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?!!”
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?
Karen Molenaar Terrell