In light of last week’s debate between Democratic presidential candidates former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) about who is qualified to be president, I think it is fair to say the level of vitriol between progressives in the Democratic nomination fight has reached 2008-like levels.
In a sense, this is good and not unexpected. For those of us who believe politics is the highest calling, our level of engagement shows our deep care about the issues in this campaign.
However, what surprised me is that some of the deadliest venom thrown around in person and on the web has come from the mouths of young people, hurling insults at each other about the histories, policies and appearances of their respective candidates. This needs to end, and quickly.
Full disclosure: I am a Clinton supporter. I worked for her campaign last summer and will be continuing my role full time after I graduate in May. However, I must admit, as a millennial who has family in Europe and has supported leftist candidates, there is a lot that draws me to Sanders as a candidate. His callousness on gun reform disturbs me deeply, especially because I am a native of Sandy Hook, Conn., the site of a major mass shooting. I appreciate the scale of his ambitions on health care, the Israeli-Palestinian debate and climate change.
Sanders is also making America talk seriously about what I believe to be the issue of our generation: wealth inequality. My friends’ and peers’ enthusiasm for Sanders makes me excited about the future of our country. Thanks to his success as a candidate, I see a future where we will indeed achieve universal, single-payer health care and the demilitarization of the police and end our society’s warped glorification of the financial industry. Someday, we may even have a socialist party in America. Sanders has made me see it.
However, Sanders is not going to be the Democratic nominee. The mathematics of the delegate count cannot lie and experts across the Democratic party agree it is virtually impossible for Sanders to overcome Clinton’s lead in both regular delegates and in pledged superdelegates. This is not to mean that I think Bernie should pack it in and head home with his tail between his legs. I want him to continue talking about the issues he holds dear, especially wealth inequality. He should give his speech at the Vatican and hopefully another at the Democratic convention. But for the sake of party unity, I will beg his supporters, especially fellow millennials, not to forget the big picture.
With the makeup of the Supreme Court and, therefore, the future of election financing, abortion, voting rights and many other key issues at stake, we cannot allow the Republicans to seize upon our discord. After the close of the convention on July 28, we will all be in this together, no matter who is the nominee.
Young progressives, we need you to not only go and vote, but also to help turn out the coalition that elected President Barack Obama to the White House in 2008 and 2012. If you believe wealth inequality to be the issue of our generation, as I do, continue to draw on your passion this summer and beyond to make sure America does not stop talking about this issue. Whether it is coming to work or volunteering for Hillary’s campaign or urging your family, friends and neighbors to vote for progressive candidates, I beg you not to forget the big picture. No Republican is going to do much to remedy our society’s idolatry of wealth.
Although you may not love Hillary Clinton or agree with all her past or current positions, there is no denying that she is a superior choice to Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) or anyone else that the GOP would put up.
So let us finish out this nomination cycle with decorum, respect and enthusiasm for the historic victory we will achieve in November. Let us end the unnecessary demonization of our fellow progressives. For the sake of our great country, we must not forget the big picture and allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.
Emma Iannini is a senior in the School of Foreign Service.
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