2020- What Is This Bernie Sanders Supporter Thinking? By Kyle Leach

2020- What Is This Bernie Sanders Supporter Thinking? By Kyle Leach

It’s 2020. The New Hampshire primary is here. Time is up. Time to write. This election cycle I’ve been having a difficult time deciding how to construct my post about the New Hampshire primary. I decided to use my post from 2016 as a template and then everything seemed to fall in place.

If you know me at all you know the political world and the online space it inhabits is where I thrive. I like being able to keep track of campaigns, elections, and sitting officials from my own spaces. I enjoy going out to the digital world and seeing what supporters of Bernie, and other candidates have to say. I enjoyed my time serving on the county Dem committee several times and serving as chair of our local town Dem committee. I’m very happy how we’ve been able to change those committees to be more welcoming and focus on digital political work. It’s far from perfect, but it is a start. I don’t agree with all of them or what they are trying to do, but we have taken to heart “us not me.” That’s a very strong theme in the movement Bernie helped start.

I’ve also enjoyed becoming more involved with our local county communities in non-political ways. I’m very proud that we’ve been able to make connections with many non-voters and Indies. The Democratic Party likes to call itself a big tent, until it doesn’t. It openly courts mutli -billionaires and the power and money they bring with them, as well as super PACs, but does not do much to reach out to Indies and almost nothing to reach non-voters. Non-voters and Indies are two of the largest populations of eligible voters in our nation. They are hard to reach and often for good reasons. Bernie attracts many people from those two groups and routinely upsets and calls out billionaires and super PACs. We need much more of that if the Party is to gain strength in the future, especially, to deal effectively with Orange Ozymandias and the harm he has caused while in office.  

A pervasive narrative I’ve seen this time around, often, is the “far left” wants too much and that it takes up too much space in the Party and speaks too much out of turn. This is largely a lie. I've known many people on the "far left" in my life.  Almost none had anything to do with the Dem Party. They were politically active and community involved, but wouldn't touch the Dem Party with a twenty foot pole, for various reasons. They would not be involved in the oppressive structure or vote for many of the candidates. There is nothing there for them to support. The narrative about the far left being a part of the Dem Party is a purposeful lie constructed, by the Party itself, as a tool to manage the small numbers of lefties and indies who are in the Party and diminish the knowledge that there are other parties, activities, and movements outside the major political parties. It also helps move the Overton window further right, which helps them. It provides convenient scapegoats. Bernie is willing to help push the Overton window back toward the left. We’ll still have a center. It will just be left of the one we have now. Bernie is the only candidate willing to ask that we make that adjustment. All the others are perfectly fine with things as they are.

Many Dems, local and well beyond, seem to think that something feels different about this election cycle. They impart that we seem more fragmented, more hostile to one another. This election cycle is no more caustic than the one between Clinton and Obama. It was noted at the time as being absolutely awful. People simply forget. I think they want to forget because it makes it easier for them to live with themselves. They’ve also started to get out of their bubbles, by going online and adding legions of people to follow and discovering people can be acidic, vile, liars, and largely self-absorbed. If they’ve recently become involved in politics or started to pay attention, they’ve learned large portions of the population are racist, xenophobic, sexist, anti- Semitic, ant- Islamic, homophobic, and transphobic as is the structure our society is built on. This isn’t new. It isn’t news. People from marginalized groups have been screaming, and I do mean SCREAMING, for centuries for our nation to look in the mirror, reckon with itself, change everything we do, so the nation can move forward. Large groups of marginalized people die every day because we refuse to make the changes. We have chosen instead to embrace white, male supremacy and put incremental window dressing on the rest of our continued transgressions. We need broad, sweeping change. We needed those changes centuries ago. The only candidate asking for broad sweeping change is Bernie Sanders. Everyone else is asking for more time, more comfort for themselves, at the expense of those who are suffering oppression.

Another part of my support for Bernie comes from knowing his work long before he became a presidential figure. I have followed his career, even though I am not a constituent. I know his history; I know his voting record. I know he is consistent. Part of my support comes from Bernie’s views being close enough to my ideological placement, though I’m much further left. I don’t expect to agree with him on everything, but I do like that he can work with broad groups of people and being known as the “Amendment King,” shows that gloriously. He has always been focused on the everyday people and he has always pressed for human rights.  He has fought very hard to reduce human suffering throughout the world. I love that he wants to curb the use of our military and take away the multimillion dollar stipend that goes to the ultra-conservative government of Israel, and wants to instead aide the Palestinian people. That major change in thought, coming from the person who would be the first Jewish person to be president of this nation, shows me he is willing to make the very hard choices our nation needs to make. No other candidate is willing to do that.

Corporate entities and concentrated wealth are the problems that we need to recognize, that we need to fix. White supremacy is an issue we need to confront. Lots of the candidates and their supporters like to talk about them as issues for thought games, but talking about them, or chastising them, isn’t going to get them to change. One of the first things people who are abused learn in counseling is to get away from their abusers.  They have to learn not to go back to their abusers.  They learn not to negotiate with those abusers. The abusers will always tell you they are sorry, and that they will change. They will pretend they will do anything for you. People are tired of being abused. People are tired of being told someone is sorry for what they are going through. People are tired of watching their futures evaporate. People are tired of watching their communities and public services degrade while having to work harder and harder, longer and longer, just to keep up, much less get ahead. People are tired of watching fellow community members being murdered on a regular basis, all around them, with almost no repercussion. Bernie has attracted so many people, from across the political spectrum and tens of millions of small donors from across the nation because he really does care and is willing to make the substantial changes he can, via executive order. The rest, our movement will need to fight with Congress to get things changed as quickly as we can. That’s on us. We have to continue to build the movement and build the pressure to change the nation. No other candidate is even trying to do that. Their plans are all about what’s expected and what can be done as things are. We don’t have time for that. Climate change has made sure of that. Having a openly sexist, white supremacist loving demagogue in the Oval office has changed the timetable forever. The time for building a different nation is now.

Bernie has always said this will be very hard. Bernie has never told any of us that he can give us anything. It all has to come from us. What he does tell us is that, with all of our help, he can try to shut down the abuse. He is telling us that with all our help he can stop our abusers from hurting us in the ways they are currently hurting us. He has told us that he has ideas for how to start fixing some of our most systemic national problems and that he wants to expand the social safety net further in order to help our most marginalized, our most at risk, people.  He is up front that some of the ideas are unconventional; some have never been tried before, some were last used after the 20th century’s Great Depression. He is also up front that opposition will be fierce. We won’t just be able to vote on voting day and then abandon the effort. He will need us to fend off the wolves. He is too nice to say this, but the wolves won’t all be from the other side of the aisle. We all will have to do the work. We will have to make the changes stick. No other candidate has been so honest about that or about how much we need sustained movements outside current structures.

We supposedly live in one of the wealthiest, most resourceful, most educated, most adventurous nations on the globe. Why is it then that we could not accomplish at least some of the things Bernie proposes? Money is really not an issue. We have plenty of it. It is simply concentrated in places where it cannot help our people, where it cannot be used to reinvigorate our society. Much of what Bernie’s movement has proposed has worked in other nations in the world. Why do you think we could not examine things they have done and scale them to our own nation?  If he has the support of enough people to elect him to office, we can change the flow of money in this country.  We can enhance and enforce much needed regulations.  We can diminish the improper influence that corporations, and those with unusually large wealth, have on our government.  Bernie isn’t being bought; he is one of the few who is not. 

I think the problem is not that Bernie’s supporters create, think, dream, and hope too much.   I think the problem is that those that do not support him, might do too little creating, thinking, dreaming, and hoping.  One day, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked when we would have enough women on the highest court. She answered by saying when it had nine, without a blink. I smile every time I think of that. That’s how I look at moving toward our future. That’s how I think of our movement. We focus on the things we want. We go to the table with those ideas. Going to the table already sacrificing, weakens your position and makes for certain you will not get anything near what you wanted.  You have to dream big, and think big, if you are ever to get close to what you want. It is not that I can’t imagine some of the other candidates as president. I can. None would protect the nation from corporate interests, corporate corruption, and the whims of the extremely wealthy as Bernie would. None has a vision as vast or bold.

I know it is frightening to think of doing something new, and untested. You won’t be alone in those thoughts and feelings. Don’t you think our nation, our people, our world, deserve a chance? We can’t afford to wait for change any longer. The world our grandchildren will live in will be a very different place even if we start making the necessary changes now. It will take decades to transform our nation to an economic model that helps the majority of our people instead of the small minority of people it does now. It will take more than a century to replace the racist, xenophobic, sexist, anti- Semitic, ant- Islamic, homophobic, and transphobic systems of our nation. We have to make that happen now. Don’t you think it is worth trying? I think it is. I urge you to please vote for Bernie and our movement in the primary. Join our movement. Join us!

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