I Love Bernie, But I Won't Associate With His Angry Supporters At The DNC

by John Haltiwanger

As I walked up to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia for first day of the Democratic National Convention, past long lines of police and flanked by huge fences, I made eye contact with one of the protestors standing outside.

He was wearing a Bernie Sanders T-shirt. When we met eyes, he yelled,

Smug Hillary puppet!

Actually, angry sweaty white man, I voted for the Vermont senator, but please keep assuming things because it's working out so well for you.

Many of the other protestors were clearly Bernie Sanders supporters as well, given they were shouting, "Bernie beats Trump," over and over.

About an hour later, I witnessed the DNC's official kickoff, and experienced the loud chorus of boos from Sanders delegates each time Hillary's name was mentioned.

We've come to a point where Bernie Sanders actually had to send a text message to his own supporters about their childish demeanor.

According to Yahoo! News, it said,

I ask you as a personal courtesy to me to not engage in any kind of protest on the floor. [It's] of utmost importance you explain this to your delegations.

He subsequently sent out an email urging his delegates to stop the booing.

People are angry. Like Bernie, I totally get it. This election has been rough to say the least.

I've never been a big fan of Hillary Clinton. I think her foreign policy is too hawkish, I'm uncomfortable with her ties to Wall Street, and, quite frankly, I've always found it difficult to gauge where she truly stands.

I do believe she's an incredibly experienced individual, extremely intelligent, highly qualified and someone who's dedicated years of her life to public service.

But when it came to a choice between her and Bernie Sanders during the primary season, there was no question: I was feeling the Bern.

His integrity and consistency were everything I wanted in a presidential candidate. While others characterized his views as fantasy, which I found to be decidedly condescending and unimaginative, I found his positions to be a refreshing dose of common sense.

So when Bernie lost my state's primary, I was disappointed. When it became clear he wouldn't win, I was very disheartened. When he endorsed Hillary Clinton, I definitely wasn't thrilled. When I found out about the DNC leak, I was also similarly displeased.

Long story short, I understand where the discontentment many Bernie Sanders supporters feel comes from.

But, I'm still incredibly embarrassed by how many of them are acting, and I think they're doing an immense disservice to what Bernie accomplished this election.

He helped inspire millions of people, even the elusive Millennials, who have frequently been written off as too disengaged and self-absorbed to care about politics.

He helped push Democrats, and arguably Hillary Clinton, to the left on many issues.

He helped ensure there will be a progressive movement that continues to have an impact in this country for many years to come.

But, we all risk jeopardizing all of that by allowing our emotions to get the best of us.

Electoral politics are messy and often inherently disappointing. You typically do not get everything you want. You might not get anything you want.

That's politics. That's how it works.

But, no single election has the capacity to change an entire system. No single leader can alter the country in every single way you desire.

It's time to suck it up and be adults about this.

There is a way to protest when you're unhappy. There is a way to follow your convictions on election day.

I encourage people to do both.

But at this point, there are segments of Bernie Sanders supporters who seem determined to undermine and discredit all he worked for.

In many ways, they are acting no differently than Donald Trump supporters: divisively, irrationally and immaturely.

Some even adopted and embraced the same slogans.

According to a poll from Huffington Post, it also seems some Sanders supporters decided to vote for Trump. In doing so, they've elected to go against everything Bernie Sanders stands for: tolerance, social justice, equality, pragmatism and so much more.

If you're voting for Trump because you believe he's the answer to this country's problems, I vehemently disagree with you, but you have to follow your convictions, however flawed they may be in my view.

If you're voting for Trump to spite Hillary and because you're angry at Bernie and essentially want to use your vote as the equivalent of a political temper tantrum, you never represented progress to begin with and you're just as narcissistic and entitled as Trump is.

This isn't all about you. This is bigger than any single candidate or election. There is too much at risk to embrace chaos over compromise.

I'm not saying anyone has to vote for Hillary, even though I'm more than willing to in order to prevent a Trump presidency, which I believe would be disastrous for the US on multiple levels.

But, stop embarrassing a man who's fought for a better America his entire life. Stop acting in a way that besmirches a progressive movement that's already had a major impact and will continue to do so. Most of all, stop embarrassing yourselves. You're better than this.

As Sanders stated, "We have made great progress in the past year. Let's continue going forward."

Citations: Bernie Sanders to delegates: Please don't protest on convention floor (Yahoo! News), HUFFPOLLSTER: Most Sanders Supporters Say They Back Clinton Over Trump (Huffington Post)