A lot of my Facebook friends were Bernie fans back in the early 80’s. We attended what was (arguably) the most progressive college in the country, just an hour outside of Burlington Vermont, where Bernie served as Mayor. I don’t think that there is one of us who has not lived a life committed to social justice.
We occupied Senator Stafford’s office when he refused to meet with his constituents about his support of Reagan policies in Central America that were in violation of both US policy and international law. We got a jury trial, and used the necessity defense, exposing the realities before the break of Iran Contra.
We sat in meetings with legends like David Dellinger, of the Chicago 7, and celebrated anarchist Murray Bookchin. (Loved David. Thought Murray was a sexist bully, in spite of his enlightening writings.)
We were dissenting voices during the Reagan years. This was not an era of progressive activism.
Then we scattered across the globe, and reconnected decades later on Facebook.
A lot of teachers among us. Early childhood education. Adjunct professors with varying areas of expertise. Entrepreneurs. Social workers. Folks working in various non profits and in the mental health field. Writers and artists. I spent 30 years working with immigrants, refugees and displaced people.
We’re middle aged folks now. Many of us are becoming empty nesters. (I am the exception with a 10 year old.)
And we were so god-damned excited to see the millennials mobilize around the quirky fringe politician that we had loved and followed for so many decades.
The last time masses of young people mobilized around politics was in the era that preceded ours. The Civil Rights movement, the anti-war, anti-establishment hippies.
We were never part of a mass movement. We were always the dissident minority. This was the first time that so many young people were becoming activists. And by some chance of fate, you rallied around the man who inspired us when we were your age!
And progressives of all ages started coming out of the woodwork. We found people in our age group who were not Goddardites, but who were equally committed to social justice. We saw members of the hippie generation become active. Gen Xers. People were talking about the big issues. Income inequality. Global warming. Access to education and healthcare. So many worked so hard for Bernie. Dedicated the better part to a year of your life to his cause. You are heroes, who have changed the fabric of our nation.
As we approach the final weeks before the election, I think I can speak for those of us who have loved Bernie since the 80’s when I say we are terrified of Trump.
Some of us will be writing in Bernie’s name, while some will be voting for Stein. Some I suspect, will be staying home on election day.
But a lot of us will be voting for Clinton. With varying degrees of enthusiasm. I don’t think that there is one of us who would not have preferred Bernie.
This is by far the most personal and self-indulgent post I have ever written for this site. And there are a few things I would really like to get off my chest.
To my friends and fellow progressives who are voting for Stein or staying home, if you live in NY or California or Vermont or a state that doesn’t really matter, ok. Do what you must. To those of you who live in Florida or Pennsylvania or Colorado or Virginia or the other swing states, oh, I wish I could persuade you. Trump is too dangerous. There is too much at stake.
No. I am not a “Hilbot.” I am not a false progressive. I am not a sell-out. I am someone who is in this battle for the short-run, and for the long-run. I am someone who wants my daughter to have legal control of her body. I am someone who cares for the well-being of the tens of thousands of immigrant New Yorkers who I have served, many of whom will have their lives disrupted by a Trump presidency. Their families dismantled. Or worse. I am someone who cares about the planet. Who cares about the quality of education, and access to education. I am angry about corporate greed. Institutionalized racism. Decaying infrastructure. Slashed budgets that have destroyed scientific advancement, increased childhood hunger, and reduced oversight on everything from food safety to safe work conditions for laborers. I am furious that 47% of those incarcerated in this country are there for minor drug offenses, and that none of them are there for the deceptive practices that led to the collapse of the housing market in which so many Americans lost their homes. I am angry that private prisons have lobbied Congress to ensure that prisons are full of young men of color and immigrants seeking a better life.
These are the things we should all care about. But this divide in the progressive community threatens us more than the ambivalence of previous generations. And I would like to speak directly to some of the Bernie or Busters / #NeverHillary folks out there.
Because some of you scare the shit out of me.
Let’s talk about some facts.
- Bernie did not sell out.Bernie has long been both radical and pragmatic. He managed to get the Democratic Party to embrace the most progressive agenda in history. It is up to us to make sure that agenda is implemented.
- Bernie was not beaten up at the DNC. Jane’s life was not threatened by Hillary thugs. Bernie endorsed Hillary because he believes that at least some of that stuff that he got on the Democratic Platform will actually be instituted by Hillary. Because he has been in politics a LONG TIME, and he knows that changes are incremental. Because there is nothing that terrifies him more than the idea that his legacy will be that of the political spoiler whose candidacy ended up in a Trump presidency. Please listen to Bernie’s own words on this.
- A Trump Presidency will not lead to a mass uprising and then a bloodless revolution and subsequent utopian government. I don’t even know what to say to you people. A Trump Presidency will lead to a tyrannical executive orders that will impact on the lives of almost every human being in this nation. A Trump Presidency will leave a legacy in the Supreme Court that will impact on the lives of the grandchildren of the millennials. I could go on. But I won’t.
- TPP is not the most serious issue facing the nation right now. Who the hell are you people who are voting for Trump because all you ever really cared about was TPP? I don’t like TPP. And Bernie and his supporters managed to push Hillary away from supporting it. Celebrate.
- Bernie’s Revolution isn’t over. Unless we abandon it. Unless we start cannibalizing each other. Unless Trump gets elected. Let’s lick our wounds and move forward. There is a lot of work to do.
Here are some other pieces that may be of interest to progressive readers who want to move forward.