Editor’s Note:We at Tikkun do not endorse any candidate or political party, and we know that there are people in our community who are members of the Green Party, and that some of our members in the Democratic Party are supporters of Hillary and some of Bernie. This article is not meant to take sides on how to vote. Rather, it is an expression of exasperation at one of the arguments made against voting for Bernie–namely that doing so is “unrealistic.” As those of you who follow Tikkun know, one of our major concerns is to help people move away from the notion that our political choices should be defined by what the media and political leaders tell us is or is not realistic. It is in that regard that we are sending you the article that appeared onSalon.com-written by Cat Zavis.–Rabbi Michael Lerner
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley (AP Photo/)(Credit: AP/Nati Harnik)
I can appreciate the concern and fear underlying the words of John Avignone (“I have had it with naïve Bernie Sanders idealists”) and Paul Krugman (who wrote a piece in the NYT saying Sanders was not realistic and we can only hope for the incremental change proposed by Hilary Clinton) and others who are choosing to support Clinton, even though they want our country to move further to the ideals and values put forth by Bernie than those expressed by Hillary.
They articulate a fear that I have heard spoken by many – Bernie is not electable and if Bernie is the Democratic nomination, a Republican (i.e., Trump) will win and we will be in a very dangerous situation. Their solution is to support Hillary rather than rally behind a candidate who – yes, has shortcomings, as do all the candidates – is trying to build a movement that would be there to support his reform efforts. He recognizes that he cannot create the meaningful and systemic change he seeks for the betterment of our country and the world on his own.
There has been throughout history, and will continue to be, a battle between two competing approaches to social change and underlying that, two worldviews. On the one hand, we have the view of Clinton and her supporters – the realists. The realists (and many involved in social change work fall into this camp) argue that we have to fight for what is achievable because otherwise we will be way worse off. In this case that means cast your vote for Hillary because she is more “realistic,” and thus more likely to win. This is essentially casting a vote for the lesser evil. This approach to social and political change is steeped in fear. Those in this camp believe that the only way we can arrive where we want to get is through incremental (i.e., realistic) change. But what they fail to understand is that those with power and money define their definition of realistic. When we narrow our vision of what is possible to what those in power tell us is possible, we actually bolster their power.
But there’s a reason people limit their vision. Putting forth a vision for radical transformation is a vulnerable and scary leap of faith. Millions of people rallied behind Obama’s call for hope. He professed that we are one country, not a nation of blacks and whites, but all one. He promised to work across the political divide to find solutions to the pressing issues before him and our nation. Within months of being in office, after the collapse of the economic system, Obama chose to bail out Wall Street rather than help Main Street, even though it was Main Street that put him in the White House.
As his tenure in office continued, he implemented policies and approaches that were in direct conflict with his election message (failing to close Guantánamo or end the war in Afghanistan, to name a few). People who were inspired by his message and whose hopes were raised that they finally had a progressive president who would fight for their interests rather than the interests of the elite became disillusioned and disenchanted. Many withdrew from politics and/or became supporters of local efforts to work for “realistic” change believing that transformative, systemic change is “unrealistic.”