LOS CHINGANDOS, CALIFORNIA — Susan Montoya is a 33-year-old lifetime resident of California, and up until very recently she was a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. Her decision to switch her vote to Hillary Clinton in California’s upcoming Democratic Primary, she says, came when she had a run-in with a Clinton supporter outside her local grocery store.
“I was coming out of Albertson’s and I had one of my Bernie buttons on,” Montoya tells us, “and I see this other woman come up to me out of the corner my eye. She asked me if I was really going to vote for Sanders in the primary, and I told her I was, she shifted her tone and body language, and I felt like I was in school. She asked me if I was going to vote for Sanders no matter, if I was Bernie or Bust.”
Montoya said that she told the Clinton supporter that since they lived in California, she had decided to “take a principled stand” with her vote and either write Sanders’ name in, or vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Montoya said that’s when the Hillary backer got visibly upset, and started alternating between condescending barbs and hysterical, frantic wailing about the dangers of a President Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.
“Oh, I see, you’re young, you just don’t get how these things work,” the Hillary supporter said, clucking with her tongue as she did so. Montoya said she alerted the Clinton fan to the fact that she was in her thirties and had voted for Barack Obama twice. The Clinton supporter wasn’t convinced. “Then surely you know it’s time for Sanders to give it up, in the name of beating the Republicans! You don’t know how bad it can be, because you’re clearly so young and naive, if we get a Republican president,” the Clinton backer shouted.
Susan told us she didn’t miss a beat.
“But didn’t Hillary stay in the race until June of 2008,” Montoya asked, “and don’t you think that the Democrats will just filibuster everything the Republican president wants, much like the GOP did to Obama? Also, Trump and Cruz are both losing to Clinton and Sanders in national polling right now, so isn’t that just a wee bit of scare mongering?”
The Clinton supporter dug in even further. Ms. Montoya says that for a full twenty minutes the two talked about voting, elections, the future of the country, and whether or not going Bernie or Bust in a safely predictable state would be the worst thing in the history of the world. “Are you going to Ralph Nader us and give us someone worse than George W. Bush as our next president,” the Clinton supporter asked incredulously.
“I don’t know, is the Democrat going to win their home state? Is the Supreme Court stacked with Republican nominees in the majority,” Montoya asked. The two argued back and forth for another ten minutes, and that’s when Susan says she started to feel “worn down” and “over it.”
Susan told the Hillary backer that she would change her vote.
“You know, I was going to make a stand and vote only on principle,” Montoya told the Clinton fan, “and not according to some preconceived notion of allegiance to a party that only sees me as a number, and when all the reasoned arguments and debates I had with Hillary supporters didn’t flip me.” But, Susan said, “it was when they really turned-up the condescension and hysteria over a potential Trump presidency that I decided to abandon my principles. It was just such a solid argument, really, that if I didn’t throw my undying allegiance to someone I initially didn’t want to vote for, I was giving America AIDS dipped in fire, wrapped in diarrhea.”
We asked Montoya if there was anything in particular that the Clinton supporter said that swayed her. She thought for a moment then answered.
“I particularly liked when she called me a Tea Partier,” Ms. Montoya said, “because I always thought the fact that I’m not trying to cut taxes to nothing, abolish the government, hate on Muslims, LGBT people, and I believe in climate change that I’m not really anything like the Tea Party, but you know when you’ve got a super-smart Hillary fan telling you you’re a Tea Partier, you just gotta listen to them.”