My Breaking Berning Heart

(Published initially with Medium on July 12, 2016)

By Jackie Leavitt

I knew that it was inevitable. Bernie Sanders would have to endorse Hillary Clinton. If not, Bernie would have split the Democratic Party and given Donald Trump a sure chance to win the general election. Trump is the larger enemy to Bernie than the current corrupt electoral system that he’s fought so long against. Go with the enemy you know, I guess.

So I knew it would happen. But when it did — when I read the headline today that Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton — I felt disappointment. Why? Perhaps it marked the true end to the hope surrounding the Bernie movement. Feel the Burn. Or not. It felt like giving up.

I knew the realities. Once my state of California voted for Hillary over Bernie, it was a done deal. He wouldn’t be president.

When Elizabeth Warren endorsed Hillary, there was a spark of enthusiasm in my chest. Elizabeth Warren! A woman I admire and applaud — if she could stand behind Hillary, I could, too. And when the two of them stood on the same stage together among whispers of a potential vice presidential team, I felt like pumping my fists in the air. What a dream! Two brilliant, powerful women bringing two sides of the Democratic Party together. I put on my “Attitude/Girl Power” playlist as I went for a run.

And yet over the past week, I gradually realized that it was a show, like several publications claimed, including the New York Times. It was a smoke screen for Hillary to gain Bernie supporters. Hillary the magician. More and more political experts are voicing the probability of Hillary choosing someone more in-line with her campaign and someone who would continue to woo over the moderate conservatives who balk at the idea of Trump sitting in the White House. Elizabeth Warren wouldn’t woo over those fence-sitters. She would woo more Bernie supporters. But now that Hillary has Bernie’s endorsement, how much longer will Elizabeth sit in NPR’s potential democratic VP list?

Why am I so disappointed? Why do I feel so duped? Yes, I voted for Bernie Sanders in California, but I was ready to accept Hillary as a good second choice. She is advocating for many of the things I support. The Democrats are in a hell of a better position than the Republicans — Donald Trump is a hard pill to swallow. And I agree that we need to come together to keep him out of power. I just wish it could be done without the feeling that I’m getting tricked into something that isn’t there.

But what are my alternatives? I’ve read some articles that quote Bernie supporters claiming they will write him in on the ballot or not vote at all. I won’t do that — I’ll vote for Hillary. But now that vote seems empty. It feels like giving up in some way. As Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party tweeted, “[m]any Berning hearts are breaking right now.” And mine is definitely aching.

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