PHILADELPHIA—On Tuesday evening at the Democratic National Convention, hundreds of Bernie Sanders delegates and supporters staged a walk out, streaming out of the arena and toward the sprawling media tent city that takes up most of its parking lot.
By the time I arrived, there was already what looked like one reporter for every protester, so I did what any enterprising young journalist would do and stood helplessly behind another reporter so I could eventually ask a few questions, too.
That is where I met Daniel Killbride, a guest of a delegate from Tulsa, Okla., who looked to be in his 20s.
When I walked up, he was talking about the New York primary, which Sanders lost to Hillary Clinton by 16 points. Sanders supporters are still upset about voter purges that are still being investigated. And New York makes it harder to change parties than basically any other state, which disenfranchises unaffiliated or independent voters in the state who, say, might have wanted to vote for Bernie Sanders.
"Things like this are not conducive to a democratic society, and I think they need to be changed," Killbride calmly explained to the other reporter.
Then he brought up Gary Johnson, the libertarian candidate.
"I personally will not vote for Hillary Clinton. I realize that might mean getting Donald Trump elected, and I don't want to see that," he said. "I would love for a grassroots movement to surround the Green Party. Or even Gary Johnson. I am not a libertarian by any means, but—"
This is where his other interview ended and when we started talking—mostly about the "bust" part of Bernie or Bust. That is, what happens if Bernie supporters stay home and Donald Trump really is elected president?
Killbride believes it wouldn't be that bad. I am skeptical of that claim. We talked about it.
Our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.
Sanders' campaign has been so much about poverty and building out the systems and safety nets that support people in poverty. Gary Johnson is a candidate who actively wants to dismantle those things. I am not trying to be an asshole, but as I hear him pitched as an alternative—
There is that part of me that fears that giving a conservative base movement more power could, in the long run, damage our country. There is that chance. I'm not going to say that there's not that chance. But I think that all voices need to be heard. I'm not a libertarian, and I would prefer to see something like the Green Party or the Socialist Alternative Party, but I also think that we do have a Congress and we do have some level, even if it's not the perfect level, of checks and balances. And I don't think anyone could ever dismantle a lot of our support systems at this point. Possibly, it could be damaging in the long term, but if you want to decrease funding of the military and end the war on drugs, then I will vote for you for a four-year term.
Or even in the event of a Trump presidency combined with Paul Ryan's austerity budget or something like it. Or the kinds of policing that would be required for the mass deportations that Trump is running on, or the kinds of policing of Muslim communities he's called for and the consequences of that. Just, like, what then?
At that point we would see liberals united. We might actually see a very united liberal or progressive left.
But do you think that might be possible without all the catastrophic stuff first?
I hope that there's no giant level of policing or militarism, but if that were to happen, it would honestly take me by surprise. I would like to think that we have a well-formed democracy, even if it is broken on some levels.