As I grew older, like most college kids, I began to question these ideas and opinions about religion and politics. Attending Christian college, I had many thoughts about faith and religion that I've discussed in a previous blog, but these questions eventually got to a point where I dreaded the connection between the two and what it was doing to American culture. Living in Los Angeles and Chicago, through various life experiences, I definitely got a different perspective. Now I consider myself very much in 'Middle Earth' where I vote for who I want and watch the two sides of friends and family that I love so very much destroy each other online while I squirm and eat 'Second Breakfast.' During this great spiritual pilgramage, I voted for Bush, Obama and now Bernie and I can hear you all cringe. I cringe. It's lovely! Truly.
So it is a gross understatement to say that I have great trepidation in putting my thoughts out there to be skewered or celebrated. I have a really hard time selling something these days and have no desire to make any human candidate the second coming. Which, sidenote, is the reason I was never completely sold, like the democratic masses, on Obama. The 'hope and change' inspirational hysteria still had a bunch of slick rhetoric to me that said 'politician' not 'man of the people.' I wanted a real plan. I wanted the numbers crunched. I wanted experience. While it was incredibly exciting to see history being made with our first black president-- a well spoken, educated and charming presidential candidate at that, I was left feeling pretty 'blah' about him come voting day. All personal opinion of course. I have friends that adore the guy. And friends that hate him. (Is it time for 'Elevensies' yet!?)
But truth of the matter is, if my friend from Vermont hadn't posted on Facebook about Bernie Sanders, boldly advocating for him, I wouldn't even know about his candidacy. The media has hardly given him the time of day and when they do it is always mentioned that Hilary is the frontrunner for the Democratic Party nomination. Case in point, The LA Times ran a 'Why a Huge Crowd Turned Out For Bernie Sanders' article.
I commented on the article being shared on Facebook, the following:
"Thank you for the article LA Times. But regardless of whether Bernie votes go to Hilary later, for the primary, we're voting for Bernie. Hilary vs. Bernie? I'm registering democrat to vote for him and I've donated. You best believe I'll be there. He unites rather than divides. This is huge. The media needs to understand that."
In the three hours I have written this comment, it has gotten 867 likes. And I am just a girl that likes gardening and The Walking Dead that lives in the mountains. Yodelay-hee-hoo! Who are these other people voting for Bernie?
So here is MY introduction to Bernie Sanders to you in hopes that you will, as well, do your own research, read with discretion and eventually #FeelTheBern.
1) HE UNITES RATHER THAN DIVIDES:
Bernie is soooo not slick. I don't want to have a beer with the guy. I don't want to instagram a picture of him. He never needs to be on SNL. This is a man that I could have an actual political conversation with-- he's a work horse NOT a hair do with rhetoric painfully trying to fit in with millennials. He writes his own speeches. To me, he is the guy that stays late and probably always has coffee on his button down shirt. In my opinion, everything a politician that works for the people should be. He is an independent that has a history of bringing together both sides of the political spectrum. With the glittery hairsprayed, corporate backing of today's candidates on both sides, Bernie is just an old fart with years of experience. But the crazy kicker is that friends and family on both sides of my life are Bernie supporters. Rich, white republicans to crazy, crunchy liberals are seeing an authentic man. That is a FIRST being reported here from Middle Earth. (I may not need 'Twelvsies!)
2) VOTING RECORD AND POLICIES:
If you take a look at Bernie's voting record, it is solid. He votes for what he believes. Granted, you may not like what he votes for, but with Bernie, it is refreshing that what you hear is what you get. Forget about socialism, to me, the fact that he is unwavering in authenticity for his values is the really radical concept. He has repeatedly voted for taking care of our veterans, has a 100% rating from the NAACP on race issues and his votes on women's rights and climate change are unalterable as well. He has voted against war numerous times and in a recent article in The New York Times, he also backs Obama's Iran Deal. While the Iran Deal is terrifying, I have to stand behind a candidate that values the torment in the decision to go to war. He will always attempt peace first and use war as a last resort. I don't think that is crazy. His own words:
“The test of a great nation is not how many wars it can engage in, it is how it can resolve international conflicts in a peaceful manner. The war in Iraq, which I opposed, destabilized the entire region, helped create and expand Al Qaeda and the Islamic State and cost the lives of 6,700 brave men and women, and resulted in hundreds of thousands in our armed forces returning home with PTSD and traumatic brain injury. I fear very much that many of my Republican colleagues do not understand that war must be a last resort, not a first resort. The United States must do everything it can to make certain that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, that Israel is not threatened by a nuclear Iran and that a nuclear arms race in the region is avoided.Don't take my silly blog's word for it! For his complete voting record, click here.
President Obama and Secretary Kerry have worked through an extremely difficult and complicated process with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, Russia and of course Iran. This agreement is obviously not what many of us would have liked, but it beats the alternative: a war with Iran that could go on for years.
If Iran does not live up to the agreement, and that is a real possibility, sanctions can and will be reapplied. I think it is incumbent upon us however to give the negotiated agreement a chance to succeed. That is why I will support the agreement.”
So many politicians throw people under the bus and name call once there is a race to be won. Bernie has strictly stuck to the issues. I am not a huge Hilary fan, honestly. I read her memoir years ago and while I admire what she has accomplished as a woman, and her voice in women's rights across the world, her voting record sways with the money. To me, any authenticity that she once had has now been lost to political celebrity. (On the other hand, I have a friend that worked for her back in the day that adores her, so there ya go). Bernie has the character to talk about his own race and his own stance and not make it about tearing down another candidate. In a recent article on CNN he spoke out against criticism of Clinton as being sexist. He's doing this while running a campaign against her. I personally never feel like I see that in politics today?
You may also have heard about the controversy when #BlackLivesMatter protested two appearances he made in Seattle. Rather than take to martyrdom, venomous tweeting or name calling, he met with members of the group. He listened. As a white person of privilege I'm never going to understand how it feels to watch my brothers and sisters die for no reason by law enforcement officials or understand what it means to repeatedly get pulled over just for the color of my skin. Say what you want about the disruption of his rally but at the end of the day, it absolutely raised awareness that these candidates NEED to make race an issue. There needs to be outrage and change. As white people, we DON'T understand. And I, for one, appreciated that Bernie was open to the discussion. Again, in an authentic way. So much of race discussion in politics is for looks. Yes, his voting record is solid and he marched with MLK, blah, blah, blah, etc. But he has intense policies on race now. Not for the vote but because it's the right thing to do. I believe it takes humility to drop your ego and talk about what you don't understand.
4) DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM:
The word socialist used to scare me. It used to mean extremist leaders and revolution, followed by communism and Red Dawn and a false equality that meant standing in line in for potatoes for my freezing family members. As my political views changed, and I met people outside of the United States, I've realized there are other ways, too. Some of these are great, some are not so great. My point is... I'm open to the possibility of putting our minds together to come up with something better.
Ex: Right now we incarcerate homeless people. We treat them as criminals. There's hardly compassion there except for hand out non-profits that feed people. "They should get a fucking job" is our American way. Then a compassionate Utah decided to build homes for their homeless and is currently saving $8k in annual state expenses per homeless person. In Norway, there is such a stigma against not working, that unemployment is one of the lowest in the world and you are paid while searching for another job. Do I think a small tax on Wall Street trading is worth it to pay for free college for all? ABSOLUTELY.
There are other ways. Personally? It doesn't scare me.
NO, the Scandonavian countries and their systems aren't perfect. Neither is Utah. (Ha!) But I think this country is full of some pretty amazing brains. Maybe we could use them!? Why can't we have the wisdom to take a look at what works and what doesn't work in these countries and come up with an American Way that makes us better? It's not throwing democracy in the toilet. It's improving democracy. There's still checks and balances. I don't hear much complaining about Social Security except that its running out. Yeah, yeah, yeah... If I hate America so much I should move to Switzerland. ;)
5) GRASS ROOTS CAMPAIGN & ANTI-CORPORATIONS
Bernie has raised all of his campaign funds through small donors & labor unions. He raised over $15 million in his first quarter but the surprising fact is that the average donation was only $33.51. That would require a GREAT support of regular grassroot folks. I also love that he's not afraid to show up at places like Liberty University to campaign.
Okay, folks. I'm exhausted. That's the scoop. For the love of Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene, do your own research. Consider this an introduction. Please don't get all troll-y on this blog. Just do your own research and write your own blogs if you disagree.
In the meantime, Bernie is filling stadiums of 27,000 and my LA Times facebook comment now has 1,637 likes. Too bad Hilary's the clear front runner. ;)
Kisses & ballots,