PUMA was the rallying cry of Hillary Clinton’s supporters in 2008. Cenk Uygur explains in the video above. Critics of the Bernie or bust movement are convinced or hoping that voters taking the pledge to either write in Senator Sanders or vote Green Party in the general election if he is not the nominee will come around and “properly” fear the conservative side of the political duopoly. Trump or Cruz or whomever comes out of the Republican Party Convention as the nominee will certainly be the greater of two evils, the supporters of Clinton will claim if she does secure the Democratic Party nomination. It’s time for party unity they’ll cry out, and Senator Sanders will probably join the chorus if he is not the nominee. However, Bernie or bust is not the same as PUMA in three significant ways.
In 2008 then Senator Clinton and then Senator Obama were virtually identical in terms of policy. The two significant differences were Hillary Clinton’s neo-conservative approach to foreign policy, including her vote in support of the Iraq War, and whether or not there should be a mandate to have health care insurance under a national health care insurance plan. Both candidates were backed by Wall Street, and both were part of the neo-liberal establishment. (Obama ended up adopting Clinton’s position in support of the mandate.) In 2016, Senator Sanders is clearly running against the establishment; and he’s framed his candidacy as a “political revolution.” The policy differences between Sanders and Clinton are significant in the areas of foreign policy, climate change and trade policies. (See “Bernie or bust pledge-takers are the ‘adults in the room'” below for details.) Secretary Clinton is an establishment candidate who will bring Americans more wars, more hydro-fracking and more so-called “free-trade agreements” which will replace democratic self-government with corporate self-government…just as the Framers intended (note sarcasm). Chances are excellent that very few of Secretary Clinton’s supporters grasp the fascistic characteristic of her (Wall Street’s) agenda.
In 2008, PUMA was adopted late in the primary season after Obama had seized the momentum in a string of caucus and primary victories. Bernie or bust is a strategy initiated by Revolt Against Plutocracy last summer. Understanding at that time the Democratic Party is rigged against insurgent candidates like Bernie Sanders, their strategy of building a movement of voters pledged to write in the Senator was designed to convey to Democrats that party unity will only be achieved by uniting behind the outsider. RAP deemed this strategy as “leverage” and eventually as “convention insurance” against establishment-oriented superdelegates.
PUMA was an expression of support for one candidate (Clinton) over another (Obama). Bernie or bust is a pledge. A pledge is not a petition. A pledge commits people, who take it, to follow up on it. Rarely does the media covering the Bernie or bust movement note this. Over 73,000 voters and counting will not be voting for Hillary Clinton in the general election. Pledge-takers, unlike the “sheep” (Sanders supporters), who will hold their noses and vote for Hillary Clinton if she is the nominee, are revolutionaries. Senator Sanders has sparked a political revolution against the neo-liberal establishment that has taken hold in voters’ awareness. The need for revolution in the United States can’t be forgotten. What revolutionary can be blackmailed into voting for an establishment candidate, especially one as dangerous as Hillary Clinton, because the candidate from the socially intolerant side of the political duopoly is deemed to be worse than the Democrat?
Voters supporting Secretary Clinton are hoping the Bernie or bust pledge-takers will come around, just as the PUMAs of 2008 did. They are also hoping that she will not be indicted for possible crimes surrounding her private server. In short, they are gambling on the twin hopes that she will not get indicted and the Bernie or bust movement will not lead to a rebellion against another establishment candidate. Unlike playing craps, there is a lot more to lose than one’s savings. Voters supporting Hillary Clinton are choosing the candidate with the greatest chance of being defeated in November. You would think that Democrats would know better than that.