'Bernie or Bust' protesters – if you genuinely believe Hillary Clinton is worse than Donald Trump, you're deluded

Stop declaring that America deserves better – a protest vote for Trump is like ordering a cider, being given a beer and responding by downing a bucket of bleach

Anna Rhodes
Friday 29 July 2016 15:13
Her moment arrived, Hillary Clinton greets delegates in Philadelphia
Her moment arrived, Hillary Clinton greets delegates in Philadelphia

I recently met a couple from Utah on the London Underground by chance. Unable to resist, I asked them how they were planning to vote in the upcoming US elections – and the woman replied immediately that she was voting for Trump because he would “save” America with his strong business acumen. He’d be able to fix the economy, she told me. “What about Hillary Clinton?” I asked. The woman replied that Hillary was “dodgy”. She’d voted for Obama in the last elections, but now she felt ashamed because he’d “ruined” America. Now, this was a sensible-seeming woman, and she spoke from the heart – hell, she was so passionate she almost convinced me.

But not quite. Hillary Clinton made history last night, by becoming the first woman in America to be the official nominee for President of the United States. This is one of those moments when you are able to feel optimistic about how far we have come as a civilisation – there is a woman standing for the highest office in the world, with a wealth of experience behind her. It is something we could never have dreamed of but a decade or two ago.

A lot of people feel the same way about Clinton as the woman I met on the underground. “Crooked Hillary”, “Lock her up” – these weren’t just the cries inside the Republican Convention during the nomination of Donald Trump, but also some inside the Democratic Convention as well. And the protesters are serious about their distaste. Many die-hard Bernie Sanders fans, refusing to accept that he lost in a democratic nominee process, are now threatening to vote for Trump to spite Hillary.

Clinton criticises Trump's volatility

These Bernie fans say that they wouldn’t vote for Clinton, the “establishment candidate”, because they’re “sick of being put in a corner”. They can be seen crying, lashing themselves at fences and declaring that America deserves better – but to rescind your vote for the Democrats and give it to Trump is like ordering a cider, being given a beer and responding by downing a bucket of bleach. It also makes your “revolution” look decidedly far-fetched – veering from a socialist candidate to someone parroting the best lines out of the Idiot’s Guide to Fascism shows recklessness, not conviction.

To understand the appeal of Trump, we have to look at his rhetoric – his statements are strong, filled with emotion and patriotism, but lacking in substance. Only last week, he gave three different answers in one sentence to a question about the minimum wage, but because he presents that rhetoric so strongly, many fail to pause and examine the content. He keeps telling everyone he’s anti-establishment and that he “loves the uneducated” and stands for the struggling working people of America, but take one look at his highly privileged life and the people he’s hobnobbed with on a regular basis, and it becomes obvious that his radical credentials don’t really stand up. He even had Bill and Hillary Clinton at his wedding in 2005.

Trump possesses what Clinton ultimately lacks: charisma. Clinton is inspiring, yes, but she doesn’t tap into the psyche of the disillusioned and dispossessed like Trump does. But while Clinton may lack the revolutionary rhetoric, but she has policies that are valid, stable and realistic – which is arguably what America needs right now.

Clinton has pledged to cut taxes for small businesses, provide tax relief to the middle classes, and provide a Diplomat strategy for tackling the divide between the Sunni and Shia communities in Afghanistan and Syria, in an attempt to curb the sectarian nature of Isis’ hold on the country. She also wants to increase ground aid, and build fruitful relationships with the Muslim community within the US, in an attempt to bring the country together, to avoid divisions. Meanwhile, Trump wants to build a big wall across the border with Mexico and has floated the idea of preventing Muslims from travelling to America.

Clinton is also pledging to tackle police racial profiling, and acknowledges that there is a huge problem with this – in addition, she wants to extend Medicare and rights to the citizens of Puerto Rico. She discusses women’s, minorities’ and LGBT rights extensively.

Apart from THE WALL, Trump wishes to repeal Obamacare, and to increase “competition in the healthcare market” (sounds great for big businesses, but not so great for people not dying). He also pledges to remove 50 per cent of the country from the income tax roll – which is so far-fetched it beggars belief. The idea that the country could continue to run with this severe a tax deficit is absurd.

He has also pledged to extend concealed weapon permits to all 50 states, as this is a “right, not a privilege” – meaning it’s a right to carry a gun concealed, regardless of who you are (the Republicans have continuously blocked gun legislation), and a privilege not to be shot. Sounds fantastic – sign me up.

He doesn’t touch on minorities’ rights, women’s rights (last heard saying he thinks women should be punished for having abortions, an opinion he seemed to rescind after even pro-life Republicans weren’t very on board with it), LGBT rights, or any tangible strategy to tackle Islamist extremism apart from closing the borders, which will stoke further racial tension within the US and could lead to more attacks.

There is a clear choice for Americans – either vote for rhetoric and extreme action, or vote for stability and the centre ground. Giving the nuclear codes to a man who cannot even compose himself over nasty tweets is a worrying prospect for us all, be it American or otherwise. And as for the “Bernie or bust” lot: the world is at stake right now – this is not the time for a protest vote.

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