Feelin’ the Bern

bernie-sandersI’ll say this right up front: this blog post is about why I’m supporting Bernie Sanders in the presidential election–and you’re probably not going to learn much of anything new.

As a journalist, I’ve been trained to include important, educational info in my material. And I predict that this post probably won’t contain much of that. I won’t pretend to dazzle you with insights about Bernie’s policies. I won’t spout statistics about voter demographics. (Well, probably not.) And I damn sure won’t trash his opponents, whether they’re of the Red or Blue variety.

No. What I will say is this: Bernie Sanders is the first politician in a long time—correction: probably the first one ever—whom I feel like I can trust.

“How can you trust a politician?” you might be asking while you try not to laugh. Here’s the first reason why: no cheap shots. I’ve watched umpteen TV spots during which the interviewer attempts to goad Bernie into talking smack about Hillary, or Trump (or any of the others in the Republican clown car), or…who’s that other Democratic guy? (I forget his name, but I know it always makes me think of a candy bar.) And though he’s not always successful, in every interview Bernie tries to take the high road by saying something to the effect of, “I won’t speak ill of my opponents. I’d like to talk about the issues instead.” Major score.

But more than that: Bernie Sanders actually has me—and millions of others, from what I understand—caring about politics in the first place. I have a confession to make: I’ve never voted in a presidential election. Oh, I’ve lied and said I did, and I’ve talked the barstool politics with the best of them. But inside, I’ve always had “my-one-vote-won’t-make-a-difference-itis,” to coin a phrase. So I’ve never been to my local precinct on Election Day.

Bernie’s arrival upon the political scene has changed all that. Not only am I vocal about my support for him, I’ve actually made financial contributions (small ones, mind you) to his campaign. And I’ve done it more than once. And I’m not alone. According to the Washington Post—and okay, sorry for the supporting statistics, but here goes—as of December 16, Bernie had over two million donations, with the contributions averaging less than $30 apiece.

Here’s what that tells me: that people like me (who, between my Social Security Disability and the few bucks I get from my freelance writing, earns about $14,000 per year) are willing to help The Bern. And to me, it’s those people who best represent the American Dream. Whether you agree with that or not, it’s what I believe. Part of the American Dream is having the opportunity to better your life. And I wholeheartedly believe President Bernie Sanders will be our best option for making that happen.

I can’t avoid the cliché: Bernie Sanders is a Man of the People. “Aw shit! He’s a Socialist!” some say. “Ruuuun!” Two things I’ll say about that: one, this ain’t the 1950s any more, guy. The Cold War has been over for decades. And two: if you haven’t already, Google “Democratic Socialism.” Go on, I dare ya. (I have. Multiple times.) Listen: one of the basic tenets of the movement is the belief that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not just to make profits for a few. And that’s the idea upon which Bernie’s campaign is based: sharing. (C’mon, say it with me: “Sheeehhh-riiinnng.”) Not giving handouts, but sharing. There’s enough to go around in this country, is there not? So what’s so wrong with everybody having enough to make them happy? “Pursuit of happiness,” right?

I probably haven’t swayed many folks in their political beliefs here, but that’s okay. That wasn’t my intention with this piece. And I know I’ve only covered the relative tip of the iceberg regarding actual issues. But I know that I support Bernie Sanders because he gives me hope. Hope that our country will continue to be the greatest in the world. Hope that we as citizens can use the democratic process the way the Founding Fathers intended. And the hope that we can all remember to share.