Ben Richter is a sophomore telecommunications major and writes 'The Ben Richter Scale' for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Ben at brichter@bsu.edu.

This election cycle has been tumultuous to say the least. The country went from looking at Trump as a joke to seeing him ascend to frontrunner status in the race for the Republican nomination. On the other side, Bernie Sanders went from progressive sideshow to legitimate challenger.

But as the race slugs on, Hillary’s margin grows wider. The chances of Sanders becoming the nominee for the Democratic Party are slim to say the least, and it would seem the country is beginning to hear the bells signaling his defeat. Following this is the call, heard far and wide, for the democratic electorate to fall in. Party unity, it is said, is absolutely necessary to defeat the Republicans in the general.

Ben Richter

I’ve struggled with this notion personally. As a Bernie supporter, the idea of a Republican presidency (and as a result, a conservative Supreme Court and, possibly, Congress) is truly repugnant. This being said, the alternative we are given seems almost equally hard to stomach. This isn’t to disparage Hillary. I believe she is more than capable of running the country. She has the experience necessary, and quite obviously a large portion of the democratic electorate sees her as the more favorable of the two remaining contenders for the Democratic nomination.

But despite all of her qualifications, I will not vote for her. The contrasts drawn between the platform points of Bernie and Hillary are clear. The differences in priorities are clear. Hillary has still refused to release the transcripts. I know her supporters are tired of hearing about them, or they simply don’t care. I care. I believe if her immense team of counsels and staffers has not stressed the importance of the release of these transcripts enough to her, then they are not in touch with the concerns of like-minded Bernie supporters who are looking for alternatives. If they have stressed it and she has declined, then I firmly believe she thinks they would be damaging. Either way, the public has a right to know the content of those transcripts, especially because of their growing concern with the political structure’s relationship with lobbyists, super PACs and special interest groups.

I care about a corrupt campaign finance system. No candidate who accepts large donations to advance their political career, even if their political rhetoric condemns this practice, can be seen as a viable candidate in my opinion.

I care about our planet. I want a leader who looks at climate change with the same urgency as some Republicans look at refugees. I refuse to support a candidate who calls for obedience from, and simultaneously dismisses the concerns of, a vast and energized young demographic.

What I love most about Bernie is what he showed me, and I hope many others, as a voting individual. We are beholden to no party. We owe no allegiance to factions. Within every one of us are the principles and concerns we look for in our leadership.  We need not accept the “inevitable.” Change happens once we decide change can happen. Bernie has been around for a long time, espousing the same progressive views he articulates today. We, as voters, should carry on his fortitude. We must each, in the face of calls for unity and togetherness, never sacrifice our own personal ideology.

So to all the Bernie supporters on this campus grappling with the potential loss, if, when you are considering Hillary, and you find she is not up to your standards, do not give her your vote. Do not fall in. This is not a call for rebellion, this is a call for the emancipation of political values. Extricate your ideals from the labels and the colors and the animals. You are neither blue nor red, neither donkey nor elephant. You are an individual. Cast your vote as an individual. Pass careful judgment on all candidates and decide whom you think is the right choice. If Trump wins, so be it. Falling in forces no change.