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.
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.
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
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