Dear Bernie,

Dear Bernie,

I sometimes ask myself, “What would Bernie do?” when I’m puzzling over a problem involving interaction with my fellow humans. I know you would always treat people fairly. I know you would be above all the jostling and ego stuff that sometimes gets in my way when I’m trying to be a good human. I know there are things that just don’t matter to you – and that SHOULDN’T matter to me – and I’m trying my best to emulate you. You know what’s important. You keep your priorities straight. You are above the nonsense that I struggle with too much of the time. And so I’m turning to you now because I’d like your wisdom and advice.

Back in 2016 (and man, that seems a long time ago now) I was really hoping you’d win the Democratic nomination, and go on to become President. You were my favorite presidential candidate EVER. But when your workers would call my home they never wanted to talk with me – they always wanted to talk to my twenty-something son. This happened time and time again. “Hello? We’re calling from the Bernie Sanders campaign and we’d like to talk to Andrew.”

I so wanted to let them know that I was a Bernie supporter, too, but they never seemed interested in what I had to say. I was brushed aside – and I know it was because of my age and gender. Everyone assumed I was a Hillary Clinton supporter. This was frustrating. Exasperating. It hurt. Finally –  probably the fifth or sixth time your campaign people called asking for my son – I blurted out, “EVERYone in this house is for Bernie – my husband, myself, my son…”

And I remember the happy surprise on the other end of the line, “Really?! Everyone?! YOU, TOO?!!” 

Sheesh.

When we went to the local district caucus the room was packed full of baby boomers like myself – and only a handful of them were for Hillary Clinton. The room was hot and stuffy with excitement, and one of my fellow boomers yelled out, “Feel the Bern!” It was awesome.

So here’s the thing: The millennials – the generation whose turn it is to lead the charge now and get our nation through its current mess – are considering starting their own party. And I guess I don’t blame them – they must be frustrated, as I have been through the years, by the unwieldy political parties we currently have.  But… how do I help the millennials see that there are a lot of boomers like me who are actually on their side – wanting what they want – wanting to help? When I march and stand in front of the courthouse these days I see as many senior citizens as youngsters participating – and that makes me happy.

Everything has become a competition, Bernie. I was at the GLBT Pride festival – happy to be celebrating with our GLBT community – and saw someone was holding a sign that said, “Gay people do it better.” I saw a little girl wearing a tee-shirt that read: “Anything boys can do, girls can do better.” And it made me feel disappointed in humanity. I don’t think it should be a matter of somebody being “better” or doing things “better” – it should be a matter of people being accepted for who they are – of celebrating our differences and the perspective we each have to offer to the community. Differences in religion and non-religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation – and age, too – shouldn’t be viewed as a reason to compete, but as a means to seeing the world in a new way. In my opinion.

Dividing progressives by generation, gender, religion, or whatever, isn’t going to fix our country, Bernie. Progressives have to come together if they want to change what’s wrong.

So what would you do? How would you bring progressives together? What advice can you give us?

Sincerely,

Karen Molenaar Terrell

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What are your expectations of a U.S. President?

Here are some of my expectations of a President of the United States (in no particular order). I expect a President to –
1) – consider herself/himself a servant/employee rather than a master/ boss.
2) – be more concerned about the welfare of others than himself/herself.
3) – have the humility to work in the trenches alongside the poor, homeless, and disenfranchised.
4)  – value education and learning for himself/herself and others.
5)  – have a reputation for honesty and fairness with others.
6)  – respect the lives of the people he/she represents.
7)  – take the responsibilities of President seriously.
8)  – be committed to making the world a better place.
9)  – be able to carry on an even-tempered, rational dialogue with other leaders.
10)  – believe in global warming
11) – work to ensure the equal rights of ALL people of the US – regardless of gender, ethnicity, race, religion, non-religion, or age.
12) – know how to laugh at herself/himself.

Don’t Take My Vote for Granted Next Time

“(Elizabeth Warren) said that when Perez won the party post early this year, ‘the very first conversation I had with him [was] to say, you have got to put together a Democratic Party in which everybody can have confidence that the party is working for Democrats, rather than Democrats are working for the party.’” – quoted by Nick Visser, HuffPost

Well, we have a mess here and that’s for sure. The question is: How do we fix it?

Look, I voted for Hillary Clinton because I felt I had no choice last November. Our only other option was Trump. And. Yeah. Don’t even get me started on THAT one. There was a lot of pressure put on progressives by the Democratic party to vote for Clinton. We were guilted. Those, like myself, who had been Bernie supporters were especially guilted. In fact, some people STILL blame Bernie’s supporters for this mess – which is kind of like blaming the victim of a purse snatching for having a purse.

It’s been bandied around a lot that Clinton lost because she was a woman. But no, I wasn’t reluctant to vote for her because she’s a woman. I would have eagerly voted for Elizabeth Warren, for instance.  I was reluctant to vote for her because I didn’t think the Democratic candidate, or those who counseled her, recognized the need to get out and talk to the disenfranchised, homeless, poor, and unemployed. There was the same old emphasis on getting campaign money from the rich and powerful and sort of ignoring everyone else. This is not to say that I thought the Democratic candidate didn’t care about the poor, but that she seemed sort of oblivious to them, you know?

People have suggested that Bernie Sanders shouldn’t have tried to run as a Democrat because he’d never really been a part of the party machine – he hadn’t “paid his dues” to the party like Clinton had, I guess – and it’s been suggested that he should have run as a third party candidate. But if Sanders had run as a third party candidate he would have split the progressive vote – and how would that have helped our country? So 1) Sanders couldn’t run as a Democrat and expect to get the party’s nomination and 2) he couldn’t run as a third party candidate without splitting the progressive vote. How do we fix this cockamamie system?

Progressives need a presidential candidate in 2020 who can be a voice for the middle and lower classes – someone, like Bernie Sanders, who reaches out to the “common folk” and walks their walk with them.

As I see it, we have to either do an over-haul on the Democratic party which is supposed to be representing us, or we throw it out altogether and create something entirely new. But I’ll tell you this:  In the next election, if the Democratic party refuses to transform itself, it should not take my vote for granted. Guilting me isn’t going to work again.

(Here’s an interesting article from the Huffington Post: Elizabeth Warren Says 2016 Democratic Nomination Rigged for Hillary Clinton. )

A Political Vent (you might want to skip this one)

I voted for Hillary Clinton in November 2016. Because Trump.

But I wanted Bernie.

Hillary Clinton is telling us now that the lack of respect from Bernie and his supporters “hurt.” But the manner in which the Democratic party (under the leadership of Debbie Wasserman Schultz) ignored Bernie Sanders, ignored the huge rallies and the enthusiasm of his supporters, “hurts.” Clinton’s narrow-visioned, egocentric take on the presidential election is proof to me that she should never have won the Democratic nomination for President. I wished then, and I wish now, that Clinton would have stepped aside when she saw the wave of enthusiasm that Bernie had behind him. He would have won the presidency and we wouldn’t be dealing with what we’re dealing with now.

I remember thinking “big deal” when Clinton won all those states in the south in her race to win the Democratic nomination. I knew those southern states weren’t going to vote for Clinton in the general election. Winning those southern states meant nothing. I could see that it was the northern states, the Pacific states, the states in the northeast – the blue states – that mattered in the race for the Democratic nomination. The southern states were going to vote Republican in the end. They were not going to vote for Clinton in November.

If Clinton had really had the best interests of the country at heart, rather than her own single-minded, blind, dogged determination to be the first woman President, she would have seen that, too. But she didn’t. The fact that she STILL doesn’t see it is testament to me that she should never have been the nominee for President.

Clinton did a terrible disservice to our nation by not stepping aside and letting Bernie Sanders lead the charge. To feel “hurt” because he didn’t drop out of the race right away has me shaking my head. The presidency of the United States is not some prize to be won by the biggest ego. Neither is it supposed to be a job promotion to whoever gives the most money and time to her (his) political party. The President of the United States is supposed to represent ALL Americans – not just Democrats, not just Republicans, and not just the wealthy and powerful.

And for those of you who are posting a defense of Clinton and telling your readers they aren’t allowed to respond to your post in a negative way: tough bananas. This is still America and I am still allowed to openly disagree with you.

Please can we have a viable candidate in 2020?

 

Let’s Not Stop Fighting for the Ideas, Okay?

I took my Bernie bumper sticker off my car before I left for work yesterday morning. Bernie Sanders had a noble and honorable run for the presidency. I believe he accomplished a lot that was good and important during his bid for the White House, and I’m beyond grateful to him for that. But, for me, it was never about rooting for a personality – it was always about the ideas Bernie supported. I’ve always tended to follow ideas more than people. People die or they don’t get elected or whatever, but the ideas live on. Let’s not stop fighting for the ideas, okay?

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My Bernie bumper sticker.