Progressives must continue to critique Hillary Clinton in order to defeat Donald Trump

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If Bernie Sanders and his progressive base have succeeded in moving the Democrats and Hillary Clinton to the left, why should they stop?

Apparently, progressives should save all criticism of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party in order to unite and defeat Donald Trump.

This would be a critical mistake for progressives.

Reject any narrative that says Bernie Sanders has won a moral victory by pulling Hillary Clinton and Democrats to the left, and because of Hillary Clinton’s and Democrats’ leftward movement, Bernie supporters should forgo criticism of Clinton in order to unite the Democratic Party to ensure a Donald Trump defeat in November.

Donald Trump is the harbinger of xenophobia, racism and idiocy, but Donald Trump is not the end all be all of inequality. Keeping a xenophobic racist out of the oval office does not keep xenophobia and racism out of the office.

It may feel good, and perhaps be easy to beat our liberal chest and call Donald Trump all of the epithets he has earned, but if Americans make a villain out of Donald Trump while making heroes out of the Democratic party and Hillary Clinton, I am afraid we’ll be missing the point.

Party unity under Obama did not stop the U.S. from killing unarmed brown people—both domestic and abroad—with bullets and bombs. Party unity did not guarantee universal healthcare. Party unity did not stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and did little to challenge extreme militarism. Party unity did not stop the Obama administration from, as Donald Trump would say, “getting the illegals out of America” by adopting a strict illegal immigration policy.

It is not the responsibility of Bernie Sanders or his base to shepherd voters to the Democratic Party (a party which did not embrace him or his voters). A vote that isn’t cast for Hillary Clinton isn’t the fault of the voter—it’s her job to do what she can to earn her votes.

When did advocating for progressive values become equated with supporting a Republican candidate? When Sanders supporters advocate for policies on the Sanders platform, they are taking a stand against Donald Trump.  Sanders and his supporters need to continue to advocate for progressive values because we have witnessed what happens when progressives stop progressing to rally behind a candidate, and not rally behind values.

If Sanders supporters fall into the trap of “I’m with her” they will inevitably have to attack Donald Trump for not releasing his tax returns, while finagling their moral compass to defend Clinton for not releasing the transcripts of her speeches on Wall Street.  They will need to attack Republicans for taking money from the NRA while giving such an awful organization extreme influence over policy, but save any criticism of Democrats for embracing money from private prisons and Wall Street. They will have to denounce fascism, but refrain from criticizing oligarchy.

Criticism toward Hillary Clinton is not an act of political traitorship; it is an act of political integrity. And, as I have been told, Hillary Clinton is a strong woman. Her supporters are with her; they can handle the criticism. As long as Clinton herself handles it appropriately without tossing us to the side, there’s no reason why we can’t have strong unity to soundly defeat Trump come November.

 

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Anthony Conwright

Anthony Conwright is a contributor to Save Main St. and a signature blogger with the Huffington Post. He is currently a graduate student in San Diego working on a degree in Teacher Leadership. Follow his blog, www.blackandwordy.com, and find him on Twitter: @aeconwright

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