The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book,

My Bernie Journey – A Behind the Scenes Look at the 2016 “Democratic” Primary

The book will be released on August 28.

I have been working on it for over a year and I really believe that it is an accurate portrayal of the disenfranchisement that Sanders and his supporters faced at the hands of the Democratic Party.

It’s a good read, full of the anger, sadness and euphoria that we all experienced as part of Sanders’ historic campaign.

This chapter was a lot of fun to write and I feel strongly that I must use my ability with language to not just deliver the facts, but also to paint elaborate pictures that inspire my readers to continue to take action.

I sincerely hope you find something that you can relate to in my ramblings.

After you finish reading the chapter, scroll down and there will be instructions on how you can obtain a copy of the book at no charge.

There is also an opportunity to be part of the team that gets the book to press.

Lastly, we are about to embark on a 22 city tour, where we will be meeting with amazing revolutionaries whose lives have been forever changed by this movement.

While we are on the road we will be shooting footage that we will be using in a companion documentary.

We feel strongly that these stories must be told so that we can continue our Progressive movement and be all the wiser as we go forward.

You can be part of this road-trip by clicking HERE and then clicking the follow button.

I sincerely promise to do everything in my power to promote this book to anyone and everyone who may help further the truth about the travesty that occurred against our movement during the 2016 “Democratic” Primary as well as to help inspire our path forward.

Please feel free to share this post with anyone whom you think may be interested in this project.

Without further ado, here’s the chapter.

Thank you for taking the time to read and participate.

ballots

Chapter 11 – District 5

Our hero and his merry band of misfits go deep into rural Indiana to practice the psychology of paradigm shifting on unsuspecting red-staters who really “love the Second Amendment”

The Bernie Sanders volunteer group I joined in Indiana was small but active. Our number one goal was just to get Bernie’s name out there and to familiarize people with his policies. We’d meet up for planning about every two weeks. It sounds crazy, but a lot of what we would do is just make up signs, put on colorful clothing and go to a busy intersection and smile and wave at people.

These tactics actually worked. People had no idea who Bernie Sanders was and seeing a bunch of people smiling and waving got people to stop and ask. Sanders’ policy position were far superior than any other candidate and his volunteers were incredibly enthused about his candidacy, so once people stopped to talk with us, they were sold on voting for him. I often forget that the average American doesn’t even know what a primary is and they certainly don’t know that they have to vote twice in a Presidential election. Most people don’t even start paying attention until a few weeks before the general election so getting people to show up and vote in a primary that was still six months away was kind of daunting, but we must have done a good job, because Bernie won Indiana, despite the Democratic establishment here pretending like we didn’t even exist.

We were rogue agents, operating in coffee houses, planning strategies to take the state from Hillary Clinton. We knew we had our work cut out for us, so we started working months in advance of our primary. Our team was small, but mighty. The people I worked with on the Indiana campaign are some of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. I am still friends with many of them as I write this. Aaron, Greg, Julie and Phil always wore huge smiles and did amazing work organizing our group. None of them ever sought personal credit. They were completely selfless and inspiring. I never quite knew what I would be doing from one moment to the next, but I trusted them to always give me a job that used my abilities. We hosted phone-banking sessions and debate parties. We opened our home for Sanders’ volunteers from all over the state to come celebrate and learn new campaigning techniques. Soon I was teaching impromptu canvassing classes in our living room. I would tell people techniques that I had picked up at canvassing centers around the country (we didn’t have a campaign office in Indiana yet) and they would use these techniques to talk with friends and neighbors.

Pitching a Democratic Socialist in Indiana was not for the feint of heart. This is a state where Donald Trump received three times as many votes as did Bernie and Hillary during the primaries. But by far the greatest challenge we faced was simply getting Bernie Sanders name on the ballot so people could actually vote for him.

One Wednesday I received a text from my friend, Philip Sanders, telling me that there was a meeting that evening. I had a mountain of Bernie work on my desk (I had become a Bernie Sanders blogger and social media promoter in my off hours and this gradually began to eat away most of my time) and the last thing I wanted to do was stop my Bernie-work to go to ANOTHER Bernie meeting, but Philip informed me that someone from the national campaign would be there and that they needed all hands on deck.

At first I thought that our Indy4Bernie group had grown tremendously, but soon came to realize that I was sitting in a room will all of the Bernie groups from the entire state. The national guy began to speak and I kept dozing off. It was completely involuntary. I just could not keep my eyes open. The subject of the meeting was to alert us that there was a major problem with one of the districts that we had to collect signatures in. Apparently in order for Bernie to even appear on the primary ballot and be eligible for voting we had to collect 500 registered voter signatures per district. I had never worked on a Presidential campaign before so this was all new to me.

The reason why there were so many people at our meeting was because the signature collectors from all over the state had come to turn in their signatures. But there was a major problem. District 5 didn’t have their signatures and the deadline for turning them in was fast approaching. Not only did they not have the signatures, but the people who were in charge of collecting them had quit in exasperation, saying that they had been harassed and threatened. They had collected less than 10 signatures.

I snapped from my sleep and raised my hand. “So if we don’t get these 500 signatures in the next few weeks, Bernie’s name won’t even be on the Indiana ballot?” I asked.

“That’s correct.” the national guy informed me.

A man in a suit stood up and said “This district is particularly problematic. It’s a wealthy, all rural Republican area. There is lots of space between the houses and they don’t take kindly to Democrats and they like Socialists even less. Unfortunately they have been informed of our presence and have made a concerted effort to keep us out. We are not allowed on any business properties. In fact some of the local police have threatened to arrest us if we trespass on business property and many of the houses have put up No Trespassing signs. This area is extremely difficult and no one wants to be harassed. Everyone we have put on it has quit.”

“Does Hillary have her signatures from District 5?” I asked.

“Hillary has hundreds of paid workers. Plus she also has the help of the local Democratic Party. So, yes. She is already on the ballot.”

“Oh and there’s something else you should probably know.” the man in the suit said “The county clerk there doesn’t want a Democratic Socialist on the ballot so they will disqualify any signature that isn’t legible and they will disqualify anyone who has moved their residence in the last year and they will look for reasons to disqualify Bernie’s name, so our solution to this is to get three signatures for every one we need, so we need 1500 signatures, so who wants to be in charge of District 5?”

With this he held the clipboard high above his head.

The room went still. As I sat there, hoping, waiting for someone to take charge, I looked at District 5 on the map. It was far away from my home and I had been through there before and on several occasions had been harassed by the police there. The Hamilton County police are legendary in Indiana. They will pretty much harass you just for being from out of town. I could tell you stories about my experiences with them that I probably wouldn’t believe myself if I hadn’t been through them. There was no part of me that wanted to go to District 5 and be harassed and more than likely arrested.

No one raised their hand.

The national guy said “Look, if we don’t get these signatures then Bernie doesn’t win Indiana and it will be really difficult to compete against Clinton if we concede a state before the primaries even begin.”

I raised my hand.

Oh my god!! What had I done?!

I felt sick to my stomach as they explained to me what I would be doing. Honestly this whole campaign was stretching me way past my comfort zone. I was already inundated with so much volunteer work that my business had taken a back seat and I was having a hard time paying my bills. Now I was going back to a place where police had harassed me on multiple occasions. I was absolutely horrified. This would become the central theme in my life over the next year thanks to Bernie Sanders and his amazing campaign.

My fear was quickly cut in half when Cherish Foreman-Davis approached me. We had never met, but she informed me that she lived in that district and would love to help with signature collection. She told me that there was an election coming up that Tuesday in district 5 and that it would be illegal to kick us off the property as it was state owned. The only rule that they could enforce is that we had to stay 50 feet from the entrance.

We put out a call on social media in hopes of finding others to help us with this urgent and pressing matter. One lady, Holly Davis, agreed to meet with us and I also brought my daughter, Chloe, along to help.

We started in, smiling and asking for signatures, but we were met with avoidance and hostility.

“I vote Republican.” a man said to Chloe.

“I don’t vote for communists.” a lady told me.

Several people told us that we shouldn’t be there and that we were violating people’s rights by harassing them when they were trying to vote.

One man who held a high public office came up to me with a group of men and introduced himself directly to me, ignoring the female volunteers. He said

“I love The Constitution and my FAVORITE part of The Constitution is the Second Amendment. Do you get my drift?”

I am pretty sure that he was threatening me, but I simply replied

“I love The Constitution as well and The Constitution says that ALL people have the right to participate in Democracy, so I’m sure you want to sign our ballot initiative.”

He replied “Hell no, I’m not signing that and no one else is going to either. I’ll make sure of that.” and then he and his entourage started greeting voters and pointing at us. People just stormed by us and as we started to speak they would either ignore us completely or say something hateful and continue walking. One man started screaming at us and then one of the “Second Amendment lovers” said that he was going to call the police because we were causing a disturbance.

This was not working out. It was easy to see why the other District 5 volunteers had quit. This was more than frustrating. This was bordering on dangerous.

I wanted the men to believe that we were giving up so I huddled our group off to the side and waited for the men to leave. I told our group that we needed to change up our plan.

“I think I know something that these people hate more than Socialism.” I said “Here’s our new line. ‘Hi! Do you have 30 seconds to help keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House?’”

This changed everything!!

“Hi!! Do you have 30 seconds to help keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House?” was met almost every time with a hardy laugh and the reply “Well I’ve got all day for that.”

I taught the group that the follow up line was “I know we might differ on some issues, but one of the things I respect most about Republicans is that they believe in Democracy. By signing here you guarantee that Hillary has competition and doesn’t just have the White House handed to her. Let’s work together to make Hillary’s life as difficult as possible.”

Most people would say “I don’t like Socialism, but I agree with you that everyone deserves a chance to run for office and anything that hurts Hillary Clinton is okay by me.”

And they signed…

And they signed..

And they signed.

One thing that really helped us was when the county chair, a young Republican girl, came up to me and said “I don’t agree with your politics, but I admire you for standing out here. I can’t imagine that people have been very welcoming.”

I liked talking with her. We came at everything from opposite viewpoints, which usually makes for interesting conversation, but I also had an ulterior motive. I knew that as long as she was speaking with me, voters would see this and this would give us more credibility. She really liked me as well and kept introducing me to voters as her “Bernie friend”. People looked at her like she should blink twice if she was being held hostage, but they signed, simply because she endorsed us.

Hundreds of people signed!!

Our team stood out there all day and we gathered signatures, but Cherish did not stop there. She continued to push day after day to get the 1500 signatures required. I helped, but Cherish was the real powerhouse. One day I was going from business to business and each time I would go in the shop owner would say “We already kicked the one girl out of here and told her we would call the police if she came back.” Cherish had already been kicked out of every business in District 5. This was inspiring. This was revolutionary. We were not simply signature collectors. We were insurgents, behind enemy lines, facing arrest and bodily harm. The more they resisted the more we persisted.

I remember one signature very clearly. I had been standing out on the street, during an intense snowstorm holding a sign that said

“IF YOU CARE ABOUT DEMOCRACY PLEASE SIGN!!”

No one was stopping their cars. I was cold and feeling ridiculous. Honestly I began to doubt that we were ever going to get the signatures. It felt like the whole town was against us (because in fact they WERE against us). As I lost feeling in my hands, I went inside one of the businesses to order coffee. I sat there drinking coffee with my sign and my clipboard on the table.

A police officer walked up to me.

“What are you wanting me to sign?”

I saw his badge clipped to his belt and replied

“Believe me, you don’t want to sign this. It’s a petition to allow Bernie Sanders to be on the ballot against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primaries.”

At this point a teenage boy came around the corner and said

“Bernie Sanders is awesome, Dad! You should sign it!”

I said nothing. The man and his son sat down at the table with me and ate their food and talked about Socialism. The kid kept saying “But that’s not what Bernie stands for…” and then would go on to straighten his father out on Bernie’s platform. To Dad’s credit, he listened and then he said to me

“Is it okay if I sign it?”

I only got one signature that day, but I needed it so badly. It inspired me to continue to work and it reminded me that you can’t prejudge people. And thanks to the work of Cherish and Holly, we got the signatures required to get Bernie on the ballot here in Indiana.

The county clerk begrudgingly signed off on the signatures and Bernie went on to win Indiana along with 21 other states. Being part of that was one of the greatest accomplishments of my entire life.

I will forever be grateful that I got to be part of such a determined team. The entire town tried to stop us, but in the end our commitment to Bernie was stronger than their will to stop us.

Bernie Sanders made it onto the ballot.

And Bernie Sanders won Indiana.

THAT’S THE CHAPTER – I REALLY HOPE YOU ENJOYED IT!! THERE ARE MANY MORE EXCITING CHAPTERS IN THE FULL VERSION OF THE BOOK. 

berniebook

HERE ARE ALL THE DETAILS YOU NEED IN ONE EASY TO UNDERSTAND VIDEO (<—-CLICK HERE)

The video is kind of long.

 There was a lot I wanted to fit in.

Here are the bullet points.

If you want an electronic copy of the book, I’ll send you one out absolutely free

Just send an email to

 GoBernieGoBernieGo@gmail.com

 And I’ll get an electronic copy sent out to you as soon as it goes to press on August 28.

 If anyone wants to contribute to the publishing costs, they can do so by clicking the link below.

 DONATIONS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO RECEIVE THE BOOK!!

 There is also an exciting bonus program for founding members.

 Anyone who donates $27 or more will be part of The 27 Buck Club.

 Those people receive a physical copy of the book, shipped to their home, along with a second book, The Independent Thinker Chronicles.

 The Independent Thinker Chronicles is a compilation of articles I wrote while on the road with the campaign.

 In addition, anyone in The 27 Buck Club gets their name credited inside the book for being an integral part of getting the book to press.

 If joining The 27 Buck Club, please be sure to include the address of where your books are to be shipped.

 If no one donates I’ll foot the entire bill for the publishing and I’LL STILL SEND OUT THE FREE COPIES!!

If the crowdfunding is successful and there is any money left over after paying the publishing costs, these proceeds go to pay Ari’s schooling (see video for details).

 I wanted to structure this where everyone could get the book without paying for it.

But I also wanted to structure it where there was freedom to participate for those who wanted to and I wanted to reward those people with something exciting.

 This is my first time doing crowdfunding and also my first time self-publishing so I hope I did a good job with the structure.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this chapter and I really look forward to getting the book to you.

I’ve spent so much time trying to make it amazing.

I sincerely believe that it is a book that needed to be written and I’m honored to be able to be part of such an incredible movement.

Your friend in Revolution,

Michael E Sparks

minibernie

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book,

My Bernie Journey – A Behind the Scenes Look at the 2016 Democratic Primary

The book will be released on August 28.

I have been working on it for over a year and I really believe that it is an accurate portrayal of the disenfranchisement that Sanders and his supporters faced at the hands of the Democratic Party.

It’s a good read, full of the anger, sadness and euphoria that we all experienced as part of Sanders’ historic campaign.

This particular chapter is less fact-based than some of the other chapters and is more about the emotions that fueled the campaign and why the movement has continued on at a grassroots level, despite the chicanery that undemocratically halted Sanders’ presidential run.

This chapter was a lot of fun to write and I feel strongly that I must use my ability with language to not just deliver the facts, but also to paint elaborate pictures that inspire my readers to continue to take action.

I sincerely hope you find something that you can relate to in my ramblings.

After you finish reading the chapter, scroll down and there will be instructions on how you can obtain a copy of the book at no charge.

There is also an opportunity to be part of the team that gets the book to press.

Lastly, we are about to embark on a 22 city tour, where we will be meeting with amazing revolutionaries whose lives have been forever changed by this movement.

While we are on the road we will be shooting footage that we will be using in a companion documentary.

We feel strongly that these stories must be told so that we can continue our Progressive movement and be all the wiser as we go forward.

You can be part of this road-trip by clicking HERE and then clicking the follow button.

I sincerely promise to do everything in my power to promote this book to anyone and everyone who may help further the truth about the travesty that occurred against our movement during the 2016 “Democratic” Primary as well as to help inspire our path forward.

Please feel free to share this post with anyone whom you think may be interested in this project.

Without further ado, here’s the chapter.

Thank you for taking the time to read and participate.

berniegirl

Chapter 17 – You Bernie People Are Being Ridiculous

Because of my love for Bernie Sanders and the movement he stands for, I lost a lot of friends.

I could see what my friends were seeing. I totally got it. Michael, their friend who was always kind of right there on the verge of insanity, had finally slipped over the edge. They always thought it would be drugs or alcohol that would finally drag me out past the frayed ends of madness and dump me into the great abyss, where my heroes all hung their hats. Instead it ended up being Bernie Freaking Sanders that had pushed their compadre past the brink.

I know my friends resented Bernie. They resented him for stealing away my time and energy. They resented him for being the only thing I ever talked about. In short, they resented him for stealing their friend.

My friends talked with one another. Interventions were planned, but ultimately quashed due to the fact that no one thought it would do any good whatsoever.

Michael had lost his mind and there was nothing they could do about it.

Truthfully, I had never been sane, not by their definition anyway. I had always been hanging around in the shadows, trying to figure out how to throw a wrench into the machine.

When I was 11, I used my Commodore 64 to hack into my school computer, just so I could change my grades, even though I knew I already had straight A’s. When I was 15 I formed a punk band with plans to inform the world that the system was broken and that anarchy was the only solution. Before Sanders, I had been reduced to finding legal ways to rip off corporations in order to feel like I was doing something to stem the tide of corporate injustice. I was small-time, but my sedition kept me sane.

I was Tyler Durden selling cellulite back to suburban women in the form of boutique soap. I was a dejected rebel, a down and out subversive, a wannabe revolutionary. Had Sanders not come along, I would have probably fallen into extreme couponing in my desperate attempt to bring corporations to their knees. I was a flea on a flea on a flea on the back of global commerce.

Some live off scraps. I lived off the scraps that fell from scraps.

As far as my government and the corporations that own it were concerned, I was a nobody.

The crown jewel in my anti-authoritarianism, I found a flaw in Blockbuster’s video game trade in policy and exploited it so severely that I was banned from their stores. I did nothing wrong. They did their math incorrectly. I made $8500 in three weeks and when they banned me, I wrote a blog explaining to tens of thousands of others how to exploit their system. When I saw their stores going out of business, I smiled, thinking that I had been a microscopic part of this event.

Damn the man.

Fuck the police.

Some men just want to watch the world burn.

I’ve always loathed this wicked machine. I was always crazy. I just needed a vehicle for my mayhem.

Some dude from Vermont wants to destroy the system and rebuild it in his image?

Sign me up!

Let’s break shit!

Crazy isn’t really the problem. Crazy is the solution. When born into a country where one’s value is measured by the amount of capital that one can create for themselves by coming up with ways to take assets from the vulnerable, then the only sane path is to be crazy.

So when people tell me that Bernie Sanders supporters are crazy, I know they are just buying into the corporate media narrative designed to discredit our incredibly powerful movement. I am encouraged by this insult, for it would not be necessary to create such lies if we weren’t a threat to the establishment.

And to be fair, Sanders supporters are crazy.

We are crazy enough to believe that compassion is more important than Capitalism. We are crazy enough to believe that people are more important than profits. And we are crazy enough to believe that “when millions of people stand together” they can take control of their government from greedy billionaires who literally seek to enslave humanity.

Bernie Sanders was speaking my language. When Bernie stood up and said “We need a political revolution in this country.” I was like “Dude, you had me at ‘we’.”

My friends thought I was crazy and I thought they were asleep. These friendships were destined to end. I simply do not have time to wake people up when they are willfully participating in their own slumber. Why waste the time when there are others who want to be awakened and will wake up swinging? Me and my new friends were ringing our bells from town to town. We were waking people up. We were finding all the crazy people. We were building an army.

So when you make comments about how crazy Bernie Sanders people are, what you are really doing is revealing something about yourself. What you are really saying is that things are “just fine” and I’m sorry, my dear friend, but things are not “just fine” and they haven’t been, well, ever really.

Me and my crazy friends want to make sure that every single person on this planet has food, shelter and medicine. Me and my crazy friends believe that we can use technology in ways that can bring about a genuine world peace. Me and my crazy friends look at the evil in the world, push through our sadness and anger and reload our ambition to fight for things both great and small. We take in the abandoned and destitute. We hang rainbow flags in our windows to let the lost know that they will be safe with us. We make sack lunches and take them to those who seek shelter in bridges, benches and alleys. We keep trying when every single person around us has given up.

Indeed, we are crazy.

And there are MILLIONS OF US!!

And we are just crazy enough to believe that we can change the world.

THAT’S THE CHAPTER – I REALLY HOPE YOU ENJOYED IT!! THERE ARE MANY MORE EXCITING CHAPTERS IN THE FULL VERSION OF THE BOOK. 

berniebook

HERE ARE ALL THE DETAILS YOU NEED IN ONE EASY TO UNDERSTAND VIDEO (<—-CLICK HERE)

The video is kind of long.

 There was a lot I wanted to fit in.

Here are the bullet points.

If you want an electronic copy of the book, I’ll send you one out absolutely free

Just send an email to

 GoBernieGoBernieGo@gmail.com

 And I’ll get an electronic copy sent out to you as soon as it goes to press on August 28.

 If anyone wants to contribute to the publishing costs, they can do so by clicking the link below.

 DONATIONS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO RECEIVE THE BOOK!!

 There is also an exciting bonus program for founding members.

 Anyone who donates $27 or more will be part of The 27 Buck Club.

 Those people receive a physical copy of the book, shipped to their home, along with a second book, The Independent Thinker Chronicles.

 The Independent Thinker Chronicles is a compilation of articles I wrote while on the road with the campaign.

 In addition, anyone in The 27 Buck Club gets their name credited inside the book for being an integral part of getting the book to press.

 If joining The 27 Buck Club, please be sure to include the address of where your books are to be shipped.

 If no one donates I’ll foot the entire bill for the publishing and I’LL STILL SEND OUT THE FREE COPIES!!

If the crowdfunding is successful and there is any money left over after paying the publishing costs, these proceeds go to pay Ari’s schooling (see video for details).

 I wanted to structure this where everyone could get the book without paying for it.

But I also wanted to structure it where there was freedom to participate for those who wanted to and I wanted to reward those people with something exciting.

 This is my first time doing crowdfunding and also my first time self-publishing so I hope I did a good job with the structure.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this chapter and I really look forward to getting the book to you.

I’ve spent so much time trying to make it amazing.

I sincerely believe that it is a book that needed to be written and I’m honored to be able to be part of such an incredible movement.

Your friend in Revolution,

Michael E Sparks

chloebrokenarmlaugh

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book,

My Bernie Journey – A Behind the Scenes Look at the 2016 Democratic Primary

The book will be released on August 28.

I have been working on it for over a year and I really believe that it is an accurate portrayal of the disenfranchisement that Sanders and his supporters faced at the hands of the Democratic Party.

It’s a good read, full of the anger, sadness and euphoria that we all experienced as part of Sanders’ historic campaign.

This particular chapter explains the reasons why the Bernie Sanders movement was such a personal revolution for me. It’s intensely personal and I share aspects of myself that not even those closest to me are aware of.

I sincerely hope you find something that you can relate to in my ramblings.

After you finish reading the chapter, scroll down and there will be instructions on how you can obtain a copy of the book at no charge.

There is also an opportunity to be part of the team that gets the book to press.

I sincerely promise to do everything in my power to promote this book to anyone and everyone who may help further the truth about the travesty that occurred against our movement during the 2016 “Democratic” Primary.

Please feel free to share this post with anyone whom you think may be interested in this project.

Without further adieu, here’s the chapter.

rage

Chapter 16 – Raging Against the Machine (Kuh-wit It Now!!!)

I was off and running again.

Damn I was fast!

The fact that I’m alive now is a testament to how fast I was then.

John Southwood’s goons gave chase and I kicked as hard as my ten year old legs could kick. And hell yeah they could kick. As I turned the corner I used my peripheral vision to see that the entire gang had given up chasing me, except for Kyle. Peripheral vision was important. There was always somebody coming after me back then and I needed to be able to see what was coming. And in this case the ability to see without turning my head may have shaved a half second off my sprint and that half second could have been the difference between making it home to relative safety or getting my face bashed in by Kyle Vandebrock.

Kyle was 15 and two feet taller than me. For everyone of Kyle’s strides, I had to take two. I was three blocks from my house. My brain started trying to do math to figure the odds, but I told it to shut up. Doing math could only slow me down. Kyle was closing fast, but not fast enough.

I made it to my front yard.

There’s some sort of kid rule that says that if you make it to your own yard then you are safe and bullies can no longer bother you. So I slowed up and began to walk leisurely towards my front door. If I came in running my mom or her boyfriend would have noticed me. It was never a good idea to be noticed in my house.

Kyle stopped at the edge of the yard and said between gasps

“Why are you running? I just wanted to talk to you?”

His tone was completely disarming. I remember thinking that he looked like a really nice guy standing there and for a moment I wondered why I had been running from him.

I walked to the edge of the yard and said

“What do you want to talk about?”

Kyle swung his lanky right arm towards me. I remember it seemed like it took forever to arrive. Perhaps I have added this part to the memory, but I recall seeing Kyle’s fist eclipsing the sun as it majestically hovered over the treeline behind him. The adult-me wants to tell Kyle to keep his punches compact and to remember to always keep his guard up. A huge sweeping roundhouse punch like this, in a street-fight, will get you punched directly in the face with a jab, followed by a right-cross. Kyle was leading with a hay-maker that traveled through several time zones to reach its destination.

“Now boarding Kyle’s fist to Michael’s stomach! Please present your tickets! All aboard the pain express! Next stop Extreme Abdominal Pain!”

Kyle’s fist landed squarely on my malnourished frame and took the wind completely out of me. As I fell to the ground, Kyle hovered above, blocking out the sun. I remember he looked reluctant, almost compassionate, like a man just doing his job, going through the motions, taking no joy in his role as Southwood’s henchman.

While I lay there writhing in pain, Kyle said

“And this is for making me chase you.” and then he brought his size 13 Converse All-Star crashing down on my ribs.

As Kyle walked away, I saw him meet up with Southwood and his gang. I saw him gesture to them that the job had been completed. High-fives were exchanged and cigarettes lit. Another hard day at the factory. Soon the sun would set, we’d all sleep and then we’d have to report to work again. Me with my job as whipping boy, they as the neighborhood bullies. My bruised ribs would buy me no sanctuary tomorrow. A new school-day meant we all hit the reset button.

You might be wondering what the impetus behind these daily beatings was. I can answer it simply by saying that my family was poor. Looking back, I realized that John Southwood and his gang were also poor. But they weren’t poor like we were poor. They could afford luxuries like cigarettes and beer. And their clothes seemed to fit okay, whereas mine were hand-me-downs from my cousins, who were younger than me.

Once a year my Aunt would drop off several trash bags full of clothes that her kids had outgrown and that would be my wardrobe for the next year.

My mother got angry at me for growing.

I would try to force myself into the trash-bag clothes, which were several sizes too small and my mother would see me and say something like

“If you didn’t grow so goddamned fast then your clothes would fit!!”

To my mother’s credit, she did everything she could to keep me from growing. We rarely had food in the house and when we did, eating it would usually lead to some sort of major screaming match, which more often than not lead to me getting knocked across the room.

I arrived early to school each morning to get the bowl of free corn-flakes that the school gave out to kids on the free lunch program. I didn’t realize at the time that showing up an hour before the first bell was a way to let every kid in the school know that I received free lunch. I didn’t even know what was going on. I just knew that we were poor and that the other kids hated me for that.

At lunch time there were two lines. Kids with money would go through a line where they could point to different foods they wanted. Those foods always looked so much better than the slop they would throw on our trays, which I would later learn was the exact same crap they were feeding the prisoners a few miles down the road.

There was a popular commercial at the time, for Life cereal, in which a small boy named Mikey was presented with a bowl of cereal. One of the kids would say “Mikey won’t eat it. He hates everything!” then Mikey would eat the Life cereal and the kids would scream out “He likes it!!” This somehow resulted in kids coming by and dumping their leftover food on my tray and saying

“Mikey will eat it! He eats everything!”

And everyone would laugh.

And I would eat it too, as long as it looked like they hadn’t put any trash in it. We never had dinner at our house and it was a long time between lunch and the free cereal the next morning, so I would eat as much as I could at lunch each day. The kids all got a huge kick out of watching the scrawny little poor kid eat the food they were going to throw in the trash. I guess there was something about that joke that I didn’t really understand. I never really got the punch-line on that one.

As you might expect, as an adult I developed a pretty strange eating disorder that really just amounted to me always finishing every last scrap that was on my plate, even when I was stuffed, as well as any leftover scraps on my children’s plates. I just couldn’t bear the thought of throwing food in the trash, after not having it for all those years. As you might also expect, this behavior lead me to gain a lot of weight.

But as an adult, I had the means to solve problems that were impossible to solve when I was a child.

I solved my eating disorder by getting dogs.

They get all the leftover food.

I go to the gym everyday.

But man I have some really fat dogs.

When I heard about this poor kid from Brooklyn who had spent his entire life fighting for equality, it struck a chord in me. I saw the pictures of him handcuffed and fighting against the police and I saw myself. I read the stories about him growing up in a tiny Brooklyn apartment and hearing his parents fighting over money and I related. I saw him standing on the Senate floor, still angry, yelling at the rich bastards who had kept him and his family down and something shifted in me.

This guy was just like me, but he was actually doing something about it.

Bernie Sanders woke me the fuck up and all that rage I had put on the shelf came flooding back with a vengeance. For the first time in my adult life I had a constructive outlet for my anger. I listened to every speech that Bernie had ever given and it put me in touch with something I had lost. Some of my friends said that they felt like I had joined a cult. I wondered how the hell they hadn’t joined it.

“There’s a revolution happening in America right now!!” I would tell them.

They thought I was crazy. And to be fair, I was. My well-meaning friends were probably the same kids who watched and did nothing while the rich kids dumped food on my lunch tray and laughed.

They couldn’t understand why I had such a strong reaction to this angry Senator from Vermont. They had never been truly poor a day in their lives.

They weren’t like Bernie.

They weren’t like me.

But I met a lot of people who were.

For every school cafeteria in America, there is a kid who sits alone, who doesn’t fit in, whose clothes don’t fit right. There are millions of us, but we never knew about each other before Sanders stood up. Alone, we are powerless, destined to be stomach-punched by the wealthy elite, destined to have leftover scraps heaped on our plates, while those in power laugh at the fact that we are so hungry that we must eat their waste.

We are the outcast misfits who started in the back of the line when the race began. We are brilliant and resourceful, because we’ve had to be. And when the rich kids call us “basement dwellers” we wear this title with pride. And when our friends think us crazy, we get new and better friends, because we are past the point of apologizing for our insanity and now accept fully that all truly amazing things have been accomplished by those that others dismissed as crazy.

Bernie Sanders stood up in the backyards of America and spoke to the poor and disenfranchised and every castaway, gypsy and vagabond stood up as one and raised their fists in solidarity. Soon there were so many of us that arenas could not hold us. While the rich kids grew weak and stringy from never having to fight, we grew stronger and more resourceful because fighting was all we ever did.

When someone says to me

“It’s too bad Bernie lost.”

I often say something like

“Bernie has already won. Millions of people are awake now. Bernie cannot lose, because what he stands for are a set of ideals. It is now our job to go forth and make sure those ideals come to fruition. This movement supersedes Sanders. It is the eternal battle of good versus evil, poor versus rich, The People vs The Oligarchy. This Revolution is just getting started.”

Then they look at me like I’m crazy. Because, in fact, that’s exactly what I am. But I am not alone. I have several million crazy friends.

And we are organized.

The rich kids are shaking in their $200 shoes.

THAT’S THE CHAPTER – I REALLY HOPE YOU ENJOYED IT!! THERE ARE MANY MORE EXCITING CHAPTERS IN THE FULL VERSION OF THE BOOK. 

berniebook

HERE ARE ALL THE DETAILS YOU NEED IN ONE EASY TO UNDERSTAND VIDEO (<—-CLICK HERE)

The video is kind of long.

 There was a lot I wanted to fit in.

Here are the bullet points.

If you want an electronic copy of the book, I’ll send you one out absolutely free

Just send an email to

 GoBernieGoBernieGo@gmail.com

 And I’ll get an electronic copy sent out to you as soon as it goes to press on August 28.

 If anyone wants to contribute to the publishing costs, they can do so by clicking the link below.

 DONATIONS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO RECEIVE THE BOOK!!

 There is also an exciting bonus program for founding members.

 Anyone who donates $27 or more will be part of The 27 Buck Club.

 Those people receive a physical copy of the book, shipped to their home, along with a second book, The Independent Thinker Chronicles.

 The Independent Thinker Chronicles is a compilation of articles I wrote while on the road with the campaign.

 In addition, anyone in The 27 Buck Club gets their name credited inside the book for being an integral part of getting the book to press.

 If joining The 27 Buck Club, please be sure to include the address of where your books are to be shipped.

 If no one donates I’ll foot the entire bill for the publishing and I’LL STILL SEND OUT THE FREE COPIES!!

If the crowdfunding is successful and there is any money left over after paying the publishing costs, these proceeds go to pay Ari’s schooling (see video for details).

 I wanted to structure this where everyone could get the book without paying for it.

But I also wanted to structure it where there was freedom to participate for those who wanted to and I wanted to reward those people with something exciting.

 This is my first time doing crowdfunding and also my first time self-publishing so I hope I did a good job with the structure.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this chapter and I really look forward to getting the book to you.

I’ve spent so much time trying to make it amazing.

I sincerely believe that it is a book that needed to be written and I’m honored to be able to be part of such an incredible movement.

Your friend in Revolution,

Michael E Sparks

bullhorn

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book My Bernie Journey – A Behind the Scenes Look at the 2016 Democratic Primary

The book will be released on August 28.

I have been working on it for over a year and I really believe that it is an accurate portrayal of the disenfranchisement that Sanders and his supporters faced at the hands of the Democratic Party.

It’s a good read, full of the anger, sadness and euphoria that we all experienced as part of Sanders’ historic campaign.

After you finish reading the chapter, scroll down and there will be instructions on how you can obtain a copy of the book at no charge.

There is also an opportunity to be part of the team that gets the book to press.

I sincerely promise to do everything in my power to promote this book to anyone and everyone who may help further the truth about the travesty that occurred against our movement during the 2016 “Democratic” Primary.

Please feel free to share this post with anyone whom you think may be interested in this project.

Without further ado, here’s the chapter.

1

No One Wanted to Talk About It

I’ve never been a conspiracy theorist.

This is not to say that there aren’t true conspiracy theories. As time passes and information becomes declassified we can look back through our country’s history and see that there are countless examples of our government lying to us. But I’ve always been a wait and see kind of guy. Credibility is incredibly important to me. I try to be careful what I say. If people don’t hold me as a credible source then they have no reason to trust my words and without that I’ve got nothing.

Having said all of that, there were definitely some serious shenanigans pulled by the Democratic Party in the 2016 primaries and ALL of it was carefully designed to ensure that Hillary Clinton became the Democratic nominee.

I have many good friends who became angry with Senator Sanders for not calling out the DNC for their blatant disregard of the Democratic process, but I disagree strongly with that assessment. Sanders would have sounded like a sore loser had he spoken out. The party’s corporate media arms would have crushed him.

It’s important to understand that Sanders was not welcome in the Democratic Party and the party had elaborate plans to invalidate him and his movement. In fact, some of the chicanery used against Sanders was actually designed to provoke him into speaking out, so that the Democratic Party could try to make him look like a paranoid old man. They would literally do underhanded things to Sanders and his supporters in hopes that our reaction could be used against us.

The Democratic Party was gaslighting the Sanders campaign and the media was waiting to pounce at every opportunity. Bernie was simply in a position where he could not speak out. Had Sanders taken the bait, the media would have torn him apart and Clinton would have said something like

“I find it sad that Senator Sanders doesn’t trust the American electoral process and that he clearly has some kind of disdain for the American voter.”

Bernie has been in government most of his life so he knows how the game works. He was, and still is, the uninvited guest at the dinner party. They are waiting for him to say or do something offensive, so that they can ask him to leave. But Bernie keeps smiling and complimenting the food while he tries to get us to run to the kitchen and change the recipe.

So when people say that Sanders should have called out the party for their obvious manipulation of the democratic process, what they are actually suggesting is that Bernie give up his seat at the table. There is technically nothing wrong with the table. It’s the other guests that are the problem.

We need better people at the table. And these guests are hard to move. They’ve grown fat gorging themselves at the corporate trough. To move them will take millions of people, standing together, pushing them from their thrones and into the gutter to be washed away like the corporate refuse that they are.

It’s not Bernie’s job to call them out on their malfeasance. It’s ours. If he loses his seat at the table, we all starve.

But make no mistake, there was a tremendous amount of electoral finagling on behalf of the Democratic Party during the 2016 Presidential primary.

Whether it was Bill Clinton showing up at polling places, walking through the crowd, shaking hands with people while they waited in line, in an attempt to sway their votes or the blatant rigging of the Democratic Election in Nevada by Roberta Gustave Lange, the Democratic Party was clearly working overtime to insure that Sanders and his supporters did not get a fair shake in the Democratic process.

In Nevada the convention was scheduled concurrently with the state college’s graduation day, meaning that many Sanders supporters, being of college age, had to choose between attending the convention or participating in their graduation ceremonies.

I am willing to concede that it is possible that this was just shoddy planning on the part of the Democrats in Nevada, but there were other things that occurred that make it nearly impossible for me to believe that this scheduling was an accident.

For example, knowing that Sanders supporters would be struggling to be inside the convention at the scheduled 10:00 am start time, due to graduation ceremonies, Gustave Lange made several changes to the rules at 9:30 AM, when she undoubtedly hoped the convention would be predominantly made up of Clinton supporters.

Lange was wrong.

Even thirty minutes before the convention actually began, Sanders delegates outnumbered Clinton delegates and voted down the rule changes. Lange changed the rules anyway and then proceeded to tally the number of total delegates for each candidate. When it was discovered that Sanders had won the convention by having over 1700 delegates present (so much for scheduling the convention on graduation day) then the DNC began to systematically eliminate Sanders delegates with no explanation given.

Once 64 Sanders delegates were disqualified, there was a recount and Clinton was declared the winner. The Nevada Democratic Convention was overwhelmingly in favor of Bernie Sanders, but when those disenfranchised by corruption tried to speak out, a wall of police came forth and the Sanders’ supporters were threatened with arrest if they did not disperse.

From behind the wall of police, Hillary Clinton’s friend and relative, Senator Barbara Boxer, attempted to provoke a violent response from the disenfranchised Sanders delegates by verbally taunting them and making an obscene gesture.

There was an internet rumor that Boxer flipped her middle finger at the Sanders delegates, but in actuality Boxer, a native of Brooklyn, raised her index finger in an “up yours” fashion. Which finger Boxer raised is wholly beside the point. The intention is absolutely the same. An elected official has no business rubbing salt in the wounds of the disenfranchised. No image more clearly defines the shattered relationship that the Democratic Party has with The People than the image of Boxer blatantly mocking the Sanders delegates from behind a wall of police. This single action wholeheartedly symbolizes the party’s entire “let them eat cake” attitude towards the American people.

As Boxer screamed from the stage for the Sanders delegates to shut up and accept that their voice was being stolen from them, one justifiably angry man raised a chair above his head for a moment and THIS was all the corporate media needed in order to spin their distraction story.

Finally the Sanders media blackout was at an end. Finally the media acknowledged the existence of millions of people who were fed up and were demanding that their government represent them.

But the corporate media was not talking about the impropriety of the Democrats. Instead they were talking about the man who raised the chair and then immediately set it back down. Roberta Lange and Barbara Boxer took to the airwaves saying that they feared for their lives. Sanders supporters were portrayed as being violent and deranged. Sanders himself was called upon to “speak to his followers” and once again the corporate media exposed themselves as being in bed with Hillary Clinton and the DNC.

Never mind that a “Democratic” convention was blatantly rigged and we had the video to prove it.

Never mind that hardworking delegates were stripped of their credentials without just cause.

Someone had raised a chair for half a second.

This was what Clinton’s corporate media backers had been waiting for.

Sadly, Nevada was not the only place where blatant electoral fraud was taking place. Close races in Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky showed large discrepancies between normally accurate exit polling and final vote counts.

Clinton barely squeezed out victories in all three states.

While I was in Iowa, I watched as Clinton paid staff showed up to caucus centers dressed in identical red uniforms to match that of the Nurses for Bernie volunteers with the sole intention of deceiving the Sanders’ voters, many of whom had never caucused before.

At one Iowa precinct, two Clinton volunteers told the Sanders’ caucusers that the building was over the fire safety limit and that they would have to go outside to have their votes counted. The rules of the caucus clearly stated that once caucus counts begin that you are not allowed to leave or your vote will be invalidated.

Across the country in New York, tens of thousands of Sanders’ supporters were literally pleading for their right to vote. These New Yorkers were denied this inalienable right, because they did not register as Democrats six months in advance of the primary and while this is not technically election fraud, it does point to the attitude that the Democratic Party has towards voters.

The message is and was loud and clear.

If you are not a member of our club, then you do not have a voice.

But there was actual election fraud in New York as well.

In Sanders’ childhood home of Brooklyn, New York, 122,454 registered voters had their voter eligibility stripped from them just days before the primary. The reason given for this unexpected purge was voter inactivity. These were voters who were registered, but had not voted since 2008 or earlier. As Sanders’ success was primarily based on a combination of first time voters and disenchanted voters returning to vote for a candidate after a latency period, it seems obvious that purging these voters hurt Sanders more than it hurt Clinton. Clinton was simply not the type of candidate that inspired voters to end their apathy and return to the fold. Sanders was.

When these Brooklynites showed up to vote for Senator Sanders a few days later, they found that they were no longer registered. When they attempted to register, they were informed that they were not allowed to participate in the primary, because they had not been registered as Democrats six months prior.

I can tell you, as a traveling volunteer, that I personally had access to canvassing and phone-banking information that informed me of whom each person I spoke with was planning to vote for. Obviously the Democratic Party had access to this same information. The systematic purging of over 100,000 voters days before a primary is a ridiculous assault on the intelligence and basic human rights of the American voter. It is a blatant and systematic assault on democracy itself.

Democrats are a very exclusive club. They can’t have just anyone walking in off the street and voting. These people might actually vote for someone that will change the system.

There are well manipulated controls instituted throughout our so-called Democracy that gently (and not so gently) herd the voters towards the desired corporate candidates. It is not to say that there is not some shred of Democracy left in America. To imply this would be too extreme. It is simply to say that there are controls in place at every level to insure that the candidates that have corporate backing also have the Democratic Party’s backing and any attempts to permeate this membrane will have to be extreme and consistent.

For those of you who read this and believe that there is no hope and therefore no reason to vote or take other civic actions, you are missing the point. The mere fact that we forced the man behind the curtain to show his face, ever so briefly, is progress. It wakes people up from the matrix and causes discontent. This discontent is our weapon against the oligarchical forces that control our government. Put simply, we have the numbers.

The solution isn’t apathy.

The solution is increased activity.

The solution is political revolution.

If you don’t know about the massive election fraud that took place in order to help Hillary Clinton and her campaign, then I just sound like a bitter and crazy Bernie-Bro, which is of course, the exact narrative that the corporate media continues to espouse to this very day.

It is easy to dismiss these claims of electoral manipulation as the rantings of a madman. But there is the simple fact that we literally have proof of nearly every single transgression. A cell phone video here, a leaked email there. It’s all out there for those who want to invest the time to learn the disgusting truth.

I hear myself.

I know what I sound like.

And in effect, I am actually being a conspiracy theorist, because I’m telling you that there was definitely and undeniably a MASSIVE conspiracy to insure that Hillary Clinton received the Democratic nomination.

The problem I have in retelling this sick, sad story isn’t in providing proof. It is in limiting myself in deciding which stories to tell, because there was simply so much electoral manipulation in the 2016 Democratic primary that in order to cover all of it would require several in depth tomes.

Absent from this chapter will be the closed polling stations in Arizona, that mysteriously corresponded with a sudden surge in voter registration, as a result of Sanders’ rapidly growing popularity.

I will not be able to give the time deserved to exit polling discrepancies that began in Massachusetts and then repeated in nearly every close race across the country where Clinton mysteriously prevailed.

Nor will I attempt to explain why the corporate media arms of the Democratic Party suddenly stopped conducting exit polling for the first time in thirty years when Sanders’ supporters began calling attention to said discrepancies.

I will not be able to adequately explain the crippling effect that corporate news outlets had on the Sanders campaign, by running super-delegate totals on their tickers, around the clock, months before the super-delegates even pledged, creating the illusion and narrative that Sanders was losing by a wide margin in their attempts to discourage people from going to the polls and making Sanders political revolution a reality.

I cannot elucidate the depths of corporate depravity required by the media monopoly that told voters that the California primary had already been won by Hillary Clinton the night before voting was to begin, in an attempt to insure that Sanders did not win the state by a landslide that would have secured him the number of delegates needed to insure the nomination. If this had occurred then Sanders would be the President of the United States right now and there was no way those in power were going to allow this to happen.

What I can do is fulfill the promise I made on page one of this book and share my personal story. For I was also a Bernie Sanders county and state delegate and I attended my state’s convention in Indiana.

Upon arrival Friday evening, I smiled and nodded my way into the opening night dinner. It was really my only option as I could not afford the ticket price.

Once inside I did my best to blend in among several hundred people dressed much nicer than myself. As women in flowing evening gowns took their seats next to men dressed in expensive suits, the lights began to dim and in quick succession prominent members of Indiana’s Democratic Party came to the microphone and talked about how wonderful it was to be a Democrat and what an amazing time it was to be alive to see the election of the “first woman President.”

I am not joking when I tell you that literally every person who came to the podium used the term “first woman President.”

There was only one problem with that;

Senator Bernie Sanders won the great state of Indiana.

We, The People, had worked hard and knocked on doors. We had stood in the rain and trudged through the snow. We had gone without things we needed to make our donations. And even though Indiana is one of the last states to hold its convention and even though we knew, by this point, that winning was a long-shot, this was still OUR convention.

We had won.

We were told a week before our primary that Nate Silver had gauged Hillary Clinton as a 99% lock to win our state and our response was to pack our meals so we could eat while canvassing. We stopped going back to the campaign center for new routes. During crunch time we would finish one route and text back for a new one. We called in friends from other states and they crashed on our floors so we could come from behind and win this. On voting day we drove around to polling stations to film the Clinton people who were stationed at the door trying to influence voters. We spoke with hostile Republicans who called us communists and got some of them to vote for Bernie Sanders. We were harassed by police and threatened by men with confederate flags. We did everything and then we did more and we won our state and I personally tweeted Nate Silver that evening and told him to “stick to sports predicting because if you haven’t noticed after Michigan and Indiana, there is a revolution happening in this country!”

We had won.

But none of the speakers mentioned that.

And then the speakers stopped and three giant movie screens, that I had failed to notice before, lit up with the face of Hillary Clinton and all three Hillary’s told me how grateful she was that her supporters came out to celebrate our pending victory against Donald Trump and the Republicans.

We had won.

Hillary forgot to mention that.

We had won.

But we were treated like losers.

The next morning, I arrived early to the convention, in hopes of encouraging my voters to support other national delegate contenders, that I felt were more deserving of the honor.

I showed up with my best attitude. I reminded myself repeatedly that I was not just representing myself, but that I was also representing Bernie Sanders. I tried to think how Bernie would act. I smiled and tried to shake hands with the Hillary delegates, but none of them seemed particularly interested in speaking with me, so I went inside to listen to the speakers from the Democratic Party.

Clinton super-delegate and my district’s Congressman, Andre Carson, took the podium and spoke for 20 minutes about the importance of being a Democrat and what an honor it was to see the “first woman President” make such a historic run.

He never mentioned Bernie.

Then Indiana Democratic governor candidate, John Gregg, took the microphone and spoke about how Democrats create jobs and how important it was to vote for Hillary Clinton so she could be come the “first woman President.”

John Gregg never mentioned Bernard Sanders or his delegates.

We were invisible.

The speakers were bumming me out so I decided to walk out to the hallway and recharge. As I did I noticed a lady with a tray full of gum. People were taking a piece and smiling at her and she was smiling back. That looked nice so I walked over, smiled and took a piece of gum.

“THIS gum is for HILLARY DELEGATES!!” she snarled at me.

I stood there thinking about how much I hated politics and wondered why I was wearing a damned tie and wondering why I had finally spent the money to get an actual adult haircut. I wondered why it mattered who chewed the gum or who didn’t. All they kept talking about inside was unity, but then when I tried to shake someone’s hand or eat a piece of gum then the unity was gone. Perhaps “unity” was just a code-word that meant Bernie Sanders delegates were supposed to sit down, shut up and fall in line.

I’m just some dude who spent his life screaming in punk bands. I am not accustomed to morose old slags glaring at me and telling me I don’t rank highly enough for free gum.

So I snapped.

“I’d rather my breath smell like DOGSHIT(!!!) than to chew Hillary Clinton gum!!!” I said tossing the gum back on the tray and walking away.

I took a seat in the Bernie delegate section next to a blind man, a dominatrix and my new friend who had kickass tattoos all over her face and neck.

Just me, my funky breath and my misfit friends trying to infect the not so Democratic Party.

THAT’S THE CHAPTER – I REALLY HOPED YOU ENJOYED IT!! THERE ARE MANY MORE EXCITING CHAPTERS IN THE FULL VERSION OF THE BOOK. 

berniebook

HERE ARE ALL THE DETAILS YOU NEED IN ONE EASY TO UNDERSTAND VIDEO

CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO

The video is kind of long.
There was a lot I wanted to fit in.
Here are the bullet points.
If you want an electronic copy of the book, I’ll send you one out absolutely free
Just send an email to
GoBernieGoBernieGo@gmail.com
And I’ll get an electronic copy sent out to you as soon as it goes to press on August 28.
If anyone wants to contribute to the publishing costs, they can do so by clicking the link below.
DONATIONS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO RECEIVE THE BOOK!!
There is also an exciting bonus program for founding members.
Anyone who donates $27 or more will be part of The 27 Buck Club.
Those people receive a physical copy of the book, shipped to their home, along with a second book, The Independent Thinker Chronicles.
The Independent Thinker Chronicles is a compilation of articles I wrote while on the road with the campaign.
In addition, anyone in The 27 Buck Club gets their name credited inside the book for being an integral part of getting the book to press.
If joining The 27 Buck Club, please be sure to include the address of where your books are to be shipped.
If no one donates I’ll foot the entire bill for the publishing and I’LL STILL SEND OUT THE FREE COPIES!!
If the crowdfunding is successful and there is any money left over after paying the publishing costs, these proceeds go to pay Ari’s schooling (see video for details).
I wanted to structure this where everyone could get the book without paying for it.
But I also wanted to structure it where there was freedom to participate for those who wanted to and I wanted to reward those people with something exciting.
This is my first time doing crowdfunding and also my first time self-publishing so I hope I did a good job with the structure.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this chapter and I really look forward to getting the book to you.

I’ve spent so much time trying to make it amazing.

I sincerely believe that it is a book that needed to be written and I’m honored to be able to be part of such an incredible movement.

Your friend in Revolution,

Michael E Sparks

harrypottercupcake

Yesterday being Father’s Day, I made a post on social media that simply said

“For all you single mothers out there, doing the work of two parents, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day!!”

Simple enough, right?

Of course it’s not simple.

At first my post was well-received. Women began to say how nice it was to feel appreciated for doing the work of two parents and the whole forum was kind of a nice little love-fest.

But then, as you might expect, the white males came in to tell everyone that “a woman can never be a father.” It was very important to these white males that they remind everyone that their gender is decided by the genitals they had at birth and therefore women could never be fathers and men could never be mothers.

I don’t so much care about their arguments. People are allowed to believe what they want to believe. What bothers me is that suddenly it seems that we are not allowed to express ANY opinion on ANY subject without white males reminding us that we are wrong in such a forceful way as to make everyone wonder why these white males are so invested in a topic that would seem trivial to any normal person.

But nothing is trivial to the white male.

A thousand year reign of global dominance is not enough for him. Now, as our nation and our planet takes baby steps towards equality, the white male is here to remind us, in every public forum, that they have a voice and that their voice should be recognized as important.

And before I get too worked up, I want to say that not ALL white males are opinionated ass-hats, but whenever you see someone on a soapbox telling everyone else how they should live their lives, what religion they are allowed to practice, what gender they are allowed to be, what they can do with their reproductive rights, what flowers they are allowed to inhale or who they are allowed to have consensual sex with, it is always an entitled, blowhard, self-important white male standing front and center sermonizing to the rest of us.

These white males, having never faced any of the struggles that others face, are somehow experts on what everyone else should do.

It’s a bloody miracle!!

How did this one group of people become an expert for all of us?

whitemale

I’m not sure why this one group has become so much more important than all other people combined, but we would be wise to listen to the white male, because he is basically a giant, well-armed toddler. Instead of throwing himself on the ground and banging his fists, the modern white-male throws their temper tantrums with violence and pseudo-violence.

If you choose a religion that isn’t Christianity, the white male will be there to harass, beat and maybe even murder you.

If a woman has the audacity to dress in a way that the white male doesn’t approve of, he will be there to tell her how offensive her choice of attire is. Sure, the white male can walk around in camouflage pants and no shirt, showing off his C-cups, but if a woman dares to show the tiniest bit of cleavage there will be a white male there to tell her exactly how she should be dressing, while simultaneously hitting on her, of course.

White males seem to be everywhere, letting us all know their opinion on nearly every subject under the sun. If you are colorblind do not fret, you can do an auditory identification of this breed from a distance based on their booming voice and improper use of the word FACT.

White males often use the word FACT to mean MY OPINION WHICH NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO QUESTION. They seem to think that if they say their opinions loud enough and often enough then their opinions magically transform into FACTS. They confuse the glazed over look of their audience with compliance when in reality it is boredom.

Some of the white male’s favorite catch-phrases are

“FACTS are FACTS.”

“Those are just the FACTS.”

and

“I’m sorry if you don’t like FACTS, but I didn’t make the rules.”

But actually you did make the rules. Or at the very least, one of your ancestors did. And with all due respect, (which is the EXACT SAME AMOUNT OF RESPECT THAT EVERYONE ELSE IS ENTITLED TO!!!) we tried your rules and they worked out pretty great for YOU, but they kind of sucked for everyone else.

So maybe you can just sit your #AllLivesMatter ass down for just a minute and let women decide what to do with their own bodies and maybe keep your opinions off of them, as you literally have zero idea what it’s like to be female.

Perhaps you could STFU for a goddamned minute and allow people to worship as they see fit.

And perhaps you could actually READ that Constitution you’re always quoting, because when you do, you will find that it was written by some very intelligent white men, who understood that color and gender weren’t as important as every human being’s inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

So, in spite of it offending all the white male snowflakes out there, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you once again to all the single mom’s who raised children by themselves and did the work of both Mom and Dad.

Happy Mother AND Father’s Day to YOU every day of the year.

You deserve to be celebrated.

White males who don’t agree with my opinion on this matter, feel free to express your thoughts and feelings, but you’ll have to do it with your noses in the corner, because I’m putting you in timeout.

After that, I want you to head over to the chalkboard and write 100 times

“I promise to stop commenting on things I couldn’t possibly understand.”

Time to grow up white boy.

The world is changing.

You better start changing with it.

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Michael E Sparks is a white male who doesn’t have a clue as to how other people should worship, dress or manage their reproductive rights. If you appreciate his voice consider throwing him a buck or two by clicking HERE. Michael promises not to use the money to oppress anyone different than him.

 

 

 

THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION. IT IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY. THE AUTHOR WANTS TO STRESS THAT HE BELIEVES IN NON-VIOLENT PASSIVE RESISTANCE. THE AUTHOR DOES NOT CONDONE VIOLENCE AGAINST GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IN ANY WAY.

It all started at a baseball diamond.

Baseball had once been called America’s pastime. Before anger, hatred, poverty and desperation had consumed the lives of the populous, back in a simpler time, people gathered in fields to throw a horsehide covered ball, perchance to hit it with a wooden bat and run with wind in hair towards the promise land 360 feet away from where they began.

But times had changed.

It all started at a baseball diamond.

Where rich, corrupt government officials gathered to play the grand ol game, but were interrupted by man with a gun screaming about healthcare between shots.

A Congressman was shot and wounded and the assailant killed.

Everyone said the right things. Everyone publicly denounced the action as insanity. Everyone agreed that times were desperate, but that violence was not the answer.

But somehow this was different.

In living rooms across America normally peaceful people said things like

“I abhor violence, but when you take away people’s healthcare you technically are murdering them, so I see why the man was angry.”

Peace-loving leftists had begun saying things like

“It’s wrong to use violence, but the Congressman who was shot voted for mentally ill people to be able to buy firearms so…”

Then a shot rang out during a press conference.

A Senator was there speaking one moment, then a moment later a gruesome visage filled television screens as the man’s head was somehow severed in half. Reporters scrambled for safety, but a second shot never came.

News outlets announced that the Senator had been killed by a sniper. The city came to a grinding halt as police searched for an assassin they knew they would never find. Over the next several days the FBI brought in many people for questioning. All of them were military trained snipers.

The media was loving it.

Behind fake displays of sadness and compassion from TV anchors there was excitement. Everyone was watching as they said the most exciting words in all of journalism

“We want to warn you. The images you are about to see are very graphic and disturbing. Parents please have your children leave the room.”

But no one left the room.

People watched the man with the disappearing head with the same rubbernecking, macabre interest children show towards a bug trying to escape the piercing ray from their magnifying glass on a hot summer’s day. Everyone had a theory about who the shooter was. People talked about it on the Internet and around water coolers.

A week later everyone stopped talking about the Senator.

There was a new story.

Something more exciting.

Congressmen all over the country began to get sick all at the same time, seven of them in total. All seven were rushed to respective hospitals. Six died the first night. The seventh succumbed the following morning.

A group of nurses, calling themselves The Sisters of Mercy, took responsibility for the murders. They even explained how they had orchestrated the event. Each woman had went to visit their Congressmen and simply shook their hands. During the handshake each woman had brought their other hand over the top of their Congressman’s hand encompassing it and sliding a tiny needle into it.

Each man had felt a tiny prick, but ignored it and continued to lock eyes with his would-be assailant and pretended to listen to their concerns. A few hours later the Congressmen all fell ill. By the next day the coroners had all found the toxin and the by nightfall all seven women had been taken into custody.

They did not resist.

A viral video was released that explained their motives.

The Sisters of Mercy said that they were reluctant to kill, but that they had each watched far too many innocent people die while under their care, due to lack of affordable healthcare and that they wanted to make an example out of the men who had taken that healthcare away from those they had sworn to protect.

In the video, the group’s leader, Mary Ingram showed her father deteriorating towards death and dementia as she tearfully explained that she had lost her job when she had been caught stealing medicine to keep her father’s pain at bay.

In the video, all the women cried while they explained to their children that they were sorry. They all said that they knew they would be caught and that being caught was part of their plan to shed light on what they called “an epidemic of greed that was killing innocent people.”

But it was not the only video going viral.

guyfawkes

The Internet became flooded with videos of people in Guy Fawkes’ masks, hiding behind VPNs who used voice changing software to announce to the world that more murders were coming and that more representatives would be made examples of unless certain conditions were met.

There were so many of these videos that it became impossible to distinguish real threats from fake ones. In Omaha, Nebraska a twelve year old was arrested on live TV for making one of the videos. In New York city a man who “mainly kept to himself” was captured (also on live TV) and incarcerated as well.

This pattern repeated all over the country. There were even arrests made overseas. But the videos kept on coming. All fit the same pattern. It was impossible to tell where the enemy was coming from, but no one was actually being attacked.

It had been ten days since the Sisters of Mercy killings and things were returning to normal.

But it was the Town Hall in Alabama where things really went south.

Most Congressional members had canceled their Town Halls in light of recent violence, but not Billy Tubbs. He wasn’t one to be “pushed around by a bunch of do-nothing liberals.”

Billy showed up at his Town Hall surrounded by armed police officers and announced to the room that he “was not afraid and would not be bullied.” The crowd was angry at the police presence and things became heated. Screaming lead to pushing and shoving, which lead to a young officer pointing his gun at the crowd. Which lead to the crowd storming the stage. Which then lead to shots being fired into the crowd.

Chaos ensued.

Tubbs escaped unharmed, but damage was done.

Several police officers were badly beaten and about forty members of the crowd sustained significant injuries, most from being trampled, a few from gunshot wounds.

There was one fatality.

Shayla Reid, a 19 year old political activist, had been struck in the chest with a bullet and died before ambulances arrived.

In the days following, cell phone footage of Shayla’s tragic death circulated and the nation was in mourning. Shayla struck a chord with people. She was everyone’s child.

News outlets showed childhood photos of Shayla around the clock, along with tearful interviews with her parents.

The collective consciousness of the nation was altered by Shayla’s death.

The insanity might have ended right there if not for a statement put out on social media by The President in which he said that Shayla’s death was “what happens when paid protesters show up and ruin it for everybody else.”

This rubbed salt in the country’s open wound.

Vigils for Shayla sprang up all over the country.

Shayla’s parents encouraged everyone to take one day off work and “stand in silence for Democracy and to honor Shayla’s memory.”

One day turned into two, which turned into three…

The nation’s productivity ceased.

Life would have probably returned to the normal after a week or two if it weren’t for the bomb.

The bomb changed everything.

(WRITER’S NOTE: THIS IS JUST AN IDEA I WAS TOYING AROUND WITH. THIS IS JUST THE FIRST CHAPTER. IF THERE WERE A HUGE DEMAND FOR IT, I MAY CONSIDER WRITING MORE. I JUST WANTED TO GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD AND INTO SOME TANGIBLE FORM. I KNOW I SAID IT AT THE BEGINNING, BUT I REALLY WANT TO STRESS THAT THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION AND NOT MEANT TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY. VIOLENCE IS BAD MMMMKAY? DON’T KILL PEOPLE. YOUR MOTHER TAUGHT YOU BETTER THAN THAT.)

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Michael E Sparks is a good ol boy from Indiana. He loves to write. If you want to give him more time to pursue his passion then you can be super-nice and drop him a dollar or two HERE. He GREATLY APPRECIATES those who believe in his work and take the time to read it.

I awoke this morning to news that a man took a gun to a baseball diamond and began shooting people.

But this was not your ordinary every day American spree shooting. This was not a white supremacist shooting up a black church or mosque. This wasn’t some moron shooting innocent people in a movie theater or a homophobe targeting young people in a nightclub.

This shooter was a liberal.

And to make matters more complex, he was not shooting innocent people.

He was shooting Republican Congressmen while shouting about healthcare.

While my knee-jerk reaction is to renounce this incident and while my heart certainly goes out to the brave police officers who risked their lives to subdue the shooter, I really have trouble feeling bad for the GOP Congressman, Steve Scalise, who is recovering nicely while receiving the best healthcare that our tax dollars can buy.

You see, Mr. Scalise and his colleagues believe that they deserve to have their gun shot wounds treated and that you and I should foot the bill. But when it comes to our healthcare, they feel radically different on the matter.

In addition to his hypocrisy on healthcare, Scalise and his Republican comrades have repeatedly passed bills that allow guns to fall into the hands of the mentally ill, while simultaneously cutting funding to help those suffering from mental illness.

These bills cause real pain and suffering in the lives of real Americans. These bills cause the deaths of innocent people on a daily basis, not to mention that the continual outpouring of NRA propaganda, spewed forth by these so-called representatives, results in gun violence routinely directed at our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

sandyhook

These Republicans are big on thoughts and prayers, but don’t seem to care about passing meaningful gun control legislation or protecting the rights of those gunshot victims to receive the same level of healthcare that Mr Scalise received today as he was carted off the field.

With all due respect Mr. Republican, your thoughts and prayers did nothing to help the victims of the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando.

Your thoughts and prayers did nothing for Dylann Roof’s victims, who only wanted to participate in a peaceful Sunday morning church service.

Your thoughts and prayers did nothing for the little babies murdered at Sandy Hook.

Your thoughts and prayers are useless to us.

In fact, to be completely blunt about it, you can shove your thoughts and prayers right up your ass.

What Americans need are sensible gun control laws and Universal Healthcare. You instead choose to spew rhetoric designed to confuse The People while lining your pockets with our tax dollars and NRA lobbyist money.

Honor victims of gun violence during week of tragedy

So forgive me if I do not feel sorry for you, Mr. Scalise. I know, as a liberal, I am supposed to be above it all. But I have watched you and your cohorts dismantle my country and directly contribute to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people and I have grown numb.

And now, The People have become so desperate, so disenfranchised, that ordinary citizens are finally desperate enough to begin taking desperate measures.

When we were suffering all you offered were thoughts and prayers, so that’s all I have for you in return.

We have been the victims of your inhumane policies for far too long.

All of our sympathy and good will has been used up burying our own friends and family.

We have none left over for our oppressors.

ppshooter

I am reminded of the immortal words of great Americans John F. Kennedy and Thomas Jefferson.

Kennedy said “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

While Jefferson said “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”

And we have been living under tyranny in this country for far too long.

When we watch our loved ones die by the hands of the very people who were sworn to protect us, there WILL BE RESENTMENT. While I stop short of condoning the actions of the gunman, I believe that many Americans are feeling the same desperation that he felt when he woke up this morning and decided to head out to the baseball diamond.

They are feeling scared and desperate.

Violence is certainly not the answer, but let us never forget that it is an option to be used when ALL OTHER options have been exhausted. We do not condone violence. We stand for peaceful, political revolution and we believe in exhausting all peaceful means to attain that revolution. But let us not forget that our founding fathers spoke of our DUTY to take up arms against a tyrannical government.

When you take away healthcare that WE PAID FOR WITH OUR TAX DOLLARS and innocent people die, that is tyranny.

When you pass gun laws that allow the mentally ill to purchase firearms to terrorize their fellow citizens, that is tyranny.

When you continue to take millions from corporate lobbyists and lie to the very people that you are sworn to protect, that is tyranny.

Your ivory towers can only protect you for so long.

Your town halls should be an ample reminder that the citizens are fed up and on the verge of revolt.

You cannot run.

You cannot hide.

You’re going to have to do something radical if you want to quell the insurrection that is brewing in this country.

You’re going to have to actually represent your constituents for a change.

You’re going to have to actually do your fucking job.

bullhorn
Michael E Sparks is an Independent writer and political activist. If you believe in his words and his work you can drop him a dollar or two by clicking HERE. Your support buys Michael time to work on Progressive projects and is GREATLY appreciated.

The gym I go to is largely Republican.

Good ol boys.

Self-made men.

I like those guys a lot. And they like me. I think I’m a novelty to them, the guy with the Mohawk and the Bernie Sanders tattoo.

They are always introducing me to their buddies with

“This is the guy I was tellin ya about.” and then they want me to show their friend my tattoo.

Usually their friends will whip out their cell phones, take a picture and say something like

“My kid will get a kick out of this.”

Then they always try to get me to discuss politics with their friend.

I think it’s their way of saying

“Hey look. I met a liberal that actually makes sense when it talks.”

I could see how some people would get offended by that, but I know that these guys are just like I am, in the sense that they live in an echo-chamber and the only time they get exposed to ideas from the other side is when they see sensationalized corporate “news” or some haughty bumper sticker that says something to the effect of “I’m right! You’re wrong and stupid!! So sit down and shut up, MORON!!!”

Because that’s the level of discourse that America has allowed itself to sink to.

We have become a culture where “cash me outside” is not only accepted, but rewarded.

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We are led to believe lies by those who profit from our strife.

We are repeatedly told that those with differing views are here to take away our rights and freedoms.

Corporate media bombards our senses with nonstop messages of fear and entitlement. Our entire nation is gripped in an eternal panic attack, wondering where the next threat will come from.

I was told that these Republican guys were supposed to be my enemies.

But I talked with them and they seemed to have the same hopes and dreams that I have.

They’re good guys.

We talk.

We listen.

We learn from each other.

We refuse to let fascist lies divide us.

hugging3

Today I was getting in my girlfriend’s car, after my workout, when one of the guys stopped me and asked in his Georgia twang

“Where’s the Bernie-mobile?!”

“Blew the transmission yesterday.” I volunteered.

“Gotta get her fixed.” he boomed “That’s more than just a vehicle. That’s a war machine. That thing’s been all over God’s beautiful United States spreading the gospel of Bernie Sanders. If it’s coming off the road then it needs to be in a museum. I think you oughtta get her fixed, Mike”

“I thought about it.” I told him “But it’s got 170,000 miles on it. I think it might be done.”

“Mike, I’m not talkin’ practicality here. I’m talkin’ from the heart. I’m about this close to takin’ up a collection. If I come to the gym and don’t see the Berniemobile, somethin’ just don’t seem right.”

Can I tell you that this man was being completely sincere?

Because he was.

Even though he believes pretty much the direct opposite of Bernie Sanders core Socialist values, he doesn’t hate me for standing up for them.

In fact, he respects my passion and I respect his.

We often end our short, entertaining discussions with him saying

“Man. Every time I think I can dismiss the Democrats as a whole, I talk to you and I feel like there may be hope for them yet.”

And me, with my stock reply

“I ain’t no goddamned Democrat.”

We both smile.

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Recently one of the guys at the gym, who was born poor and now owns a huge construction company and is always talking about trickle-down economics and how important they are to America becoming dominant globally again, found out that I was considering changing gyms.

“What’s this I hear about you defecting?” he inquired.

“That new gym that opened charges half what they charge here and they have better equipment. It’s that simple. I like working out here, but I have to save money.”

“Mike, you’re missing the point. The reason why you pay twice as much here is because you are paying for all these programs for people who can’t afford them.”

He pointed at a group of kids playing basketball in the gym down a level from where we were standing.

“You save $20 a month and these kids lose their programs. Is that what you want?”

“Wow!” I said “You’re starting to sound like a Socialist!”

“Well, maybe you’re rubbing off on me.” he replied, smiling.

 

Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders Holds Student Town Hall In Fairfax, Virginia

If this story has a moral, it is to get outside of your echo-chamber and disengage from corporate media.

They sell fear in a time when we need love more than ever.

Find people who see things differently than you and just listen to them.

Don’t try to change their minds.

Just listen and get curious.

Ask them questions and try your best to be nonjudgmental while listening to their answers and you will discover that even those people who have views that are radically dissimilar to yours are still fine people.

I know it’s scary, but there’s the possibility that you could even learn something.

You may also be given the epiphany that if you were this other person, who was born in the environment that they were born into and had received the same data that they had received over their lifetime, then you too would believe as they do.

That’s kind of a big juicy steak of a thought.

I’d advise chewing on it for a while before trying to swallow it.

 

mikeinphilly
My name is Michael E Sparks. If my work has value to you, you can throw a buck or two my way by clicking HERE. I will always write regardless, but donations allow me time to actually sit down to do it and that is the nicest thing anyone could ever do for me. I really appreciate your kindness.

 

I woke up one morning last week thinking about Paul.

It had been two years since my friend Cole had killed herself. When Paul heard the news he followed suit and took his own life. Paul had been struggling with a major depressive period and losing someone he loved was just too much for him.

I lost two of my closest friends in the span of six days, but there was no time to grieve. There were others whom these tragedies affected more and I had to be there for them. There were funerals to attend and arrangements to be made. Everything became a blur and soon two weeks had passed and I still hadn’t grieved.

Well to be fair, I actually did have a few hours of mental breakdown, but it wasn’t until months later that I realized that my collapse was related to my friend’s deaths.

The day Paul died I didn’t cry.

I was numb.

I was debating people in a political forum and several people were attacking my character instead of my arguments, as often happens in these situations. Suddenly, I got really upset and put my phone down. I went upstairs and just laid there feeling dead inside. My girlfriend was scared, as she had never seen me just lay down in the middle of the day like that. When she tried to reach me all I said is

“I don’t get why people have to be so fucking mean.”

After she left I laid there and cried and what’s funny is, the entire time I cried I felt like I was crying about the people who were calling me names on the political forum. I kept thinking about the words they used and they stung me in ways that I could not comprehend. I had been in thousands of political discussions and been insulted by strangers ten thousand times. Never did I cry about it.

It’s strange to me that I didn’t understand that I was really crying about Paul and Cole.

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Cole was a really good friend.

I loved her deeply.

Once when I was staring into the abyss, she came to my house and dragged me out. She took me to strip clubs and bought me drinks that I didn’t drink. She paid girls to dance for me and I ignored them. She did everything she could to make me smile, yet I didn’t smile.

But I felt loved.

And that love helped me to crawl out of my hole and see light again.

Cole was a kind and gentle, yet disturbed soul and I related to her on nearly every level.

But the darkness took her and the black hole created by that consumed Paul.

Paul was one of my best friends in this life and his loss is something that I feel every single day. He would be shocked to hear me say that. He was convinced that his life had no value.

Last week the weather had something in it that felt familiar. As Carrie and I were drinking our morning coffee, I said to her

“This feels exactly like the day when Paul killed himself.”

Hoffman, Philip Seymour

I logged into social media to see what stupid-ass thing Donald Trump had been doing, only to see that Chris Cornell had committed suicide.

I would be lying to say that I was moved by this.

Celebrity deaths wash over me, with some occasional exceptions.

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams devastated me, because both of them reminded me of myself.

I could always see them struggling with their demons.

When Spalding Gray and David Foster Wallace decided life was too much to bear, I felt a tremendous sense of dread in the pit of my stomach, for I knew these men saw behind the curtain much in the same way that I do.

But I was not moved by Chris Cornell’s death. At least not immediately I wasn’t. Instead I made a comment about how “the Mount Rushmore of grunge singers was now complete.” Layne Staley, Kurt Cobain, Andrew Wood and now Chris Cornell, four of the five most influential singers of their era were all gone by their own hands.

Meanwhile Eddie Vedder was still pushing words through closed teeth somewhere.

And I was still sitting here, trying to make sense of it all.

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Chris Cornell’s suicide had me thinking about Paul even more than usual.

Paul and I used to be in a band that covered Show Me How to Live by Audioslave. I would always make sure it was last on the set list, because after I replicated Cornell’s razor-blade gargling screams, I could barely speak, let alone sing.

Paul was also on my mind because my guitars kept breaking lately.

In addition to being my friend and mentor, Paul was also my guitar tech. I am an ignorant musician who spent his life mastering words and melody, but I know nothing of wood-crafting.

Over the years, I would play the hell out of my instruments and eventually damage them. I would take them to Paul and he would give me a lecture about caring for them better and then he would repair them and then whatever he tried to charge me, I would pay him double.

He would always fight with me about it, but I would insist that he take the money.

Even at double-pay, he was still cheating himself.

Paul wasn’t very good about taking care of his needs and would go long periods of time without eating, because he didn’t have money for food. I finally figured out how to solve this problem. I would go to pawn shops and buy broken instruments and take them to Paul so he could fix them.

He would get very upset when he saw the damaged guitars and say something like

“This crack in the neck. How did that happen?!”

I would assure him that it was the previous owner who had been so cruel, but this did little to calm him. Paul took the mistreatment of musical instruments very personally. He was always so dire. He would shake his head and say

“I don’t know if I can save this, Michael, but I’ll do my best.”

Then he would email me constant guilt-laden updates on the status of the instrument.

“It’s in the wood press and I’m bending the wood back to normal, but it could crack at any moment. I’m really sorry, Michael. I’m doing all I can…”

“It’s fine, Paul. I appreciate your efforts. Thank you so much for trying.”

Paul saved every single instrument I ever gave to him.

But he couldn’t save himself.

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Paul and Cole weren’t the first friends of mine to end their own lives.

My best friend Danny killed himself when he got back from fighting in Iraq and a few years after that I put Billy in the ground.

Billy was supposed to have a closed casket, but we told the minister that we needed to give some things to him, so he stepped aside and we put Billy’s Magic the Gathering cards inside with him.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I’m not sure I ever really processed any of these deaths.

I’m not even sure how we go about processing such things.

Paul and Cole died right after my mother died. My response to this was to hit the road to canvass for Bernie Sanders. It was so exciting to be part of something so beautiful, that I really didn’t think too much about those whom I had recently lost.

Then suddenly a rock singer kills himself and it all comes flooding back.

I’m standing next to my child in a pawn shop, playing a guitar that was probably a beautiful instrument once upon a time.

I hold it up and show them how the wood is bent. Our eyes meet underneath the strings and I say out loud

“Man, fuck Paul.”

“Yeah” they said.

AndrewWood

In the middle of this swirling mess, I am fighting with one of my best friends.

She, a brilliant and reasonable person, is telling me why I need to believe in a conspiracy theory regarding a man supposedly murdered by the government. Politics is a big part of my life, but this simply was not a good time. She kept sending me articles and I kept reading them. It was all stuff I had read before, but I care about her so I read it all again and tried to see it all through her eyes.

I couldn’t get there from here.

It just made me sad and angry.

As I read through page after page, as I watched video after video, all I could think about was how terrible it must be for this man’s parents and siblings. I read about how his mother, father and brother were asking people to stop politicizing his death and I began to get angrier and angrier about it, while at the same time knowing that I was projecting a lot of other things onto the situation and that this was fueling the arguments between my friend and myself.

I know what it’s like to bury a child.

I buried one of my own.

But I cannot compare my tragedy to theirs. My child was a newborn baby. Their little boy was 27 years old, in the prime of his life. Their loss was much greater than mine. I began to feel very protective of the murdered man’s parents. I kept imagining myself in their crestfallen shoes.

It’s actually not fair of me to say that.

I can’t even imagine the hell they must be in.

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Alas there was an oasis in the middle of my emotional desert.

Carrie and I had planned a party for Saturday night.

Normally these parties are fun, but this one felt like much more than that. I could feel that I needed the affirmation of living people.

A man I had never met before came to the party in a Feel the Bern shirt. The man kept telling me that I was “the reason why he calls his senators” and to be honest I really needed to hear something like that, because I was feeling pretty down about all the work we had put in and how things had been going lately.

I used to log onto social media and feel renewed by seeing so many activists, but lately everyone seemed to be talking about the murdered man and I found myself getting in fights with people and wondering what the point of everything had been.

Even during the party, Paul was there.

I had intentionally been avoiding reading about Chris Cornell, but everyone at the party was talking about it. Someone told me that Chris took an extra Ativan and then hung himself with the rubber cable from his exercise machine.

That is exactly how Paul killed himself.

Paul took a bunch of pills and then hung himself with the cable of his weight-lifting machine.

The similarities chilled me.

So I just drank more and smoked more pot.

This was my fucking party.

I did not want to be sad at my own fucking party.

layne

A good friend came to our gathering that night and while he was drunk he told me that he had been planning to kill himself a few weeks earlier, but that my visits had stopped him from doing so. He said

“Your friendship was a literal lifesaver for me. I know that you will be surprised to hear this, but when you came by that Friday I had accepted the fact that no one was going to miss me and had made up my mind to kill myself.”

I was not at all surprised to hear it.

I had been stopping by so much because I have now developed a feel for these things.

Once you have four of your closest friends kill themselves, you start looking for signs.

shannonhoon

Can I tell you something that I never told anyone?

Paul killed himself six days after Cole killed herself and during those six days I thought about reaching out to Paul many times, but I didn’t. I didn’t reach out to him because I was in pain and I didn’t want to listen to anyone else’s pain. I just couldn’t subject myself to Paul’s depression, which often triggered my own darkness.

I know intellectually that I can’t blame myself for Paul’s death, but I also know on some level that I may have been able to prevent it. I doubt it. I don’t think my light was very bright during those three days and Paul’s darkness may have been too much for me.

But I wish that I would have tried.

Oh how I wish I had tried.

And now my child has razor blade marks all up and down their arm and they tell me how they feel disconnected and how they “want to disappear” because they feel like they are living in someone else’s body and this chills me to the bone.

Every day I call therapists and try to find one that we can afford and one that also specializes in gender dysphoria, but this is Indiana and there aren’t many resources for transgender children.

But don’t worry.

I won’t give up until we find someone.

The one thing I refuse to do is to give up.

But I don’t begrudge Paul or Cole or Billy or Danny for their choices.

They just went to that extremely dark place I know so well, the place where your mind lies to you and tells you that no one will miss you.

But I do miss them.

I miss them all so much.

I will never stop missing them.

Don’t listen to the darkness.

We all fall on black days.

Things DO get better.

Trust me.

I’m living proof.

heartglasses
Call 1-800-273-8255 if you are thinking about killing yourself. Life’s a painful experience. Of that there can be no doubt. But it can be amazing too. You have to get through the valleys. There is nothing wrong with asking for help.

Hey moron. Thanks for reading my column you stupid looser. I’m surprised some brainwashed MSM-watching sheeple could figure out how to operate a computer or smart-phone. Your so dumb that you probably think Trump colluded with the Russians. Your such a stupid libtard that you don’t even realize that Obama deported more people than Trump. Your opinions are stupid and YOUR stupid. SMDH.

Sound familiar?

Congratulations, you made the mistake of expressing a political opinion on The Internet, where everyone is 100% convinced that they are right 100% of the time.

Oddly enough, I rarely encounter people talking to each other like this in the “real world.” So it begs the question, are people their real selves on the net and just cowards in “real life.” Or is there something about the web that polarizes people and makes them act like angry children?

There’s no need to send me emails letting me know that my opening paragraph is rife with grammar and spelling atrocities. These “errors” are just a few of the insults that have been hurled at yours truly over the last 24 hours.

I have seen these particular mistakes so often, that I have become convinced that there is a strong correlation between not understanding basic contractions like “you’re” and the likelihood that the one who doesn’t understand said contractions will be using them ironically and moronically to insult the intelligence of others.

“Your stupid!!”

“No. YOU’RE stupid.”

“So YOUR calling ME stupid?!?!”

“It’s YOU’RE stupid?”

“I’m not the stupid one. God your such a looser!!”

understanding2

When someone is insulting me for having a differing opinion, I often wonder what they hope to accomplish.

Has there ever been a time in the history of the human existence where one person insulted another’s intelligence and the recipient of said insult said

“You know what? I really am a brainwashed idiot. Thank you for pointing that out. Now I see things your way!!”

It’s doubtful. So I am left to wonder, what is the point of this behavior?

Have we become so bereft of intelligence and humanity that we think that anyone who disagrees with us is subhuman and deserves to be treated poorly? Have we forgotten that on the other end of this exchange that there is another human being who has come to a differing conclusion by taking in and processing different information?

If we are convinced of our own righteousness, shouldn’t we use methods that are likely to deliver the correct information to the misinformed person we are speaking with?

And what about the other person’s humanity?

I have seen people attack others simply for having a different political view, never taking into consideration that the person reading their hateful words more than likely has difficult circumstances in their own life and are perhaps using The Internet to talk to others in hopes of finding distraction from their quiet desperation.

I watched my friend get ripped to shreds on a daily basis from his hospital bed while he was losing (not LOOSING) his battle with cancer. We would tell him to stay off the political forums, because we feared that the stress was accelerating his departure, but it was literally the only thing that provided him respite from the doldrums of spending his final days confined to a hospital bed.

When he died his partner took his phone and typed

“(Name withheld) passed away today. He loved your lively political discussions. It provided him with comfort and entertainment during the final days of his life. Thank you.”

elephant

But let’s forget for a moment the fact that your hateful words could be the final straw for someone hanging by a thread on the opposite end of a fiber-optic cable.

Let me instead attempt to appeal to your pragmatic side.

When you disagree with someone, I assume your goal is to make them see your perspective (which in itself is an act of aggression. Ideally our goal would be to make the other person feel heard and understood, but let’s not ask for the moon here.)

So if your goal is to convince someone that you are right, calling them names and insulting their intelligence is undoubtedly the least likely way to achieve your desired result.

If you actually wanted someone to come around to your perspective you would actually take the opposite approach and try to make the person feel validated. When people feel validated, they tend to like you and when they like you they tend to care about what you have to say.

This can be done quickly and easily by asking a question that summarizes the statement that you disagree with, because when you ask a question it shows you are curious about the person’s point of view and when you are curious it means you care. Furthermore when you sum up the person’s angle inside of your question it proves that you have already been listening.

disagreement-hierarchy (post once in a while)

So maybe you say something like

“So you think Obama was worse than Trump on immigration, due to the fact that he deported more people?”

This is difficult to do.

It requires a suppression of ego.

Many people have a really fragile self-esteem and aren’t willing to entertain the idea that they might actually be wrong.

If our self-esteem is contingent on always being right then we are more likely to lash out at those who disagree with us and even block that person from having a voice. This leads to the creation of an echo-chamber, where only those who believe as we do are allowed to express their thoughts.

Creating an echo-chamber is a guaranteed way to limit our effectiveness, while simultaneously eroding our ability to process information rationally.

like

I am often struck with the awareness that in this world of fake news and alternative facts that otherwise rational actors have become indistinguishable from the religious people whom they often disparage.

I have known many people who have found god and then attempted to convince me that they were now in possession of some great piece of knowledge and if I didn’t read the things that they had read and come to the same conclusions that they did then I was somehow inferior to them.

This is literally the exact same process we see with people trying to force their political views on others.

“Oh you don’t agree? Well read this!!”

Then we read it and are left with more questions than answers and we are attacked for not coming to the same conclusions that the other came to.

We are accused of being willfully ignorant and then the character assassinations begin.

People engaged in heated political discussions are often indistinguishable from religious zealots.

It is no wonder that these exchanges rarely end well.

patrobertson

As Godwin’s Law has been temporarily suspended due to the advent of having an ACTUAL Nazi in the White House, I propose a new law.

We can call it …hmmmm… Sparks’ Law (to be renamed when someone comes up with a better moniker.)

Sparks’ Law states that whenever someone uses name-calling or character assassination (aka ad hominem attacks) during an argument that they have automatically lost the argument and all communication should cease until the time when those in violation of Sparks’ Law admit wrongdoing and can get back on track by summarizing the position of the person or persons that they were debating.

Example:

Person A: You’re being willfully ignorant.

Person B: I’m invoking Sparks’ Law. I’m not going to have this discussion if you are going to attack my motives.

Person A: So you’re going to be a little bitch and run away because you know that I’m right!?

Person B: Sparks’ Law has been invoked. I declare victory in this debate until which time you see fit to calm yourself and stick to the subject without insulting my person.

Three hours later:

Person A: Sorry, I was really upset earlier. Let’s try this again. So your position is that you feel Trump is being unfairly maligned on immigration and your basis for this is that Obama deported more people than Trump has at this point in his presidency?

Person B: Dammit. I thought I had won that one. Now you are going to force me to actually debate it? LOL. Yeah that’s pretty much my point. You disagree?

Person A: Well yeah, I do and here’s my basis for that…

wrongway

I am bookmarking this article and I suggest you do the same.

The next time someone attacks you simply say

“I’m invoking Sparks’ Law.” and drop this link on them and you win.

You win your sanity and you win back the time you were about to waste arguing with someone who doesn’t respect you or the basic rules of debate.

It’s a great tool to let the other person know that you are more than willing to debate the issue with them, but before you do, they must agree to calm down and exercise reason and logic above childish name-calling.

I doubt you will actually use this amazing tool I’ve created for you.

Your probably too much of a stupid looser to even comprehend such a brilliant concept.

dresswithgun
Michael E Sparks is the creator of Sparks’ Law and hundreds of others of ideas that never caught on. If you want to support independent writing you can drop him a dollar by clicking HERE. If he gets enough dollars he will buy himself a new dress.