I'm writing this post with my good friend Mike Hersh, who has long been an activist for social justice and women's equality.
Terry: Mike Hersh, you and I have been friends for a long time. You have served as a co-president of Maryland NOW, and we have worked alongside each other in feminist and progressive circles in Montgomery County, MD, where we both live. You were a supporter of Bernie Sanders during the primaries, but now now you're urging your fellow progressives to vote for Hillary Clinton, and to work for her election. Why?
Mike: Terry, while I understand that some of Bernie's supporters aren't with us yet, I think the answer is obvious. True, when Bernie conceded the nomination to Secretary Clinton and assigned all of his delegates to her in Philly, it was a very disappointing moment for those of us who worked so hard for Bernie. I was in the convention hall, and I had tears in my eyes as Bernie spoke. I was so inspired by his dignity and thoughtfulness, as I've been as long as I can remember.
I don't see Bernie's concession as the end of Bernie's Revolution. Far from it. I agree with Bernie that a Trump presidency could be the end, however, and would at the very least set progress back several decades. As the general election approached, I felt I had to speak out about the shameful, hateful threat Donald Trump represents, and also the need to help elect Hillary Clinton to stop Trump.
Terry: Let's talk about Trump first. What's your take on him?
Mike: On June 16, 2015, Donald Trump descended on an escalator to launch his campaign, and he kept on descending when he began speaking. He immediately reached an all-time low for presidential politics with a racist rant calling Mexican immigrants "rapists" and "murderers." It's shocking that a candidate would choose to make an abusive, bigoted tirade the keynote of his campaign. This set a hateful, divisive, and dishonest tone the Trump campaign has followed ever since.
To me, Trump embodies the exact opposite of all the values that Bernie Sanders exemplifies. Trump personally attacked his primary opponents, mocking them for everything from their appearance to their sexual prowess. He is temperamentally unfit for office. His policies would exacerbate rather than solve our economic, national security, and social problems.
Trump denies climate change. He pushes Islamaphobia and calls for a bigoted, unconstitutional religious test for people seeking access to this nation. He exposes his callousness and misogyny when he says women who are sexually harassed should go find another job.
We as progressives know our nation must move forward, but Trump vows he will take us back to the bad old days of Jim Crow, nativism, and sexism. He calls that making America Great Again, but he would really just make America hate again.
Terry: No disagreement from me there! Now let me give you my take on Hillary Clinton. I love the line she used again in Monday's debate: "A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons."
Why do you suppose the mainstream media keeps harping on Hillary's supposed flaws while not focusing on Trump's serious shortcomings? I think the biggest reason is that she is a woman who is unapologetically seeking the U.S. presidency. As Sady Doyle has pointed out,
when women seek power--for example, by running for the nation's highest office--a Yale study reports that "participants experienced feelings of moral outrage (i.e. contempt, anger, and/or disgust) towards them" and that "women were just as likely as men to have negative reactions.
Mike: I agree that Hillary is facing a breathtaking double standard. Trump is synonymous with sexism. He's habitually attacked women in terms a drunken frat boy would consider in bad taste. Seriously, the prospect of a President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence is appalling. Trump appointing Cabinet Secretaries and other top level officials who would direct hundreds of thousands of public servants to carry out his bizarre policies is unacceptable.
As an attorney, I consider the prospect of Donald Trump nominating one, two, or even three Supreme Court Justices to lifetime tenure, thereby shaping our jurisprudence for generations, terrifying. The thought of Trump commanding our military into even one catastrophe is horrifying. As progressives, we can prevent all of this. As Americans, it is our duty to do so.
Terry: And I would add to that, Mike, by reflecting for a moment on how progressive Hillary Clinton's proposals are, more progressive than any Democratic nominee in recent history. Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, said her agenda is
more complete, more focused on generating wage growth and jobs than I've seen from other candidates [since the 1980s]--and therefore I think it's more progressive.
Just think about the profound difference Hillary's proposals will make to millions of Americans including issues I know matter deeply to you as a feminist progressive who cares about economic justice and equality.
Hillary will continue to fight for paid family leave and paid sick days, ending gender and race wage discrimination, affordable childcare, universal pre-k, fair wages for childcare providers, free tuition at 4-year colleges for families earning less than $125,000 and free tuition at community colleges with onsite childcare facilities, and student debt relief for graduates.
Also, she will push for full insurance coverage for all reproductive health care services, including abortion care and birth control, a public option under Obamacare, and letting anyone over 55 to buy into Medicare.
Hillary will work to make it easier for workers to form unions and bargain collectively, raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour, and include tipped workers in the minimum wage. She will advocate for a $500 billion public works jobs plan, half funded by the federal government and half by private investors through an infrastructure bank.
She will tighten rules on banks, and regulate the "shadow banking" system that played a large role in the crash of 2007, as well as require the wealthiest to pay their fair share of income tax, payroll tax, and estate taxes. She will work to end the systemic racism that create huge wealth and health disparities for African American and Latino families. She will seek to enact comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship, and shutdown of all private detention centers.
Hillary is committed to ending voter suppression, restoring voting rights of Americans who have paid their debt to society, and make it easier--not harder--to register and vote. She will dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, hold police accountable for excessive force, and promote the use of body cameras for all officers. She will end mass incarceration by eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for some crimes and cutting all other mandatory minimums in half.
Mike: That's a very good start to the Progressive America we need in the 21st century, and Hillary's Agenda is a stark contrast to Donald Trump's. Trump is for nearly everything that Bernie Sanders--and his supporters like me--reject.
I'm calling upon all my fellow Bernie Sanders supporters to take a good, hard look at what the candidates believe and what kind of country they want us to live in. Bernie thinks millions of people should determine our nation's policies. Trump thinks only millionaires should determine our nation's policies.
Somehow Trump--long known for juvenile attacks on women, dishonestly claiming President Obama is a foreigner, and vilifying minorities--successfully blustered and bullied his way through the Republican primaries. He preached distrust and division with reckless rhetoric.
Astoundingly, despite his harsh, frivolous message Trump prevailed over several more competent and qualified candidates. This is the last clear chance to stop the Trump travesty from taking over American foreign and domestic policy. We must unite to stop Trump and Pence from seizing power.
Terry: I know, right? I never thought I'd feel sorry for Jeb Bush!
Mike: Same here, Terry! Or Marco Rubio. A deal breaker is a condition that can neither be accommodated nor accepted. Donald Trump presents so many deal breakers to me, to Bernie Sanders, and I think to all Bernie Sanders supporters and all other reasonable people. To me, it's a very stark and simple choice. Trump's candidacy should be relegated to punchlines in late night comedy monologues.
But Trump is no longer funny. We must take this very seriously. As the polls show, a notorious bigot, a simpleton who lacks even the most basic understanding of policy, a rude charlatan is currently in a statistical tie with the serious, experienced Hillary Clinton.
This is so important. It's time to get real and realize just who this man is as he is threatening to win the White House. People have to recognize the danger. It can and will happen unless we stop it. We must act now, because a Trump-Pence administration can't happen if we refuse to let it happen.
Some of my friends are talking about voting for a third party candidate, and while I respect their integrity, we must all understand a basic fact. On November 8th, one of two people will be elected as the 45th president of the United States: either Hillary Rodham Clinton or else Donald Trump.
As an unapologetic Bernie Sanders supporter, I'm calling upon my progressive sisters and brothers to join me in doing all we can to prevent the impending disaster of a Donald Trump presidency.
For all the reasons we've discussed and so many more, our next president cannot be Donald Trump, the man who opposes everything Bernie Sanders stands for, and who's done more to degrade our politics than anyone else in recent memory. For so many reasons, we must elect Hillary Clinton.
Terry: As a proud feminist progressive, I couldn't agree more, Mike. Thank you for a great conversation.
Mike: Thank you, Terry. Let's win this!