vote against xenophobia, blatant sexism, a lack of recognition of the serious issues we face, and a lack of real, feasible solutions to these issues. Every vote against Donald Trump is a vote for a better America.