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
“(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. )