Reports show that as with religion and other traditional labels millennials tend to eschew partisan identification. Statistically millennials even while refraining from self-identification as Democrats tend to vote that way anyway.

I understand why many millennials abhor labels and distrust any institution to actually deliver on promises. Distrust of institutions is prevalent among the right and the left today with good reason. Yet every time I hear the scorn towards the “two party system” or the “I don’t vote based on party I vote based on person” I can’t help but think most who espouse these statements aren’t knowledgeable of politics or history or are ideologically shallow.

Now bear with me before calling me names. I’m not saying that the Democrats (or Republicans by any means) are a perfect party. Nor do I disagree there could be a wider array of choices to cover all of the stops on the spectrum of political preferences. But as it stands and has stood since the launch of the American experiment there have always been two opposing political mindsets: progressive and conservative. Those who seek to expand democracy and progress forward and those who wish to conserve it as it is or return it to a perceived golden age. Now, it just so happens that today in the US the Democratic party happens to be the progressive mainstream party–I concede the green party is even more progressive but that they’ve never had a legitimate chance at the White House and have remained on the periphery of American politics. Today the Republican party is the conservative party. Historically this hasn’t always been the case. From Lincoln and the inception of the Republican party to Theodore Roosevelt the Republican party was the  progressive party. Teddy on his failed third bid at President (after serving two terms prior to Taft) attempted to launch an official “progressive” party yet all it did was split the vote between Taft and himself and allow Wilson, a Democrat, to swoop in.

So I understand why one hesitates to call themselves “Democrat” if they perceive the party to fail to live up to progressive ideals. Yet I do not understand how one can be unsure whether they are progressive or conservative on most issues unless they just fail to comprehend those terms or their own ideology. As I see it, the constitution was a bold and progressive document that envisioned a progressive and open society where people were free to live and worship (or not worship) however they saw fit. Of course, the constitution was a document of its time and those who framed it were also of their time and often failed to live up to the scope and ideals therein. So the progressive cause  had to be continually taken up by those who sought to live out the core principles of the constitution and the American experiment, refining things each generation for a new age and bringing more and more people into the fold while simultaneously establishing a social safety net that valued people above profit. In each generation there have been those who sought to expand and progress–extending democracy to women and African Americans, instituting safeguards to protect workers and the environment and caring for the poor while providing them with a viable path out of poverty.

Today the popular sentiment seems to be that all of the choices suck. This is the safe thing to say in public. This is largely voiced by those who are or who lean Republican however. This is because the current crop of GOP candidates are caricatures or satires in action. This is the worst selection of Republican candidates in history. But really–this is a classic case of reaping what you sow for the Republican leadership. For years they have sown the seeds of hate, racism, xenophobia, misinformation, anti-intellectualism and hypocrisy and what has grown–by way of the tea party and the right-wing blogosphere–is Trump, Cruz and the clown car that has fallen to these two chief clowns. On the other side what do we have? A center left traditional Democrat who may be drifting further to the progressive side because of her political battle with the other candidate- a genuine and unabashed progressive who if possessing of any faults it is the classic political foible of promising more than is possible. Yet all in all we have two strong progressive candidates vying for the Democratic nomination. Of course there are the #Berniecrats who refuse to consider Hillary and will vote for Bernie no matter what even if by write-in but for most of us on the left we see that either of these candidates is capable and vastly superior to anything on display from the opposition.

A lot of ground has been made in the Obama presidency despite opposition and compromise. Either Hillary or Bernie can take the ball and roll with it. Those who hate Hillary do so either out of misogyny, hatred of party politics or personality politics. Do I think Bernie is the more progressive of the two? Certainly. Yet I hope they join forces and combine tickets to round each other out and secure all left votes,  #Berniecrats and all.

All choices do not suck. You are either a progressive ready to see progress continue in income equality, women and LGBT rights, racial relations and policies, immigration and refugees, climate change and education or you oppose these things for whatever reason and are left to consider voting for the worst yet most natural products of the natural evolution of your party or staying home. You also have to abandon the label of “patriotic” as you have proven in your approach to Obama for the past 8 years and to the candidates running now that you have no respect for leadership or policy or discussion that does not reflect your own biases and prejudices.