Voice Letters: Readers Debate Over Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton
Drew Friedman for the Village Voice
Our February 10 cover story, “Feel the Yern: Why One Millennial Feminist Would Rather Go to Hell Than Vote for Hillary,” generated a tidal wave of reader reaction. The piece, written by Holly Wood, went online the day before the New Hampshire primary. By the time it appeared in print 36 hours later, Bernie Sanders was celebrating a decisive victory over Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, the comments kept on coming. We’ve compiled some of that correspondence below, edited for length and clarity.
Hear Me Out...
My wife read this piece aloud to me. She told me to close my eyes and just listen. We’re both writers, so I know she was trying to make a point — and I have to say, this not only is the most well-written piece I've read on this subject, but the author manages to sum up my feelings and frustrations with the establishment we've been living under for so long. It no longer feels like we can afford to make a preference between lesser-evils — we have to actually vote for GOOD. Real good, not another layer of cellophane wrap over the rotting carcass of the American Dream. If we don't start acting collectively for the well-being of our environment, our fellow humans, and indeed our tangible economy and infrastructure, then we're not long for this world. Thank you, Holly Wood, for putting this so succinctly and knocking it out of the park.
— Eruch Adams, via Facebook
It's been enjoyable watching young people decide that enough is enough is enough. The wealthy and the elites don't have a clue about why the millennials are so rightly angry at our state of affairs. But now they see clearly that there is a better system, and that's why they are "feeling the yern." Let's start the revolution.
— Francis Janes, via Facebook
Don't Be Like Us
Holly Wood's piece is the most inspiring, wonderful thing I have read in a long while (and I read a lot). It gives me renewed hope for the future of this country. Go forth, young rebels, and reclaim your future from this mess you have inherited from us boomers. My generation sold out — make sure yours does not. I will be voting for Bernie right along with you. This old hippie has NOT sold out!
— Jean Butler, via Facebook
Consider the Courts
I have liked and admired Secretaries Albright and Clinton, and Ms. Steinem, for many years, but I am with the millennials on this one. Even I was insulted by their tone-deaf comments — and I'm 55. I DO understand that Roe v. Wade is on shaky ground and has been consistently attacked for many years. That's why, if Hillary wins the nomination, I will vote for her. Otherwise, it's BERNIE, all the way. We MUST NOT allow the Republicans to appoint those justices. It's no more impractical for Bernie to be successful than it has been for President Obama (who I gladly voted for, both times) to work with a Congress and Senate that will not work with him. I admire Bernie for not changing his beliefs and priorities and I hope and pray he will be the actual change we need to bring the poor and middle class back to the priorities they should always have been.
— Becky Butler, via Facebook
President, Schmesident. It's All About Congress
I do wish we didn't have to demonize our candidate choices in order to support our own, which is obviously what this inflammatory title, and much of the language in your article, is doing. However, putting that aside, the most important things millennials have to do, and follow through on, is voting in every single election. Millennials went to the polls in droves for Barack Obama and then failed to show up for their own statewide and congressional elections!
A president may actually be your least important vote, so if you're going to get all fired up about this, could you and your fellow millennials please try to sustain it and raise the abysmal turnout numbers in this country? Then, and only then, will a progressive agenda be able to be even slightly accomplished!
— Wendy Turkington, via Facebook
Beware of False Promises
I'm a Hillary supporter, so the author's contempt didn't add much flavor for me and was only a distraction. I am excited to see the enthusiasm and involvement of young (and old) due to the unique and sincere Mr. Sanders. I would prefer to avoid the problems that revolutionary parties have always had in seeking purity — the strength of the Democratic Party has been its big tent. Allowing pro-lifers, corporations, and even gun advocates a seat at the table seems to me evidence of a confidence and strength in the party, rather than showing lack of principle. I don't think the solutions are obvious. I do think that capitalism has built-in corruption. I do think that corruption needs to be limited by law. I don't think there is another economic system that works better. I don't think that democracy automatically creates justice. I still think democracy is the best political system. I do think that even when you fight hard and get people involved, our governmental structure is designed to make it hard to implement change, even smart and moral change. Given that, I believe people like Bernie, who promise what they can't deliver, damage their own cause and create cynicism. On this last point: See our current president and the entirety of the Republican machine.
— Jonathan Rooke, via Facebook
Trump and Sanders are two sides of the same coin and they are leading for the same reason: The electorate in the most privileged society the earth has ever seen has been convinced that it has something to be angry about because professional activists on both the right and left have hijacked the discussion. The U.S. has gone off the rails; the wingnuts are running the show. Oh how I hope Bloomberg decides to run if these yahoos end up winning their respective nominations!
— Lance Smith, via Facebook
A Note From the Converted
I grew up in a Republican household, the kind where "bleeding-heart liberal" was meant as powerful invective. Now I am one. I have not voted Republican since Bush the First. It has long been my disappointment that the best I could vote for was a mildly left "lesser of two evils." I've been voting for thirty years to move that needle even just a little bit toward common sense and progressivism. To me, the two are the same. Now, finally, we have Senator Sanders (who I did have the honor of once voting for as mayor) and I can vote GLADLY, confidently, and eagerly for a candidate who gets it, who understands the issues just as I do, rather than voting against pure evil and greed.
I just hope that there are enough people who've woken up, can see the writing on the wall, and know that GENDER is the WORST reason to vote for a candidate. I am not voting against Secretary Clinton because she is a woman. I am voting against her because she is a liar and a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street, the media, and Monsanto. Vive la révolution! Vive Bernie!
— Aslan Balaur, via Facebook
And If He Loses?
This is all very admirable, but a simple question: If Hillary wins the nomination and faces any Republican nominee, will you support her? Because if you truly believe in Bernie's ideals, then you had better do whatever it takes to ensure the GOP does not control all three branches of the federal government. So please, by all means, support Bernie in this primary and push the conversation to the left as far as possible, but if Hillary comes out on top, please please PLEASE do not forget what the bigger battle is. Hillary will nominate Supreme Court justices who will uphold Roe v. Wade. No Republican president will. This is the battle for the next generation of this country. Don't become so enamored with one primary candidate that you forget the long game.
If you really think there would be no difference between a Clinton presidency and a Cruz or Rubio or Trump presidency, you are dangerously naive. The next president could and likely will change the current balance of the Supreme Court in a long-lasting way. If you stay home in November because you didn't get your perfect nominee and President Cruz repeals the ACA and appoints justices who reinforce Citizens United, reverse Roe v. Wade, and destroy marriage equality for the next 25 years, you should be ashamed of yourself.
If Sanders is the nominee, I will wholeheartedly support him. I support him in this primary. I might not be as convinced as some that he can win a general election, and that makes me nervous, but I support his policies and share many of the concerns about Clinton. But this kind of demonization of Clinton from Democrats is dangerous.
— Eric Wais, via Facebook
You sound just like me — when I voted for Ralph Nader. And then we got eight years of George Bush. Make no mistake, I love Bernie and I'll be happy to vote for him if he's the nominee. But when you imagine that your idealism will serve the country better than a vote that keeps Rubio, Cruz, or Trump out of the White House, you put real people at risk. The perfect becomes the enemy of the good again.
— Eve Moran, via Facebook
Bernie's No Different
Bernie Sanders represents white male privilege for the 21st century, not progressivism. Putting him in power sets people of color and their struggle back. We're not looking for some smiling white savior.
— Roger Cambell, via Facebook
A Job Well Done
I want to praise Holly Wood for this insightful and, frankly, riveting piece of analysis. Some have found some irony in the support for Sanders from millennials, particularly young women, but after hearing Madeleine Albright's threatening warning I was waiting for a journalist with the insight to push back — and you've done it with great skill. Keep on comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.
— Peter Lance, via Facebook
Hillary? Or a Feminist President?
I would like to see a real feminist president, and that does not necessarily mean a woman president. I think the issues of wages, education, child care, and health care are women's issues, and Bernie's take on those issues matches mine. I forgive Gloria Steinem because her life's work outweighs her mistaken impression of young female voters. I owe her a great debt and a very personal one, as her writing lifted me out of defeatism in the face of small-town adolescent sexism as a young woman. Funny that they are always saying "under 45" and "over 45" feminists are different.... Well, I am 44, so maybe that is why I am both forgiving and appreciative of my parents' generation of feminists AND 100 percent sure Bernie is the feminist I want to see in office.
— Jodi Carman, via Facebook
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