Just Vote Blue vs BernieOrBust

By Stephen Cataldo, 30 April, 2016

The Democratic Party, after having a surprisingly mature start to the primary season, is about to tear itself apart. These frames aren't just angry, they are disrespectful. BernieOrBust pretends to be talking to the DNC, but a huge portion of the Sanders base including volunteers (and likely including Sanders) will be very upset if the Sanders primary plays even a small role in a Republican victory. And "Just Vote Blue" is basically saying "shut up."

What are the real messages, how could each of these movements be reframed to work?

The underlying message driving BernieOrBust is one that most Democrats used to agree on. Money interests keep ordinary people at each others' throats over social issues that Big Money don't care about, while rewriting the rules to move ever more of this countries wealth upwards. Our politics will continue to deteriorate as long as money runs rampant. Hillary Clinton has in many ways joined the problematic politics that keeps us divided: guns and abortion and other social issues keep working-class conservatives voting for the Republican side of the machine's coin, and she is stepping into that frame in the role of representing the gun-control and choice side of that coin. We can't cave in to that machine, or the country will drift ever farther to the right and under the boot.

Give me what I want
or I'll bust what you want

BernieOrBust advocates need to disentangle two issues. Sanders is the most honest and high-integrity candidate in this race. And the farthest left. We need to admit to ourselves: we haven't convinced the country to go this far left. We have no right to freak out that a Socialist doesn't win elections in America, or to ruin the chances of moderate-progressives whose views match the center of what America would be if it were a democracy. It is time to get angry, and many moderates and even conservatives are with us, that the machine is crushing honest people. Small doses of anger at people who vote for a candidate they know to be a machine candidate may even be in order -- but if you're angry all the time, right or not, you'll just come across as angry. Sanders movement might know it's right, but it's not going to convince more people unless there is more joy and only limited doses of anger.

Just Vote Blue has generally been living a false narrative. Most of the political operatives on the Sanders side, progressives who have been active for years, are perfectly ready to vote for Hillary Clinton. It's the new people, the young, alive, inspired base, that is furious at politics as usual, and furious at you if you will vote for a candidate who takes briefcases of cash (in digital form) for "speeches" and then won't even release the transcripts. This much money in politics is corrupt, blatantly, unapologetically, widespread. You deserve the fury of your kids if you vote for a corrupt politician when there is an honest choice. I haven't seen statistics, but you should ask yourself: are the people you are telling to just vote blue actually democrats, or people upset with the system who joined politics behind Sanders and will leave again without him. I haven't seen statistics, but in my world, Sanders isn't costing Clinton votes, but the new people he mobilized won't stay without him. How can you convince them that voting for Hillary Clinton is a step on the path forward?

Shut up and Vote Blue
because I told you

If your goal is to convince people who are new to politics to be more pragmatic and stick it out for the long run, you are asking them a big favor. You are asking them to get themselves dirty -- for young voters, you are asking them to join the muck of dirty politics for no good reason, because the other option is right in front of us.