Blue Plate Specials: The Fierce Urgency of Voting vs Staying Home

With Clinton the presumptive nominee, the choice Sanders voters now face is a blue plate special: voting for Clinton versus staying home.

The term was common in the 1950s, when diners often served “blue plate specials,” low-priced pre-cooked meals served on blue plates. Choices were limited. If you wanted the roast chicken, you got the mashed potatoes and the English peas; if you wanted the ham, you got the brussels sprouts and the sweet potatoes. No substitutions.

As hard as it is, Sanders supporters should get our butts out to the polls in the fall and vote for Clinton, even if, in the best of all possible worlds, we would rather have Bernie in the White House. He’s just not on the menu anymore.

This is not the best of all possible worlds. We don’t get exactly what we want all the time, or even most of the time. The best we can do get as much as possible by continuing to inch the ball toward our ultimate goal. How? By evaluating the candidates on offer by this measure alone: which one is most likely to move the policy ball toward my goals?

For Sanders supporters, that choice should be easy, because on many policy goals Sanders and Clinton are pretty close together. Not only does Trump present a danger to our democracy, should he win, but even if we could rely on what Trump says (which no one can), he isn’t even in the same policy ballpark as Clinton, much less Sanders, and if Congress is still under GOP control when the dust settles, whatever happens will not even be within hailing distance of policy goals you and I support.

So, my fellow Sanders voters, if you were drawn to Bernie only because you just love him and would be so thrilled if he were in the White House, you might as well stay home from now through election day, because that ain’t happening. But if you were drawn to Sanders because you believe in his policy goals, staying home will defeat them. Our only chance of seeing at least some of those goals be achieved is to work for and vote for the only candidate who shares most of them, not only this year but in off years as well.

Despite her notable flaws, the candidate who shares those goals is Clinton, not Trump. So unless we are willing to turn our back on the hopes and goals that Sanders represents, we must vote on election day and vote for Clinton. Not voting for Clinton only helps Trump. Not voting for the down ballot Democrats helps the Republican obstructionists. If Clinton wins and we can turn the Senate and maybe the House blue, many of our policy goals can be achieved, not the least of which is appointing justices who will abandon the right wing path the Supreme Court has been following. Right now, there is no other way to achieve any of our goals.

So this election, like always, is a blue plate special: you want some of Sanders’ policies, you vote for Clinton and the Democrats; you want none of them, you stay home. No substitutions.

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