Hillary did it. This week she became the first woman in history to be declared the presumptive nominee for any mainstream party in America and if you have been feeling the Bern, you are probably feeling the burn.
Look, I know how you feel. I was in your shoes eight years ago, faced with narrowing options and losing the chance to vote for the candidate I truly wanted. I’m not going to lie. It really sucks to watch someone you believe in get defeated and then have to switch gears and get behind someone you had previously opposed. You might feel like your time, effort, money and vote didn’t matter.
Here is what helped me eight years ago:
Voting for Hillary doesn’t mean you have to love Sanders less. Last round I had to jump on the Obama train. I did it. After the primaries I fundraised for him, voted for him and ultimately came to really love him as my president. But I didn’t stop loving Hillary. Which is why I am still here for her eight years later.
It won’t be the same and that’s ok. No one expects you to be a total convert. We know that Sanders is your guy and we don’t expect Hillary to be able to fill that shoe perfectly. But a vote is a vote and even lukewarm votes are counted. Trying not to hate Hillary will make it easier for you to cast that vote.
Know that your vote matters to fellow Democrats and we will receive you with grace. I benefited from this acceptance in my own household eight years ago because my new (at that time) husband was a die-hard Obama supporter (like take-all-your-vacation-days-to-canvas-kind-of-supporter and wait-in-line-at-a-rally-for-8-hours-kind-of-supporter and buy-expensive-original-campaign-art-kind-of-supporter). He knew that it was hard for me to switch gears and he didn’t rub it in.
We won’t either. We promise. We know Sanders is your guy and we aren’t debating that anymore, just offering some strategies to make the shift easier.
Take cues from your chosen leader in this moment and make sure they stay worthy of your support. The next few months are very important for our party and your revolution. You have the choice to pout or participate. Frankly I wanted to pout last time. I appreciated that in the moment Hillary showed me a way I could get behind Obama. She lead by example and her grace in defeat solidified my unending support for her even as I was casting my vote for Obama. I want a leader that can handle tough situations with grace and poise and sportsmanship. She was able to direct her supporters to Obama because she hadn’t crossed the line attacking him personally. Make sure your candidate keeps your respect in this moment.
Finally, remember what is at stake. I live in a special progressive bubble. My community is Berning up (at least according to the yard signs and bumper stickers of my neighbors) but I only have to drive across the county line to see the sea of Trump signs. We can’t defeat Trump without uniting behind one candidate. I’m sorry the numbers are not in your favor this time, but we can only get through this together.