Not “feeling the Bern:” Being a non-Bernie supporter at Mac

Macalester seems to have become saturated with supporters of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, from stickers and posters, to every other conversation in Café Mac, to multiple articles and mentions in The Mac Weekly, weekly. Of course, it makes sense to surround yourself with rhetoric from and news about your preferred candidate.

I myself would love to see more Hillary Clinton supporters vocalizing their opinions on campus, as the Republican students of Macalester would like to see with their candidates. I personally support Clinton because her policies are most in line with my own beliefs, and her goals are more realistic and attainable. Her experience is unbeatable, especially in international relations, which is extremely important considering the United States’s rocky relations with countries such as Russia and China. I also don’t support Sanders’s economic policies, nor have I seen him sufficiently address issues other than Wall Street, big banks and socialism.

However, when everything Sanders-related has permeated the entire community, it’s not difficult for non-supporters to feel isolated or unwelcome, or become hesitant to speak about their dissent at all. Even Mac Dems (Macalester Democrats) meetings can feel a bit awkward for the few Clinton supporters — especially last week’s meeting, which quickly turned into a Hillary-bashing session — even though the organization itself does not support one candidate over another. The situation must feel worse for Republicans — at least Clinton and Sanders supporters have the Democratic party to loosely unite them. However, whether you are a Clinton supporter or a Republican, and whether you are vocal about it or not, it can feel uncomfortable being surrounded with constant, and often aggressive, Sanders propaganda or people trashing your candidate instead of advocating for their own. Many reporters have also noticed this trend, including Paul Krugman of The New York Times, who points out the “intolerance and cultishness of some … supporters.”

With this opinion piece, I don’t want to encourage supporters to stop talking about or advocating for Sanders — that’s what a responsible, politically-active member of society should be doing. However, I feel that it is necessary to point out that when a community is so heavily one-sided towards a single candidate and so hostile towards the others, it can isolate the minority, whose feelings and opinions matter too, and discourage them from speaking their mind. Despite conflicting opinions and preferences, students shouldn’t be alienating their peers.

I would simply like to remind students that there are other opinions represented on campus, and that our community should make all people feel included and comfortable voicing their opinions, no matter what or how unpopular their political alignment is.