First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
A friend of mine stopped by my house recently.
She was scared.
My friend was born male, but now identifies as female.
“I’ve only recently began to be able to walk down the street. I fear that if Donald Trump becomes president, then it will become open season on people like me.”
Our house is a safe haven in the middle of Indiana, a state which is anything but safe for people who are different.
There is a rainbow flag in the window and a Bernie Sanders sign in the yard.
Although my politics fall to the extreme left, I am no idealist.
I believe strongly that we should always attempt to use peaceful means to resolve conflict.
But I know that we must also take extreme measures to insure our freedoms from those who seek to limit them.
I live in the birthplace of the KKK.
It always takes bravery to be one’s self.
But let’s be real.
It takes more bravery to be like my friend than it does to be like me.
My friend is right to be afraid of violence under a Trump presidency.
We’ve seen the rallies and we’ve heard the hate-speech.
“You’ll be okay” I told her “I’ve got your back.”
And then I added…
“Millions of people have your back.”
I live in a state where Mike Pence was the governor.
He passed laws making it legal for businesses to discriminate against members of the LBGT+ community and he passed laws discriminating against a woman’s right to choose.
We worked tirelessly to get a Pathway to Citizenship referendum passed, but our representatives would hide in their offices and refuse to meet with us.
But our problems are not unique to the Midwest.
And Donald Trump has not limited his hate-speech to members of just one community.
He has made hateful comments and threats to members of the Hispanic community, Blacks, Jews, women, Muslims and the differently-abled.
It is my belief that his nomination to the presidency will give rise to hate in America.
It is my belief that bigots of all varieties will feel emboldened by his ignorance and subsequent rise to power.
It is my belief that school-yard bullies and cowards of all stripes will feel that hate is not only acceptable, but rewarded.
What is a small child to think when they see that someone can stand on a podium and make hateful remarks and then this person can be rewarded to the extent that they are made the most powerful person on Earth?
A dangerous precedent has been set…
And it is up to us to fight every battle that will come our way during the next four years.
If you call yourself a Progressive then I am calling on you to prove it each and every time you see discrimination.
I am asking you to be a warrior.
I believe with all my heart that this is the duty of every American.
I’ve been all over this country and met tons of Trump supporters.
By and large they are good people.
Most of them are people who have worked hard their entire lives and they have watched their jobs get shipped overseas by trade agreements that hurt the American people.
Many of them lost their houses to a corrupt banking system and these same people are now paying for the bank bailout.
I want to be careful to not encourage the media’s portrayal of the Trump supporter as a dangerous and armed White Supremacist, but at the same time it is important to point out that some of Trump’s support actually comes from this small segment of our population and these people are potentially very dangerous.
It is our job to speak out when and where we see discrimination.
When I use the phrase A Call to Arms I do not mean that we take up firearms.
I sincerely hope that it will never come to that.
I am speaking instead of a much more effective means of fighting.
I am referring to compassion and activism.
I am asking everyone who reads this to be an ally every day in every way that life presents to you.
And I am asking you to look for new opportunities to be brave in a world that is often hostile.
Most of you reading this are more than likely already doing amazing things in your communities.
I applaud you and ask that you hold these questions in the front of your mind…
“What can I do to help the cause of equality?”
“What can I do to make the world a better place?”
In the past year we have learned, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that our country has a long way to go to reach equality for all of its citizens.
Some might view Trump’s election and candidacy as a setback to this cause.
Perhaps it is.
But at least the hatred is out in the open now.
Now we know what we are dealing with.
It is the duty of all good people to go above and beyond.
When millions of people stand together..
By signing in the comments below and sharing this article with a friend you agree to do the following, as well as millions of other creative acts of kindness.
I promise to smile and speak to people.
I promise to feed those who are hungry.
I promise to speak out against discrimination anywhere and everywhere I see it.
I promise to fight any and all legislation that attempts to legalize hate.
I solemnly swear to defend women’s reproductive rights.
I promise to comfort victims.
I will attend rallies and protests for minority and women’s rights.
I will compassionately educate those with small minds.
I will listen to people and consider their points of view.
I will be slow to anger and quick to forgive.
I will not name-call, fat shame, slut-shame or engage in any other form of discrimination against people based on religion (or lack thereof), appearance or ethnicity.
I will abstain from supporting corporations that do not promote Progressive values.
I will do anonymous good deeds and random acts of kindness.
I will call and write my elected officials and tell them what legislation is important to me.
I will rally people together to vote out politicians who do not support my values.
I will be kind to animals and children.
I will assist the disabled and the elderly.
I will fight for a pathway to citizenship, so that all people who want to truly “make America great again” can come and contribute to our society.
I will treat those in the service industry with kindness and respect.
I will make eye contact and ask people how their day is.
I will listen.
I will fight against pre-programmed knee-jerk reactions.
I will love people.
Not just those who are easy to love…
But all people.
I will make the world a better place.
I will be an ally to anyone who needs it.
I want to make this page a place where people can celebrate compassion and diversity.
I want to encourage people to come here and share stories of times when you stood up for something good.
Don’t look at it as bragging.
It helps people to be able to read your stories.
It inspires them to take their own giant steps.
It inspires others to be brave.
Thank you for participating in my project.
Love to you all.
Michael is an activist, an ally and an independent writer. If you believe in his work and his mission you can support it by donating $1 HERE. He will probably use it to create a sign for a protest or some other crazy liberal activity.
JANE SANDERS NEVER SAID NOT TO WRITE IN BERNIE SANDERS.
WE WERE FED MISINFORMATION FROM SOMEONE WHO HAD INFILTRATED OUR RANKS AND GAINED OUR TRUST.
THE VERMONT BERNIE SANDERS WRITE-IN IS STILL ON AND WE ENCOURAGE ALL PEOPLE WHO ARE UNHAPPY WITH THEIR BALLOT CHOICES TO WRITE-IN BERNIE SANDERS NAME AS A MEANS OF PROTESTING THIS RIGGED ELECTION.
Here is the original story, with the false quote removed.
It’s a chilly overcast day here in Indiana and I just received some news that was kind of devastating.
And just to be clear, it was politically devastating, not REAL LIFE devastating.
Everyone in our home is happy and healthy, as we all grope along slowly, trying to deal with the craziness that life throws at us from day-to-day.
My family is giving me a lot of space.
Occasionally Carrie comes up to me and squeezes my shoulder and then drifts away.
They know how I am.
They know how personally I take all of this.
I drove to the coffee shop with my laptop and sat down to break the news, tears resting just behind my eyes.
My lap-top is covered in “Ask me about Bernie Sanders” stickers.
As I opened it up, a little black boy came up to me, maybe 10 years old and said..
“I’m mad about Bernie!!”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I’m mad that he’s not in the election anymore. I love Bernie Sanders. I’m mad about it!!”
As I fought back tears, I was able to choke out an ironic smile, swallow hard and find the words..
“I’m mad too.” I said.
I was hesitant to tell you about the little kid, because it sounds made up, but that really happened to me, just now, sitting here in Indiana and I know it’s politically incorrect to point out that the kid was black, but that’s relevant to me for a million tiny reasons.
Because wasn’t that one of the lies they told about Bernie?
They said that black people didn’t like him.
They said it was just a bunch of young white kids and that our movement wasn’t real.
So when a little black boy in Indiana comes up to me and says that he is “Mad about Bernie.” it means something to me.
It’s why I scrapped the entire opening to this article and just wrote down what happened instead.
Because “I’m mad about Bernie.” too.
I’m really incredibly angry about it.
And it sucks to see our voices taken from us.
And it sucks to see our movement divided and watered down.
And it sucks to be told a million times a day that I should vote for Hillary Clinton because that’s what Bernie asked me to do or that I should “grow a spine” and vote for Jill Stein because she has a “similar platform”, never mind that one candidate cheated millions of people who I care about out of a fair election and the other is running a campaign that is simply not very organized and not nearly as effective as it could have been.
But all of that will shake out on November 8 and I still have not even begun to explain why my heart is spinning at 33 1/3 rpm today…
Today we were headed to Vermont to canvass for Bernie Sanders.
A few weeks ago I wrote a quirky little article about how Bernie Sanders could win Vermont and theoretically throw the election into the House of Representatives, force a second round of voting and then have the new House vote him in to become the President of the United States.
My article just called people to action and the idea spread more rapidly than I ever thought possible.
I did a lot of research before I wrote the article and if you understand the intricacies of how the House would have most-likely voted, you would have seen that Sanders had a way better chance of winning this way, than I initially stated.
I’m incredibly honored that so many people read the article.
My goal is to be an activist writer.
I want to develop a large enough group that we can direct our legions correcting the injustices we see in our country.
I want the establishment to fear our collective voice.
I want to carry on Sanders’ movement through collective activism and apparently it’s working, because in between the thousands of people telling us we could never do it, other people started to actually volunteer.
We worked hard behind the scenes in hidden Internet groups, screening out potential saboteurs and checking people’s past volunteering to see if they were legitimate.
We were actually concerned about the Clinton campaign finding out about our movement and trying to block it. In fact there were a few people who contacted us asking questions, pretending to be volunteers, that actually worked for the Democratic Party.
It was pretty exciting, being in a secret underground movement, but also it produced a lot of anxiety.
On top of dealing with fears of Clinton sabotaging our efforts, we were getting tons of anger from Jill Stein supporters, which was really frustrating seems how we ARE(!!) Jill Stein supporters and our movement’s official position was to encourage people to vote Stein in every state but Vermont, a state with only a few hundred thousand voters, specifically targeted as to NOT interfere with our goal to get Jill to 5% nationally, so the Green Party would get federal funding in the next election cycle!!!
We were getting attacked from all sides, which of course meant that we were actually onto something, but it was also very stressful.
But we ventured forth, thanks to our incredible team of volunteers.
We actually developed a cool little system where we would coordinate traveling canvassers with Vermont residents for shelter, someone wrote a phone-banking program that was just as good as the one we used on Bernie’s site and imported every phone-number in Vermont into it…
And PEOPLE WERE ACTUALLY PHONE-BANKING!!!
We had an amazing canvassing coordinator on the ground in Burlington and others en route from around the country to help knock on doors.
We even had The Washington Post flying into Burlington to write a story about our initiative.
We had well-written, simple to understand, literature to pass out to people and most importantly we had an incredibly high success rate of voter conversion.
40% of the people we spoke to in Vermont preferred writing-in Bernie Sanders over voting for any other candidate!!
Our movement was peaking at just the right time.
Our goal was to get the population converted in the last week before the election, so that the Clinton campaign wouldn’t have time to react.
Everything was perfect!!
Except for one thing..
Bernie didn’t want it.
He told us so.
And although I am rebelling against Bernie in my refusal to vote for Hillary Clinton, I really don’t feel comfortable showing up in his back yard and pissing him off.
If Bernie Sanders yelled at me, I’m pretty sure I would burst into tears.
To be honest, Bernie didn’t tell us.
It was Jane who told us that Bernie doesn’t want this.
Our canvassing trainer has been close friends with Bernie and Jane for her entire life.
So even though she was out canvassing with her team and getting positive responses, in her heart, a feeling of dread was growing.
“What if Bernie didn’t appreciate what we were doing? What if her lifetime friend became upset with her over our ‘gift’?”
Last week, she shared these fears with me and said that she wanted to talk to Bernie about this before we went any further.
I told her that Bernie would be forced to stand against our movement, due to his position with the DNC and I asked her if she would be willing to speak with Jane Sanders instead.
She agreed and headed over to visit Jane on Sunday afternoon, as I sat here in Indianapolis, with my traveling canvassing crew (my poor kids and my incredibly patient girlfriend) waiting to hear if we were hitting the road or not.
Here is what she said…
(THIS SECTION HAS BEEN REMOVED. PREVIOUSLY THIS WAS A SUMMATION OF A MESSAGE THAT OUR CANVASSING COORDINATOR, NICOLE GUERIN IN VERMONT HAD SENT ME THAT BASICALLY SAID THAT JANE SANDERS WAS ASKING US TO STOP OUR WRITE-IN CAMPAIGN FOR BERNIE SANDERS.
JANE SANDERS HAS SINCE TWEETED AND DENIED THAT THIS CONVERSATION EVER HAPPENED!!
I APOLOGIZE TO JANE FOR OUR SOURCE BEING INCORRECT.
I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT IS GOING ON AT THIS TIME.
AS EVENT COME TO LIGHT OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS AND WE FIND OUT MORE, ALL WILL BE REVEALED.
AT THIS TIME IT SEEMS THAT OUR ORGANIZATION WAS INFILTRATED BY THE MEMBER OF A RIVAL CANDIDATE IN AN ATTEMPT TO SABOTAGE OUR WRITE-IN CAMPAIGN.
WE WILL KNOW MORE IN THE COMING DAYS.)
So that’s that.
We offered a gift that is not wanted.
We are trying to force something that is not there.
We are misguided in our efforts.
I’ve had so much anxiety about traveling to Vermont.
All these canvassing trips we made in the past year scared the hell out of me and I thought we were done with it.
I was hoping to move into the acceptance phase of my grief and here I was heading out to canvass for Bernie one last time, reopening the wound.
But he doesn’t want it.
At a certain point I have to accept that I am just a crazy person when the very person I’m fighting for tells me that my methods are not a good idea.
Activism without proper guidance is destructive.
The road to hell being paved with good intentions and all..
So we unloaded the car.
We aren’t going to Vermont.
Everyone is relieved and sad.
Because this is more than just the end of our crazy little movement.
This is the end of the denial phase of my grief.
Bernie Sanders isn’t going to be President and “I’m mad about it.”
But I’m also incredibly sad about it and I know that you are too.
Or maybe you are of the mindset that Jill Stein will save us.
I’m envious of you if you believe that.
I once believed it too.
But those feelings will have to be addressed in another article.
For now, I will just say that I really think you should vote for Jill Stein if you believe in her platform.
And if you really want to write Bernie in, then it’s your vote.
But he would prefer that you didn’t.
And whomever you vote for, I beg you to stop fighting with others who see things differently from you.
The woman who picks up my kids for school every morning is voting for Hillary Clinton.
We have a system.
She drops them off in the morning.
I pick them up in the afternoon.
It saves both of us money and it lessens our carbon footprint.
Because, you know, we care about those things, being as we are both liberals and all.
Did I mention that this woman is voting for Hillary Clinton?
And I don’t trust just anyone with my kids.
My friend is incredibly trustworthy.
She’s an awesome human being and I care very deeply about her.
We’ve been close for a long time.
We watched each other’s kids grow up.
She’s like a member of my family and I’m like a member of hers.
I love my friend.
Did I mention that she is voting for Hillary Clinton?
Yeah. I know, right? What’s up with that?
I mean, how can you be a decent human being and support someone who is pure evil?
I was wondering that as well.
So I asked her.
You might imagine that my friend was once a Bernie supporter and now she is following Sanders’ request to vote for Hillary to defeat the evil Donald Trump.
You might imagine that she is “holding her nose and voting for Hillary”.
You might imagine that, being as she is such a close friend of mine, that she actually hates Hillary Clinton, but is just falling on the grenade to keep the Supreme Court from being all up in her uterus for the next 40 years.
You’d be wrong.
She’s freaking crazy about Hillary Clinton!!
My friend works for the government and has been following Clinton for years.
When she lived in D.C. she actually met Hillary and shook her hand.
She has a Hillary sign in her front yard!!
She used to hide it when I came over, but then I told her…
“I don’t hide my Bernie sign. You don’t need to hide your Hillary sign.”
Before our state’s primary (which Bernie won) I made several efforts to speak with my friend about Bernie Sanders, but she became upset each time and for a while she stopped speaking to me altogether.
That was probably for the best.
It probably saved our friendship.
I’m kind of radical about Bernie Sanders.
After Bernie dropped out and endorsed Hillary (GRRRRR!!!), I asked her if she was ready to have The Talk, the talk that ALL Sanders supporters must have with their Hillary friend(s) if there is any hope of the friendship returning to its previous form.
There are YUGE fundamental differences between Sanders supporters and Clinton supporters.
I can be friends with anyone, but if you vote for Hillary Clinton, then there is always going to be an elephant (or a donkey) in the room of our friendship and we are going to have to talk about it.
Because on the surface it would seem that I am in support of universal healthcare and you oppose it and the idea that poor people don’t deserve the same rights as the wealthy is deeply offensive to me.
Without sitting down with you, I would probably never be able to understand how you support fracking, when I am so radically opposed to it.
I’m going to need to hear your thoughts on this.
As a Clinton supporter, I would gather that you support big corporations running our government and I am violently in opposition to this above all, so I’d like to hear your reasoning on that subject as well.
Also, I’d love to hear your thinking on why you believe that it’s okay to lie to the American people repeatedly and hide your Wall Street transcripts, because I know that you are a super-smart person and I’ve always thought of you as extremely ethical.
And I know that you don’t want to see our children murdered in some billionaire’s war, so why is it that you support a candidate who wants to install a no-fly zone over Syria, a move that will likely lead to war with Russia.
I mean, you knew about all these things, right?
You have the Internet and know how to use a search engine, right?
And you actually want to know the policies of the person you are voting for, right?
I don’t want to overwhelm you.
I’ve got literally hundreds of concerns about your candidate and I need to know how you can feel good about voting for a woman who takes millions from the fossil-fuel industry and has no real plan to deal with climate change.
So can we talk?
Because right now, I’m feeling like I don’t even know you.
And I’d hate to let something as trivial as the fate of the entire world come between us.
Like I said, my friend is awesome.
She invited me over..
She was very cordial…
She poured the wine..
And we talked.
My friend agreed that healthcare is a right, not a privilege.
“So why didn’t you vote for Bernie?” I asked.
“Because Hillary is fighting for universal healthcare too.”
“No, she isn’t! In fact she said that it would NEVER happen!”
“She NEVER said that!”
I obnoxiously pulled out my phone and showed her the video.
“Well it must be out of context. Hillary would NEVER say that. Look, my main reason for supporting Hillary is that she supports equality for women. Women do not get equal pay and Hillary will address that, as well as other important women’s issues.”
I thought about bringing up Berta Caceres and other women who died as a result of Hillary’s foreign policy.
I thought about Jill Stein’s brilliant argument that when you make things harder on poor people, that you disproportionately hurt women.
I thought about Camille Paglia‘s points about how Hillary is anti-feminist and Bernie Sanders is a true feminist.
Finally I said…
“Then why did she pay her female employees .72 on the dollar compared to her male employees when she was Secretary of State?”
“No she DID NOT!!” my friend exclaimed.
“Would you like to see the evidence?”
“No, because it never happened.”
“It will take me five seconds.”
“I’ll research it on my own.”
“Will you?” I asked.
“No. Because it never happened.” she said.
We moved on to discussing TPP.
“Oh yeah! Hillary’s against that!” my friend said.
“She co-wrote it and toured the world selling it to other countries!!”
“But then she realized that it was a bad trade agreement and she came out against it.”
“Publicly, she did, but there are emails showing her pressuring Democratic Congressional members to pass it and then Obama sealed the emails, but I have the articles. Would you like to see them?”
“I don’t believe that, Michael.” she said exasperated.
“Well I have proof. Would you like to see it?”
“I’ll look it up on my own sometime.”
“Well you won’t find it on corporate media. Obama sealed the emails.”
“I just don’t believe that, Michael.”
“Okay fine. A year from now, when she is trying to push it through, I’m coming over.”
“Fine. You do that.”
“Good for you.”
“Bad for America. I won’t be happy when I’m right.”
The conversation went on like this for a while.
I talked policy and my friend agreed that Bernie’s policy was perfect, but then told me that Hillary supported the same policy.
When I tried to show her evidence that this was not true, she had no interest in looking at it.
She repeatedly regaled me with stories of how Hillary had overcome tough obstacles in her life.
There was the time when Bill had ran for some office and lost and became depressed and wasn’t bringing home any income, so Hillary had to take a job she didn’t like to support Chelsea.
It was as if she thought Hillary was waiting tables during the day and pole-dancing at night.
She truly believed that Hillary Clinton was some kind of rags to riches story.
To her, Hillary was the American dream wrapped in a pantsuit.
“Where did you get these stories?” I asked.
“Oh, I read her book.” she said.
“Oh, okay.” I said.
And there we sat, wasting time, speaking different languages.
I get my news from The Intercept and The Guardian.
She gets hers from CNN.
There was no Lexis…no common ground.
She thinks I’m a Bernie-bro and I think she is uninformed.
What it really comes down to is that my friend sees herself in Hillary Clinton and that’s why she voted for her and will do so again and no amount of inconvenient facts will deter her.
It’s more about identity politics, than policy and there is some kind of sorting device that rest just inside the ear of the Hillary Clinton supporter that takes all criticisms against her and files them into one of two categories.
Either they are right-wing conspiracies designed to take down this model of feminism or Hillary actually did it, but “sometimes women just have to do things that they don’t want to for the greater good.”
With this line of thinking, Clinton is always the hero or the victim.
She has fostered some kind of faux feminism that pulls in angry women of a certain age, who feel like they have lived similar lives.
Never mind that Clinton wouldn’t throw her Fiji water on my friend if she were on fire.
My friend is convinced that Hillary’s fake victory is somehow HER victory.
Just as your ignorant, racist uncle has been duped into believing that billionaire, Donald Trump truly understands his problems, millions of mildly annoyed suburban women will proudly march into the voting booth and fill in that little oval unknowingly supporting genocide abroad and feel like they are true feminists.
And while I love my friend and would do anything for her, I probably won’t ever completely get over this.
Every time I see Hillary ship more young people off to die and murder the innocent for financial gain, I will think of my friend.
When I see trade agreements pass that will continue to destroy the middle-class and ship American jobs overseas, I will think of my friend.
And each time I see Hillary lie, I will think about how my friend is eating up that lie and enjoying it, because it makes her feel good about the choice she made to support women everywhere.
Alas, despite differences in politics, I am grateful for my friend.
I am grateful for the insight she gives me into the mind of the Hillary Clinton supporter.
She’s a really good person.
It’s just that she has chosen to stay ignorant on this one subject that is very important to me.
And considering how miserable this entire election has been..
I almost wish that I had chosen that path as well.
Some asshole stole my Bernie Sanders yard sign last night.
That’s number eight.
I’ve got one more around somewhere.
I used to have a trunk full of them.
I would knock on your door, some crazy forty-year old guy, with shaggy hair..
You’d tell me that you were planning to vote for Hillary Clinton, we’d talk for 15 or 20 minutes and at the end of our conversation, I’d get one of those signs out of my trunk and we’d plant it in your yard and you’d be excited about it.
I take no credit for this.
It wasn’t like I was some great salesman.
I just memorized the facts and had a conversation and my new friend just came to the logical conclusion that Bernie Sanders was a much better candidate than Hillary Clinton on every level.
In fact, once you had heard the gospel according to Bernie Sanders, you were kind of embarrassed that you had ever even considered voting for Sillary.
If I was at all effective in converting souls to Sanders, it was because of the religious-type fervor I felt for the absolute righteousness of Sanders unflappible ethics, which filled my body with energy that radiated from my eyes, like that of a newly baptized person born in the deep South.
And yet I was an atheist.
I gave so many of those signs away…
And now I have one left..
Tucked away in a closet somewhere.
I will find it and plant it in the yard as a monument to my stubbornness and my absolute refusal to quit.
And when they steal this one, there will be no more.
We will have to go back to making them, like we did before the campaign centers opened and the website took weeks to ship them…
Carrie would take old political campaign signs, turn them inside out, and spray-paint over a Bernie stencil she made.
She would hand them out at debate parties.
Our house was full of amazing new people for a solid year.
What an odd turn of events for me, the paranoid, who didn’t really like people, to fall in love with so many strangers.
What a beautiful thing for people to open their homes to my children and I, to feed us, to provide us a place to rest, all because we had one incredible thing in common.
Perhaps the sign-thief was trying to help me move on.
Perhaps it was a misguided gesture of compassion.
Maybe it was some ignorant Trump supporter who thinks that Democratic Socialism means that you can take whatever you want from whoever you want, so he thought he was being witty by teaching me a lesson, when I already knew that the world was full of overconfident morons with boundary issues, so no lesson was learned.
Or possibly, it was a Hillary Clinton supporter who was eaten up with guilt each day, as they drove past my sign and were reminded of how their choice to be WITH HER was condoning lying and cheating and murder and everything else that is bullshit in this awful/awesome world and my sign reminded them that supporting this cheater of Democracy meant they didn’t have the moral authority on any issue, ever again, for the rest of their FUCKING LIFE!!!
Or perhaps the wind blew it away…I don’t know.
But I’ve got another one.
And I’m going to put it out tomorrow morning.
Because I’m completely in denial and I plan to stay that way for the rest of my life.
I refuse to accept that the world is a shit-hole.
I refuse to accept that evil wins.
I’m going to be 80 years old and still have some form of Bernie Sanders sign in my yard and the kids in the neighborhood will call me Old Man Sanders and tell legends about me.
And I will do things to encourage the legends, even though I’ll still be like a super-nice guy and all..
But I won’t want to disappoint them, so I’ll play screaming sounds out of speakers in my basement and let spider-webs grow all over my house…maybe wear an eye-patch…I don’t know, but whatever kind of stuff creepy old guys that live in haunted houses in the year 2053 do, that’s the kind of stuff I’ll do.
The kids will dare each other to steal my Bernie Sanders yard sign and each time they do, I will make an even scarier looking Bernie sign and one of the kids will double-down on the dare and say that “if you sleep with the stolen sign under your mattress then Old Man Sanders will appear at the foot of your bed…”
Then another kid will say..
“You guys are stupid. The man who lives in that house isn’t named Bernie Sanders. He just likes Bernie Sanders. Don’t you guys ever read cyber-books on your ocular implant?! You know the way our world is today? With the flying cars and no war and everybody being fed and loved and living to be 500 years old and terraforming other planets and bending space/time and with statues of Neil Degrasse Tyson, Bill Nye and Carl Sagan everywhere? Bernie Sanders was the guy who started all that. Before Bernie Sanders human beings were tore up from the floor up.”
And yeah, in the future, kids are going to say “tore up from the floor up.”
I know that no one has said that in like ten years, but it’s going to come back in a YUGE way in like forty-years, so remember that I predicted that.
So anyway, I’m putting a new sign up.
To remind me and everyone else who sees it..
That this isn’t over.
With the latest insanity surrounding Hillary Clinton, involving her collapsing symbolically at a 9/11 memorial, I am reminded of how seriously fed up I have become with her sham of a campaign.
While corporate media focuses on an orange gnome with zero government experience, the rest of us are being force-fed a corporate, warmongering shill and we are supposed to be happy about it, just because she is “not Donald Trump”.
I honestly have tried to find something redeeming in the shit sandwich of her impending Presidency.
I have defended Hillary from time to time.
I agree with the assessment of her supporters, that she is better than Donald Trump, but without an ounce of facetiousness, I can say confidently that my dog, Butch, is a better candidate than Donald Trump.
Butch might relieve himself in the Oval Office, but at least he wouldn’t start a nuclear war.
I asked Butch about building a wall and forcing Mexico to pay for it and he just turned his head to one side, spun around in a circle three times and laid down.
As bad as Trump is, Hillary seems to be working overtime to prove she is nearly as pathetic.
Hiding medical problems from the American people, especially something as serious as neurological disorder, is just too much.
Is it unreasonable to ask that our candidates release their current medical records and have a psychiatric evaluation at least bi-annually?
Shouldn’t that be absolutely mandatory for anyone seeking to be in charge of the world’s most powerful military?
What difference does it make, right?
What fucking difference does it make?
I understand that Hillary is the choice of the establishment.
I know they have billions of dollars on the line.
I know they invested hundreds of millions to get her appointed into a position of power so that they could recoup their money 100 fold.
I know how this whole sham works, but seriously corporate America, do you have to make it so obvious?
For nearly a year she has hidden from the very people she is supposed to represent.
If only Hillary had chosen a decent running mate, then I would possibly feel confident, as it seems highly unlikely that she would even be able to complete her term.
But Tim Kaine?!
Uh, just no.
I am all for our country FINALLY having a female President, but at what cost?
Your campaign has become insulting to our intelligence.
Never mind that you have shown zero ability to be a decent leader.
Never mind that you can barely stand up unassisted.
Never mind that we are in desperate need of true leadership in our country’s most dire hour.
As much as we fear the idea of Donald Trump being President, you HAVE to let the people who vote for you keep their dignity.
When you repeatedly insult us, you make that impossible.
You honestly expect us to believe that you didn’t know “C” stood for classified?
You want us to buy into the lie that you are “looking into” releasing your Wall Street transcripts for 224 days now?
And I’m sick of hearing about Trump, every time I ask a legitimate question regarding one of Clinton’s glaring flaws.
If I ask about the Wall Street transcripts then I want to talk about YOUR WALL STREET TRANSCRIPTS!!!
Saying “Trump did not release his tax returns.” is not a suitable response.
My kids know that blaming their siblings for their wrongdoings is unacceptable.
Should I expect less from my President than I do from my children?
Given Trump as the alternative, I was willing to forgive a lot.
But Hillary, you simply ask too much.
For someone who so rarely speaks publicly, you certainly seem to put your foot in your mouth a lot.
Hillary, we do not “bring people to heel.”
We do not laugh at murder and say “We Came. We Saw. He died.”
We do not, under ANY circumstances, speak of political assassination as a way of winning a nomination.
We do not “land under Bosnian sniper-fire”, trivializing the heroes who actually have to face this real-life death from above.
Considering that the orange menace was my alternative, I was honestly willing to move on, if you were just willing to take some damned accountability and learn from your mistakes, but this campaign you took the dishonesty to a new level.
You can lie to the FBI and Congress and apparently they will give you a pass, but the American people WILL NOT!!
It would have been nice if you would have used this last 18 months to do something redeeming, so at the very least I could lie to myself and say that you had learned some valuable lessons and were trying now.
But you don’t try.
You take us for granted and we are beyond tired of your lies.
We are Charlie Brown and you are Lucy and we are done trying to kick the football.
We are done trusting you, only to land flat on our backs.
This has gone far enough.
You are clearly incapable of handling even the simplest task without mucking it up beyond all recognition.
You cannot appoint people to high-positions in our government in exchange for donations.
You cannot set up a charitable foundation and then donate the money to YOURSELF!!
Hillary Clinton, you are simply not a decent human being and I cannot vote for you.
You have burned all the bridges.
All you had to do was just be open and honest and you would have had my reluctant support, simply because you are, as you often remind us, not quite as bad as Trump.
But you couldn’t do that.
You could not treat us with basic human dignity.
You could not give us that which all humans inherently deserve.
Chloe has always been a force.
She came into the world ahead of schedule and tried to exit immediately.
The first three days of her life she spent in the Intensive Care Unit with a myriad of health issues.
Dozing off next to the incubator, I felt a tap on my shoulder…
“Hey. I want you to go home and get some sleep.”
White light flooded my eyes.
There was a white figure eclipsing the light.
Perhaps an angel…
Perhaps a doctor..
Those with sick children know that there is no difference.
“And then when I wake up, we can take her home?” I asked.
“I don’t want to get your hopes up.” Doctor Angel said.
I took a cab home that I couldn’t afford.
It was my birthday.
As I fell asleep I said aloud
“All I want for my birthday is for Chloe to be well.”
I awoke late that night to my grandmother banging on my door.
“The hospital keeps calling. They need you there as soon as possible.”
I arrived at the hospital, not to what I had feared, but instead to Dr. Angel telling me that Chloe was doing great.
“I’ve never seen anything like it.” he said.
Or at least I remember him saying that.
I have played that movie in my head so many times that I think I might have worn it out.
Perhaps the original memory got used up and my brain wrote a more cinematic one in its place.
Maybe I just saw a doctor say that in a movie on one of those sleepless nights all parents experience when they bring their baby home.
I don’t know.
But I like my Dr. Angel memory and we got to bring Chloe home the next day.
Chloe was outstanding at everything.
When she was three, I tried to show her how to play Jacks (you know the game where you bounce the little ball and then try to pick up as many of the little thingies as you can in one swipe of your hand and then catch the ball in the same hand?) and she grabbed all six Jacks on her first try and then caught the ball and said…
“Is that it? Did I do it right?”
“I’ve never seen anyone get all six of them!!” I yelled.
“It’s easy.” she said and did it again.
“I think you might be a mutant.” I told her.
Even her fails were spectacular (in fairness this was actually MY fail).
Like when she was eighteen months old and got into her grandmother’s purse and swallowed an entire bottle of pills in the time it took me to use the restroom.
I had taken an infant CPR class a few weeks earlier and had really paid attention, because I feared I might have to use it someday.
I grabbed Chloe by the back of her neck, inserted my finger into the back of her throat, made a hook-shape with it and dragged forward across the tongue.
About 30 pills came out.
“How many pills were in that bottle?!!” I screamed as if it mattered.
Even a single pill might make a baby very ill or worse.
I ran to the driveway, put Chloe in the car-seat and drove carefully, but quickly to the hospital with the bottle in my hoodie pocket.
I kept trying to keep her conscious as she had a tendency to fall asleep in the car.
I kept smiling and singing songs with her.
I didn’t want her to be afraid.
I kept pulling up to red lights, looking both ways and going through them.
A cop flashed his lights behind me.
We were almost there.
He gave chase to the hospital.
I jumped out and he met me by the back of my car, his hand on his belt.
“I’m sorry, officer!! My child swallowed pills and is dying. I need your help!!”
“Come on!!” he replied and lead us inside screaming the words “We have an OD’d child!!”
I had Chloe in one arm and the empty pill bottle in my hand.
“She swallowed these!!” I said.
They grabbed her and everything became a blur.
They treated her.
They pulled me aside and told me that they don’t know how much of my grandmother’s heart medicine got into her bloodstream, but if it was enough, it could cause Chloe to go into cardiac arrest.
They kept her for observation overnight.
I sat there stroking her hair, making up stories about Elmo and Scooby Doo.
She kept breathing.
Self-recrimination consumed me.
She had fought so hard just to live and my negligence had nearly killed her.
I was going to lose custody and I deserved to.
There were a lot of interviews.
They were way too nice to me.
“It happens all the time.” they said.
“It could happen to anyone.” they said.
I took her home and waited for them to come and take her from me for the next several years.
They never came.
(Writer’s Note: You can skip this section, as it is another section in which I brag about how awesome Chloe is. Skip to the next section for the wrap-up.)
Then there was the year that I forced Chloe to play baseball.
Actually it was her idea to start, but after striking out the first 30 or so times up to bat, she decided that baseball was boring and wanted to quit.
Having some strange idea that parenting had something to do with teaching kids to overcome obstacles, instead of letting her quit, I forced her to take batting practice with me pitching to her every day.
She couldn’t even hit my pitches from six feet away.
No matter how slow I pitched, she would swing wildly, missing it by several inches.
One of the parents kept stats for all the kids and going into the last inning of the last game, Chloe had batted something like 92 times and had struck out literally every single time.
And then of course, as fate would have it, with two outs in the last inning of the final game, with the bases loaded, Chloe was up to bat with her team down by three runs.
The entire game rested on her tiny shoulders.
I pulled the coach aside and told him that I would not be at all offended if he let someone else bat for her.
Our teams best player, an eight year old who looked like a twelve-year-old, came up to join the conversation.
“Let Chloe hit.” he said selflessly and begin clapping his hands and saying “GO CHLOE!!!” in an attempt to get the other kids to cheer for her.
The parents joined in with their own cheers.
The kids on the other team, moved up really close, to where the outfielders were pretty much on the infield and the infielders were only about 10 feet away from where Chloe stood with her tiny bat.
They started chanting “HEY BATTER-BATTER-BATTER!!”, a chant I had always hated.
Chloe’s coach tossed the ball softly towards the plate (in pee-wee leagues the coach is usually the pitcher) and she swung and missed.
She missed badly on the second pitch as well.
“Keep your eyes open, Chloe!!” I reminded her.
She always closed her eyes when she swung and she always swung so hard.
The chants of “EASY OUT!! EASY OUT!!” rang in my ears and I wondered what kind of long-term damage I had done to my kid by forcing them to play this ridiculous game that they had no chance of succeeding at.
I envisioned a thousand negative images of Chloe’s doomed adulthood and at the end of each mental movie I imagined her saying..
“IT’S BECAUSE I STRUCK OUT 93 TIMES WHEN I WAS FIVE!!!”
Just as I was imagining rescuing a 20-something Chloe from a crack-house, I heard a “CLINK”, the unmistakable sound of a baseball hitting a metal bat, followed quickly by the image of a ball rolling past the pitcher’s mound and past the second baseman, who was so arrogant that he had been standing right next to the pitcher, mocking Chloe’s inability to make contact.
The ball rolled past the center-fielder, who was standing right next to second base with his glove off, figuring that Chloe wouldn’t be able to hit it very far should she be able to hit it at all.
The ball was hit well.
The ball rolled past everyone on the other team.
The ball was tired of its diamond life.
It was escaping.
It was running through grass, being pursued by giants.
It was Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption.
It was Thelma and Louise.
It was Forrest Fucking Gump!!!
The entire crowd shared an audible gasp, then suddenly, like birds in flight, they all shifted together to tell Chloe to “RUN!!!!!”
She had never hit the ball before.
She didn’t know what to do next.
She took a doubtful step towards the pitcher’s mound, where the coach ran towards her, pointed at first base and said “THAT WAY!!”
She took off like a tiny rocket.
Chloe reached first base and stood there proudly, hand on her hips, smiling.
The ball hit the fence and stopped rolling as the parents raced from the bleachers and pointed in unison for Chloe to “RUN THAT WAY!!!” towards second base.
By the time she arrived at second, all three runners had crossed the plate, tying the game and the rest of her team had ran out of the dugout and were standing behind third base screaming for Chloe to “COME THIS WAY!!!”
As the center-fielder slipped and fell, trying to pick up the ball, Chloe was rounding third and by the time he had overthrown the cut-off man, Chloe was standing at home plate being mobbed by teammates and parents.
I’d be doubting that memory too, if so many people hadn’t been there to witness it.
Even now, ten years later, I will see one of those parents and they will say
“Remember that time Chloe got the game winning hit?”
I’ll smile and nod, but what I really remember is Chloe asking on the way home..
“Does this mean that I don’t have to play baseball anymore?”
We all think our kids are special, because in fact, all kids are special.
I could go on for days with stories about what it was like to be a single-dad, raising a daughter in a conservative state, without any child support or extended family.
Perhaps some day, I’ll write a novel about our adventures, but for the purposes of this article, I just wanted to share a few stories about how miraculous my child is, so that you might grasp in the tiniest way, why I did not give one actual fuck when Chloe pulled me aside a month ago and nervously told me that she wanted to be called Aaron and wanted to be referred to as “he” and not “she” from now on.
I hope you can understand how this news had ZERO effect on my feelings about my son and how I immediately made the transition and it wasn’t even the tiniest bit difficult for me.
I want to convey completely that if my parenting were an animal, that it would be a honey badger, because not one fuck was given on my part.
My only response was to hug Aaron and remind him for the ten millionth time that I loved him unconditionally.
If I raised my arms out as wide as I could, that would not begin to emphasize how fucking proud I am of my child, regardless of what gender(s) they identify as or what gender(s) they are attracted to.
If I pushed my thumb and middle-finger very tightly together, I could not begin to show you how little my ego is tied up into my child’s gender identity.
When Aaron told me that he wanted a binder and informed me that a binder was an article of clothing that pushes breasts down, so that the wearer can pass as a boy, I asked only if binders were safe and read a few articles on them.
Once I was convinced that they were safe, I completely supported Aaron’s wearing of binders.
I cannot stress how little it bothers me that Chloe is now Aaron.
If shits given were rain, this parent would be in the desert.
If my concern for this were an algebra problem and how much I cared were an unknown integer, then you could multiply any number by that integer and get zero.
It would look something like this…
9736 x MC = 0
8,403,976 x MC =0
Okay, these comparisons are starting to become pretty abstract, but I REALLY want to stress to you that my child’s gender identity does not affect my love and support for my child in the least.
And I apologize if you are offended by profanity.
I am incredibly offended by bigotry and I really felt that these words could accentuate that point for me.
Some might suggest that teenagers are capricious and that this may be “just a phase”.
Doesn’t matter AT ALL!!
My support is 100% behind my child.
To me this seems like the only possible way to receive the news.
But I have heard nightmarish stories of parents not taking this kind of thing well.
I have heard stories of parents telling their children that they refuse to respect their wishes and boundaries.
I have heard stories of parents who throw their children out on the street.
I have heard stories of parents shaming their child for trying to be their true self.
(Writer’s Note: Unless you are the parent of a transgender child, then you can stop reading now. The story is over for you. The remainder of the article is me speaking directly to parents.)
I wrote this because I know how upside down the world can become when you are a parent.
I wrote this because I know that it is impossible to not let our egos get wrapped up in our children.
I wrote this because I have made many mistakes and I thought maybe, if just one person read this and gained something from it, then it would be worth sharing.
(And by the way, Aaron has read this and given me permission to publish it.)
I know it might be hard to let go of some of those visions you had for your child, that were wrapped up in their gender identity.
Maybe you imagined giving your little girl away on her wedding day.
Maybe you were still holding out hope that your son was going to be the football star that you wanted him to be.
Both of the above examples can still happen, because neither is gender specific, but it’s probably a good idea to let your child decide what they want to do and be.
Life is hard enough without having to live up to someone else’s vision for your life.
We can become overly attached to our child’s gender identity, without even realizing that this is even happening.
For some, a child changing their gender identity can feel like a death.
Things will be different, but probably not in the ways that you think they will be.
You may find yourself having confused feelings sometimes.
Tell your child, with compassion, some of your struggles.
You don’t have to pretend that everything is okay all the time.
It’s okay to talk about your challenges with your child.
It’s not okay to blame them for those challenges.
Start your statements with “I feel..” or “I fear..”
“I sometimes feel like you snap at me when I call you by your old name. I’m trying to adjust here. I need you to be more patient with me.”
“I fear my father’s judgment of your gender identity. I know you are my child and it is my job to protect you, but this change has exposed how afraid of my father I still am. I’m an adult, but I still feel like a five-year old when he says something judgmental. I know I need to do a better job of standing up to him and defending you.”
Your child may feel safer when they realize that you share some of their struggles.
You may worry about your child’s safety, knowing that there are so many hate-filled people in the world.
You’re a parent.
You will always worry.
The same safety rules apply for trans-children as for all children.
If there’s something you don’t understand, just ask your child.
They may not know either.
Maybe you can learn together.
You will probably be surprised by how much they can teach you.
If you let it, you might find that this change can allow you to know your child in different ways and bring your relationship closer than ever.
Read books that will help you to understand what your child is going through.
If it’s in your budget, find a therapist that specializes in transgender children and go see them together and also encourage your child to see them one on one.
You will learn a lot about yourself and how you relate to different genders.
For example, I always used to call Aaron “beautiful” when I related to him as female and now I find myself pausing a little bit before I use that word.
I guess I must have had a feminine association to it.
I push past that.
I look at him and proclaim the truth..
“You are beautiful and I love you!!”
But I have to work at it.
I have to remind myself.
If you are a member of a church, you may have to switch to a more evolved church, if your current one doesn’t accept you and your child completely.
Even if you are not religious, you may find that some friends are not as evolved as you had hoped.
You’ll make better friends.
You will have to stand up to some family members.
You will be scared.
You will face discrimination.
This is good.
This will give you more empathy for your child.
Your life may be more difficult for a while, during your own personal transition, as the parent of a transgender child.
You’ll be okay.
Parenting is a constant state of transition.
You can do it.
And always remember..
If being the parent of transgender child is hard…
Being a transgender child is much harder and they will always need you in their corner.
I’m going to do things differently today.
Instead of writing an article and being concerned with structure and pacing, etc…
I’m just going to ramble some thoughts on this whole mess of an election in 2016.
You know, like an actual blog..
First off, I miss Bernie.
That’s a strange thing for me to say.
I mean, I never experienced anything like that.
I’m kind of cynical and I actually thought I had pretty much experienced everything that I was going to experience and would spend the remainder of my days repeating the things about life I enjoyed with some variation to keep it interesting.
But I didn’t know that I could get swept up like that.
I don’t know what to compare it to, because I never experienced anything remotely as beautiful or intense…
The feeling of being part of something that could really change the world.
The feeling of being on a team with millions of people.
The feeling of having the establishment actually scared of us.
I barely slept for a year and I didn’t need sleep.
Now we collectively go through this grieving process and it’s incredibly chaotic, because you’re in bargaining while I’m in anger and then you’re working on acceptance, while I’m in denial…
I wish I had answers for people, but I don’t know half the time.
I’m tired of being angry and I’m tired of being sad, but I don’t want to let those things go, because I fear that those are the only things left.
I’ve tried to impart my viewpoint on these matters, because I desire very deeply to help those I care about in the healing process.
Sometimes it helps.
Sometimes it just makes people angry.
And oh, just in case you stumbled in here and don’t know what I am referring to, I am talking to people who worked their asses off on the Bernie Sanders campaign and really believe in the ideals that he stands for.
Many are going through a sort of withdrawal.
If you weren’t part of it, then just stop reading.
There will be nothing that makes any sense to you in here.
When I stood in the middle of FDR park, watching people crying all around me, as we watched our democracy raped on a movie screen, because the “Democratic” Party locked us out of the convention, while our guy was in there, biting his tongue and supporting someone who he knew was corrupt…
When I saw all those people crying, I just tried to breathe it in and let it do to me what it may.
And it changed me…
It intensified me.
I knew right at that moment that there was NO TURNING BACK!!!
Because millions of people put their blood, sweat and tears into this and we were treated very poorly.
We were mistreated by the “Democratic” Party.
I mean I don’t know what we expected…
Infecting their party like that.
We weren’t invited.
They had those rules in place for a reason, to keep out people like us.
In retrospect, I’m not sure why we expected to be treated fairly.
I guess it was the name that threw me.
I guess I thought Democrats would be democratic.
I used to be so naive.
I attended the Indiana State Convention as a Democratic delegate.
It was an odd thing to wear that badge and represent their party, because at that point I was already extremely angry at the “Democratic” Party, yet I wanted to help Bernie, so I was doing the same exact thing that he did.
I was crashing the Party and trying to make some changes to it, because I recognized that there were millions of people who needed help and I recognized this corrupt political party as the best possible vehicle for it at this time.
I know there are lots of people on the Internet who love to post memes about how you can’t fix a broken party and Jill Stein has become fond of saying that, but it’s simply not true.
Almost anything broken can be fixed.
Bernie Sanders knew that.
That’s why he ran as a Democrat.
But there are so many repairs that need to be done.
This is going to take years.
But pretty much every American under the age of 25 voted for Bernie Sanders, so time is on our side.
At every point of the process to becoming a county and then a state delegate, it was completely obvious to me that I was not part of their group.
They all had perfect hair and expensive suits and all in all were just way more put together than I am or would ever actually want to be.
I seriously cannot imagine looking that polished.
I am lucky to have socks that match.
But Bernie gave license to that.
He was running for President, looking like a mess.
I felt somehow excused for messy hair and the occasional spaghetti sauce stain.
We don’t have time to worry about our hair!!
We have a world to change!!
Anyway, the Democrats were very kind.
They humored me.
They showed me how to fill out the forms and all.
It was clear that we were a nuisance.
One they hoped would go away soon.
I went to the convention here in Indiana.
This was literally THE LAST thing I wanted to do with my weekend.
It was like we didn’t even exist.
They had some insider’s club and all they talked about was Hillary Clinton.
They never even mentioned Bernie Sanders’ name.
I saw a girl with tattoos and piercings on her face.
“She must be one of us.” I thought.
I went and talked politics with her and her dominatrix friend.
We became fast friends.
A blind man came up and was trying to navigate through the chairs.
I got up to help him.
He was also a Bernie delegate.
It was the misfits that powered Bernie’s campaign.
It was people like us…
And there are more of us than there are of them.
But they cheated us..
And here we are.
Trying to sort all of this out.
Jill Stein has become the denial phase of Bernie or Bust, a methadone to ween us off of the hero(ine) that is Bernie Sanders, but she is not heroin enough to save us.
I have actually been a Jill Stein fan for a number of years.
My girlfriend jokes with me about how she knows that I am in love with Jill Stein, but I’m actually still in love with Bernie Sanders.
I have Jill Stein stickers on my car and I’m going to vote for her.
Jill Stein is a wonderful revolutionary voice.
She’s by far the best candidate we have left and I think you should vote for her if you want to, but realize that you are voting for her in protest and in hopes of furthering the party’s name, not because she has a chance at winning.
And those are EXCELLENT reasons to vote for her.
America is desperately crying out for a third-party and ultimately I hope that one day the Green Party will be THAT party, but they aren’t ready right now, with just a few weeks left before the election.
“But if Jill could win, then we could defeat the establishment and…”
No. Sorry. That’s not realistic at all.
Even she has been saying that, when she says
“Sometimes you have to lose elections to build your power.”
She isn’t even trying to win.
She’s pretending to try to win, so she can rally people and increase the strength of her party and THAT IS SMART.
In fact, it’s good politics.
But she’s not actually competing in this election.
If she were, then she would have a ground game.
She has raised 1.9 million dollars.
Bernie Sanders raised 228 million dollars.
Jill Stein is running a PR campaign and right now that is EXACTLY what she should be doing to get her party into a position to compete seriously in 2020.
But if you think Bernie Sanders should have endorsed her, then you are missing out on the plan, that I believe even Jill Stein is in on (why do you think she came to Vermont to meet with Bernie before the Clinton endorsement?).
It would have been unwise for Bernie Sanders to endorse Jill Stein.
That would have been the worse thing he could have done.
That would have thrown away all the work that he did fighting the Democratic Platform Committee.
He got them to agree to things that they hated.
And you will make the argument that they are just lies and none of them will come to fruition, but you will be wrong!!
Because Bernie Sanders is the most powerful man in Washington now and he has their word on the platform and if we all vote smart in November, we will have Progressive control of the House and Senate and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE PLATFORMS WILL COME TO PASS!!!
That means we will have a national $12 per hour minimum wage.
That means we can overturn Citizen’s United.
Bernie Sanders and his millions of followers went in and pulled a complete insurrection of the Democratic Party platform.
It is literally the greatest political coup in American history and he did it so subtly that no one noticed except for the Democratic establishment and he made it to where they could not even fight him, by the nature of how he appeared to play ball with them.
I used to have this karate instructor who told me to meditate on the phrase…
“The softest thing cannot be broken.”
I sat and repeated that to myself for years and never began to understand it.
Bernie Sanders taught me what that phrase means.
I wish Bernie would have pulled us all aside and said
“Psssst…here’s exactly what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.”
Then everyone would have supportive.
But he has to play the game and he played it at a master level.
The man has been fighting for you for fifty years and now suddenly he steers you wrong?
The man has so much integrity, that in the end, your criticisms actually expose more about you than they do about him.
And did you notice that all of the people close to Bernie ran over to Jill Stein and endorsed her, after Bernie endorsed Hillary?
Do you think maybe that this was BY DESIGN!!!
Do you think maybe that the plan was for Bernie to move the Democratic platform to the left in exchange for helping Hillary win in 2016, while those close to Bernie are supposed to help the rise of the Green Party simultaneously?
That’s why he started Our Revolution.
It’s to support down-ballot Progressive candidates REGARDLESS OF PARTY!!!
If we work hard to develop the Green Party then we have an insurance policy against Hillary’s lies.
If she breaks the platform promises then her favorability, even among die-hard Democrats will plummet and the Green Party will be in a position to win in 2020.
Bernie Sanders will be 78 years young in 2020 and I will be circulating a petition in 2019 for him to run as the Green Party President.
More people would vote him in 2020 then did in 2016 and I believe he will still be young enough to do it.
You saw him run to catch that train.
You saw him shooting hoops.
The man lives right and 78 is the new 68.
Stranger things have happened.
I feel your pain.
I share your pain.
If you believe in the Green Party then work hard to develop it, while simultaneously fighting for our Progressive values be it on the protest line, in your shopping habits or with your vote.
One of the things I admire most about Bernie Sanders is that he always sticks to issues and never throws anyone under the bus.
This is also one of the things about Senator Sanders that drove me crazy during his Presidential campaign.
So many debate parties, I would find myself screaming at the screen.
“Bernie, she’s lying!! Tear her apart!!”
But Bernie is a statesman and a gentleman and never strayed from the issues.
He spoke his truth and refused to engage in the mudslinging that has become synonymous with American politics.
Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with a picture of Bernie Sanders and interviewing it.
Just to be ABSOLUTELY CLEAR, this is not a real interview.
I am asking the questions and then answering them the way I believe that Bernie would answer them.
It is for entertainment purposes, but not ONLY for entertainment purposes.
My goal with this interview is to illuminate why I believe that Bernie made some of the choices that he made.
I am, in no way, trying to say that these are Bernie’s actual thoughts on the following matters.
But as we will probably never know what actually happened at the tail end of his campaign..
This might be as close as we ever get.
The Independent Thinker: Hey Bernie! Thanks for being here today.
Bernie Sanders: I’m happy to be here.
Indie: You look great. You were starting to look pretty tired there towards the end.
Bernie: Thank you. To be honest. I was getting kind of tired. I’ve been getting more sleep lately.
Indie: Let’s get right to the tough questions. Do you feel that Hillary Clinton’s win in the Democratic primary was legitimate?
Bernie: Secretary Clinton received 3,000,000 more votes than we did. I believe that makes her the winner.
Indie: Okay, but you’re not really here. You’re just a picture, so if we could do away with some of the stock answers and just be completely honest, that’s what my readers are looking for. So I ask you again, do you feel that you lost the primary legitimately?
Bernie: Off the record?
Indie: Sure, I’m willing to lie and say ‘off the record’.
Bernie: Well in that case, there appeared to be some shenanigans taking place all over the country. I believe we had more voters in Kentucky and I believe exit polling showed a wide disparity in Massachusetts and in several other states.
Indie: So you are finally willing to say that the results of the primary were rigged?
Bernie: Off the record, I’m willing to say that some of the results should have been looked at a little deeper, yes.
Indie: Bernie, you are a picture. Hillary Clinton cannot have you killed. The worst thing that I can imagine happening is that maybe she would send some of her goons over here to rip up the picture. So can you stop being so diplomatic, just for the sake of the interview? Or I can just keep lying to you and saying ‘off the record’ if you prefer?
Bernie: I actually prefer that.
Indie: Okay, then the whole interview is off the record. Just know that I love you and it pains me to lie to you.
Bernie: That’s very nice. Thank you.
Bernie: Look. I don’t want to mince words here. Secretary Clinton had access to the same voter information that we had. You were a canvasser. Is that correct?
Indie: Yes I was.
Bernie: Do you want to explain to your readers what you were able to see on your canvassing app?
Indie: Sure. Through the app, we could see the addresses of the voters, how they were registered and who they intended to vote for.
Bernie: And what did you do with that information?
Indie: We were instructed to knock on the doors of the registered Democrats who were “undecided” and tell them why they should vote for you.
Bernie: So you knew before each primary who was planning on voting for me and who was planning on voting for Secretary Clinton?
Indie: Yes. In fact on election day in Indiana, people were freaking out, because initially you were down by 10 points. People kept calling me. I told them all the same thing. I told them that you were going to win Marion County by a landslide and that ultimately you would win the state by about five points.
Bernie: And how much did we win by?
Indie: Five points.
Bernie: Secretary Clinton’s team had access to the same information you did.
Indie: So what happened then? The exit polling was way off in many states. Are you saying that the DNC had the votes flipped at the machines?
Bernie: I’m saying that, judging by exit polling, it appears that there were disparities.
Indie: Even off the record, your answers are pretty reserved.
Bernie: Would you like me to be more EXTREME?!! (with this Bernie lunges forward in his chair with wide eyes and expands his hands wildly.)
Indie: No. I appreciate your honesty. Moving on…you won 22 states. But I definitely noticed some odd trends. For example, you would win by a landslide in states like Utah, Colorado and New Mexico, then across the border in Arizona and Texas, you lost by a landslide. My theory is that Clinton’s team conceded the states with low delegate counts and only rigged the states with high delegate counts. Your thoughts?
Bernie: Different states have different demographics. Secretary Clinton did very well among Latinos in Arizona and Texas.
Indie: Fair enough. But what about the closed polling stations in Arizona? And remember, this is off the record.
Bernie: What happened in Arizona was a disgrace to Democracy. People waiting five hours in the heat, just to cast their vote? That’s not what America is about. That’s not what Democracy is about.
Indie: But do you feel that the DNC was behind the closed polling stations?
Bernie: I honestly don’t know, but anyone who makes it difficult for people to vote is a political coward.
Indie: And what about New York? Many of us believe that New York was the turning point of the election. 3.2 million registered voters were unable to vote for you there, due to being registered as Independent. There were thousands of people who claimed that their registrations were switched to Republican or back to Independent, after they had switched to Democrat in order to vote for you. Your thoughts?
Bernie: What happened in New York is that the state had a closed primary, with some kind of a ridiculously long period, something like six months ahead of time, required to switch your party registration in order to participate. As a result, millions of New York voters who wanted to vote for our campaign, were unable to, due to the fact that they were not registered with the Democratic Party. This is a very exclusive club. They don’t want just anybody voting in it.
Indie: So you are saying that you feel New York was a legitimate win for Clinton?
Bernie: We knew the rules when we got involved. We decided that our best course of action was to run under the Democratic Party rules and we knew that closed primaries were part of that. Would I like to see open primaries in every state in the union? Yes, but we knew the deck was stacked when we declared our candidacy.
Indie: Do you consider closed primaries to be undemocratic?
Bernie: They are “closed” to millions of voters. By their very definition they are undemocratic.
Indie: Did you ever consider saying publicly that you thought that there was election fraud?
Bernie: It’s a very complex issue. We challenged in Kentucky and the recount came back the same as the original count. If we come out and challenge the legitimacy of the primary, then this is a very serious charge. We need evidence. How do we get evidence? A man or woman walks into a booth and does something very personal and very private. Later on, maybe someone says that the numbers don’t add up, but how do you prove it? We couldn’t challenge the closed primary in New York. We agreed to play by the rules of the Democratic Party. There was a hearing in Arizona and the court ruled that the results were valid. An appeal would have taken months and more importantly would have alienated us further from the Democratic Party, who basically holds all the cards in this scenario. Had we made any such claims, we would have been laughed right out of the campaign. It’s easy to say that we should have rocked the boat, but we were sitting in the boat. Once we realized that we were not going to be treated as fairly as we had hoped, we realized that our best course of action was to try to get the Democratic Party to agree to as many platforms that would help the American people as we could and that’s exactly what we did.
Indie: What about the Brooklyn voter purge? It seems that all of the voters who were purged were planning to vote for you.
Bernie: Secretary Clinton’s team had access to the same information you did.
Indie: Okay let’s talk about that. You concede that you were treated unfairly by the Democratic Party. You’ve been in politics a long time. You have always been an outsider. You’ve chosen to be an Independent in the Senate and ran for Governor in Vermont as a Democratic Socialist. You had to know that the Democratic Party was going to do everything in its power to stop you.
Bernie: We figured that they would make it difficult, yes.
Indie: You said over and over again that you were not just an issues candidate and that you believed that you were actually going to win. Knowing how corrupt the Democratic party has become, did you really expect that you were going to win?
Bernie: First off, let’s define “winning”. Did we gain the nomination? No. But we mobilized people. We exposed corruption in the party and now we have thousands of people running for Democratic office who are working to take the party back from the establishment. We are moving towards a living wage, Medicare for all..there is an initiative on the ballot in California which we are strongly supporting. This initiative would make everyone in America automatically registered to vote when they turn 18. We are now, for the first time in a long time, moving in the right direction for the working people in our country. I believe strongly that Secretary Clinton, with the right people in Congress, will make the right decisions to move these initiatives forward.
Indie: Okay. Let’s talk about that. A lot of people, like myself, who voted for you, can’t stomach the idea of voting for Hillary Clinton. She is literally the embodiment of everything we have fought against with your campaign. I have to say, I feel angry and betrayed by you asking me to vote for her. In fact, I refuse.
Bernie: I don’t want to mince words here. Secretary Clinton has her issues and there are many things that we disagree on, but she is not the direct opposite of what we have been fighting for. Donald Trump is. There are several things that the secretary and I agree on, whereas I disagree with Mr. Trump on practically every issue. Secretary Clinton supports a woman’s right to choose, whereas Mr. Trump says that women should be punished for having abortions, as if that choice isn’t hard enough. Secretary Clinton may have been late to the party on the rights of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, but at least she is now at the party. Donald Trump is a bigot and if he is allowed to nominate Supreme Court judges, we will lose everything that we have fought for over the past thirty years. I reject the idea that Secretary Clinton is my opposite.
Indie: Okay, I agree with that, but what about TPP? We know she secretly supports this awful trade agreement. Trump opposes TPP. Can’t I make the argument that it is better to have Trump than TPP?
Bernie: Do you know WHY the Republicans oppose TPP? Many oppose it because it is not powerful ENOUGH! They want to give corporations even more power than this disastrous trade agreement already gives them. Also you have may have noticed that our good friend, Mr. Trump, changes his position almost daily on every issue. So, no, I don’t believe we can trust Trump on TPP or anything else for that matter.
Indie: So what? Hillary becomes President and TPP is passed?
Bernie: If Secretary Clinton tries to pass TPP, you are going to fight her. I am going to fight her. 13 million people who voted for our campaign are going to fight her. And I am hoping, that whoever Americans decide to vote for in November for the House and Senate, will also oppose TPP. We have a real opportunity to defeat this bill if we all work together.
Indie: I’m still not voting for Hillary.
Bernie: That’s your choice.
Indie: What are your thoughts on the Green Party movement?
Bernie: It’s a good movement. They have a strong platform. I can’t claim to be an expert on it. I think America needs a non-corporate party. The challenge they will run into, is that it takes billions of dollars to run a party and raising those kind of funds without corporate donors will be very difficult. I believe it can be done. We showed that you can run a very strong campaign without corporate donors and I wish the Green Party the best of luck. I’ve believed for a very long time that America needs to break out of the corporate two-party system.
Indie: So why didn’t you accept Jill Stein’s offer to head the Green Party? You had the popular vote. Bernie, it just kills me that you didn’t accept her offer. Please explain your thinking here.
Bernie: This is a very complex issue. It’s something that we explored and by ‘we’, I mean my wife, Jane, my friend and campaign manager, Jeff Weaver and some other key members of our staff and in the end we came to the conclusion that it would have had catastrophic results, not just for the American people, but ultimately for the Green Party as well.
Indie: Explain further please.
Bernie: Well, it’s wonderful to see that so many activists in the Green Party, many whom I suspect are the same activists who helped our campaign, have gone out and put in the legwork required to get the Green Party on the ballot in, what I believe now are 40 states. At the time the invitation was extended, I believe they were only on the ballot in 20 states. This shows me that people are serious about expanding a new party in this country and I strongly support that, but the Green Party, even bringing over our 13 million voters is simply not in position to make a serious run at taking over the government at this time.
Indie: Due to lack of funding?
Bernie: Due to many things. We already discussed that the Democratic Party doesn’t play fair. If I were on the Green Party ticket, do you think that they would be on the ballot in 40 states currently? Or do you think that the DNC lawyers would have started fighting our ballot access? And then we would have to go to court in multiple states at once and they would have stalled, which would have cost us millions. The Democrats have very deep pockets and they have been playing this game for a very long time. It is my belief that my joining the Green Party ticket would have done more harm than good, but I understand that our voters were not privy to these discussions that took place behind closed doors and due to the nature of my relationship with the Democratic Party, I was not able to come out and say too much about this, but I support what they are doing in the Green Party and I know that Our Revolution looks forward to supporting Green Party candidates for the House and Senate going forward.
Indie: Are those the only reasons?
Bernie: Those are the main reasons. Even being on the ballot in 40 states means that you automatically lose in ten states and that is extremely tough to overcome. Had the Democrats blocked our ballot access, then we would have had zero chance and I would have not only hurt the party, but I would have split the vote, which would have allowed Republicans to have total and complete control of our government, starting with Trump in the White House, complete control of the Supreme Court, possibly keeping control of the House and Senate. And then, let’s imagine that we were able to overcome all of that. Let’s imagine that we were able to get tens of millions of dollars in donations just to fight the Democrats in court and then somehow we get on the ballot in all 50 states and we win the Presidency, do you think the Democrats would have been happy about this? Do you think that the Democrats would have been willing to work with us on passing legislation?
Indie: No. They would have blocked everything you tried to pass.
Bernie: Every single piece of legislation that we tried to pass would have been obstructed. Would I be able to look to my cohorts in the Green Party to pass bills through the House and Senate? There aren’t very many Green Party members running for these seats. The party isn’t ready to take over the government at this time. Our best hope of political revolution is to use the resources of the Democratic Party to push a Progressive agenda. Had I accepted the incredibly gracious offer from Dr. Jill Stein, we would have lost all the progress that we made in getting the Democrats to agree to our platform.
Indie: Regarding the platform. What is to stop Clinton from just sweeping it under the rug? We have seen her lie and flip-flop on positions repeatedly. How can you trust her?
Bernie: If the Democratic Party were going to do that, why did they fight us so hard on it? They refused our $15 per hour minimum wage and opted instead for a $12 per hour minimum. They refused to oppose TPP. They refused to oppose fracking, something that we pushed very hard for. And there were several other issues we disagreed on. The Democratic platform is the basis on which all future decisions of the party will be made. We fought very hard and got them to concede many things to us, but sure, if we just sit around and ignore the promises that were made, then what will happen is that corporate lobbyists will come in and influence Congress to pass bills that work against the best interest of the people. The platform is just the foundation, but IT IS a strong foundation. Now we have to elect people into Congress that will support our positions.
Indie: In 2008 Barack Obama had a fairly Progressive platform. It was pretty much ignored for eight years.
Bernie: Barack Obama is a friend of mine, but in my view, he made a YUGE mistake by not holding his constituents accountable. Not me, us. Not me, us. I keep saying it. One person, alone, in this government, can do very little, but when millions of people stand together there is literally nothing we cannot accomplish. Barack Obama stirred up the people of America and then when he was elected, they went back to their lives. They didn’t run for office. They didn’t pressure their government. They didn’t vote in midterm elections. As a result, Republicans controlled the House and Senate and obstructed his Presidency. That is one of the key differences between Barack Obama and myself. Our movement is one of tremendous activism. Not me, us. Go to https://ourrevolution.com/ and sign up today. Read the emails that we send out and take action. That’s what political revolution is all about.
Indie: Let’s talk briefly about Our Revolution. There was some dissension in the ranks over the appointment of Jeff Weaver as head of the group.
Bernie: That’s not uncommon. In politics it is very rare to have everyone agree on every issue. For whatever reason, the media decided to take that story and blow it way out of proportion.
Indie: But setting it up as a 501c4, allowing big donors to support the movement, doesn’t this go against everything that your campaign stood in opposition to?
Bernie: That depends on who the donors are and what they expect in return. During our presidential campaign, we had Nurses for Bernie, as well as several large labor organizations, that donated large sums of money to our campaign. We also had many other organizations attempt to donate large sums of money to our campaign and we refused their donations. What’s the difference? The difference is that we did not have to compromise even a little bit to accept the donations from the labor unions. We were already fighting for labor unions. We were already fighting for equal pay for women. We were already fighting for paid leave and a $15 per hour minimum wage. These groups wanted to help with that. We didn’t have to compromise our movement. I’ve known Jeff Weaver for a long time. He is a very close friend of mine. One of the reasons why I put him in charge is I know that if some corporation or large individual donor comes up and offers him money, he will let them know that there are no strings attached and if they do not accept this, he will do exactly what he did during our campaign. He will refuse to accept the money. Jeff is a man of great integrity.
Indie: But the 501c4 filing status made it to where you could not coordinate with Tim Canova. Many feel that this cost him the win in Florida.
Bernie: Tim Canova is a good man. He is exactly the kind of Progressive we need to take on the big money interests in Washington, but the fact of the matter is that the incumbent always has a tremendous advantage, due to name recognition and having the financial support of the establishment. While it is true that the filing status prevented us from coordinating with Tim’s campaign, I do not believe that flying to Florida and giving a few speeches would have been enough to change the outcome of that primary election.
Indie: I noticed on the Our Revolution website that Act Blue was taking donations. They also take donations for Hillary Clinton. Will any of the money donated to Our Revolution go to Hillary?
Bernie: Absolutely not. Every dime donated will go to support Progressive causes and Progressive candidates.
Indie: I feel kind of embarrassed asking you this, but…
Bernie: I’m just a picture sitting on your desk. You’ve been sitting here talking to a picture for hours. How much worse could it get?
Indie: That’s a good point. I was…
Bernie: I just want to make sure that you are taking care of yourself. Are you off your meds again?
Indie: I’ve been off my meds for years now, Bernie. I meditate and do yoga daily. I also do Crossfit and eat a strict vegetarian diet. Political activism and being creative are also part of my program. I find with all these things, I no longer need to take my meds.
Bernie: Well, the fact remains that you are talking to a picture.
Indie: Can we get back to the interview please.
Bernie: It’s your article.
Indie: Okay, speaking of my sanity, I’m kind of embarrassed to ask you this, but my readers want to know. Did the DNC ever threaten you?
Bernie: Not directly, no.
Indie: They threatened you indirectly?
Bernie: Politics is a dirty game. I have been in the House and Senate for a long time. I’m the head of several subcommittees and I have a lot of relationships that I have developed over the years. As a result of these relationships, we are sometimes able to come to agreements on legislation and occasionally we can work together to get bills passed that help the American people. The Democratic establishment was growing tired of our campaign. They saw us as outsiders and their patience was wearing thin with our reluctance to concede and endorse Secretary Clinton. It was pretty clear that if I did not make the endorsement, then they were going to be unwilling to work with us going forward. On the other hand, we had some leverage within the Party. We had 13 million voters and I wasn’t going to abandon them, so we had a series of meetings in which we got the Party, as well as Secretary Clinton, to agree to push forward our initiatives in exchange for an endorsement.
Indie: But they also wanted a concession.
Bernie: Yes, but we were not prepared to do this.
Indie: Why endorse, but not concede?
Bernie: What if something were to happen to Secretary Clinton, God forbid? She has various issues with her emails and such. We wanted to be in position to take over the nomination, should she not be able to fulfill it for whatever reason.
Indie: At the convention, you asked if Vermont could go last during the roll call. After 49 states had voted and it became clear that the super-delegates had pledged to Hillary, you grabbed the microphone and suspended the rules. Why didn’t you just concede?
Bernie: We didn’t want to surrender our delegates. I wish Secretary Clinton all the best, but if she were unable to fulfill her duties, we wanted to be sure that we were next in line to take over.
Indie: Okay, I’m embarrassed to ask this, but there was a rumor circulating that you or your family were threatened physically and that is why you endorsed Hillary.
Bernie: That’s preposterous.
Indie: At the convention, you had a mark on your face. I believe this was the genesis of the rumor. Care to comment on the mark?
Bernie: Let me ask you something. I assume you did some research on me before this interview?
Indie: I’m a huge fan. I’ve read your book. I know more about you than I know about all my friends put together.
Bernie: In any of that reading and researching, did I strike you as the kind of guy who could be bullied or the kind of guy who would succumb to threats?
Indie: No. I never believed any of that stuff. I am just asking for my readers.
Bernie: Sometimes we let our imaginations get away from us.
My grief stages seem to have no particular order and every time I think I have worked out one, it comes back again, stronger than before.
I’m still trying to make sense of this journey.
I remember May of 2015, sprinting excitedly towards my girlfriend’s house.
I felt like a little kid, I was so excited.
She answered the door and I exclaimed..
“There’s this guy. He’s a Senator from Vermont. He’s amazing. I signed this petition last year, asking him to run for President and today he announced that he was going to run.”
We drank our coffee and I told Carrie what little bit I knew about him at the time.
I told her about his career fighting for social justice and some of the platforms he was running on.
I remember saying…
“We have one year to tell everyone in the country about him. Everyone who hears about him will vote for him.”
Although I was a political activist at the time, I never really paid attention to candidates.
I voted a straight Democratic ticket and invested most of my time on issues.
As the parent of a daughter who is very active in the LBGT+ community, in a state where Mike Pence is the governor, I spent a lot of my activist time working on equality issues.
I had never been excited about a candidate before, but Bernie Sanders lit a fire under me.
I agreed completely with every one of his platforms and I had already seen the videos of him speaking to empty rooms and defending gays on the Senate floor.
I told Carrie that I was going to dedicate the next year of my life to getting this great man elected.
“Bernie Sanders is on the right side of every single issue that I’ve spent my life fighting for” I said.
I went to the website and signed up to volunteer.
I went to a meeting.
There was someone there selling shirts and handouts that had Bernie’s platforms on them.
I bought a shirt.
It said “Ask Me About Bernie” on both sides.
I went to a street festival that weekend and wore the shirt.
Nobody knew who Bernie was.
People kept asking me about the shirt and I would hand them a flyer.
I was incredibly afraid that people would ask me questions, because I knew that I was not knowledgeable enough to answer most of them.
There were two separate Republicans who cornered me that evening.
They asked me a lot of questions in a very hostile way.
I had to admit to both of them that I did not know these answers.
I wrote down their questions and took their phone numbers.
I went home and looked up the answers.
I called both of them the next day.
One said “Fuck off, Commie!!” and hung up the phone.
The other sat down with me and we talked.
He ended up voting for Bernie.
I’m still friends with him to this day.
I was abused as a child and as a result, I have struggled with some pretty severe social anxiety issues as an adult.
There were several years, where I only left the house to go to my job and I kept myself completely isolated otherwise.
I saw a series of therapists.
All of them helped me immensely.
Thanks to my children being born and complications with the mother, that resulted in me raising them alone, I had gotten used to living outside my comfort zone.
I would get them signed up for school and take them to their friend’s birthday parties and all the things you have to do in order to appear to be a fully functioning adult, but I would do these things while having severe panic attacks.
I kept the attacks hidden.
I didn’t want my children to grow up anxious.
But part of keeping them a secret was to stay away from people as much as I possibly could, so when Bernie Sanders started his presidential run, I knew right away that this was going to be a YUGE challenge for me.
What I didn’t know is that 15 months later, much of my anxiety would be alleviated by the experiences I had while volunteering for this great man.
I had no way of anticipating that I was about to embark upon a journey that would introduce me to thousands of Americans who loved their country and wanted to make it a better place to live.
As I was standing in the middle of FDR park in Philadelphia, just a month ago, after Bernie had been cheated out of the Democratic nomination…
As I was standing there watching hundreds of people crying..
While tears streamed down my own cheeks, I actually had the thought..
“I never thought I could feel so comfortable in a crowd this large.”
Carrie is an artist and she is always heading out to some festival or another.
Definitely not my scene, but I started tagging along and wearing my Bernie shirt.
Each week, I was more and more prepared for the questions people would ask me.
Living in Indiana, I would get a lot of angry Trump voters coming at me.
Many of them were incredibly hostile.
Maybe I shouldn’t tell you this, but I would sit in the parking lot before I would go into these festivals and smoke pot, which seems insane, because marijuana really aggravates my anxiety and causes me tremendous paranoia.
But it also accentuates my empathy and I found that it helped me listen to people and get past their hostility and really feel what they were saying.
So these Trump voters would come at me with all this hostility and I would be feeling completely paranoid.
But I was able to work through that and feel their fear and have empathy for them.
I gave up on any idea of converting them and just started listening.
As a result, many of them would vent for a minute and once they realized that I actually cared about them, they would start to ask me questions.
I was able to have really deep connections with the voters in my city and made friends with people who I would have stereotyped and ignored previously.
Walls started coming down around my heart.
I started to feel more confident.
Then the guy from the national campaign came in.
It was a Wednesday night and I was already exhausted.
There was a Bernie meeting with a guy from the national headquarters.
I kept falling asleep during the meeting.
The movement had grown and there were about 100 people there, when just a few months before there had only been 10-15.
The meeting was in regards to getting Bernie Sanders on the ballot in Indiana.
He told us that we had to collect 500 signatures in each Congressional district, but that he preferred that we collect 1000, because Indiana was not excited about having a Socialist on the ballot and that they would do anything they could to disqualify the signatures.
He started asking if there were any volunteers and gradually people agreed to take on certain districts.
I kept dozing off.
Between snoozes, I noticed that he kept talking about district 5.
“So no one wants to take district 5?” the guy asked.
Some important looking guy in a suit said..
“There are some challenges with that district. It’s all Republican and it’s rural. There are vast distances between the houses and they don’t take kindly to Socialism.”
I raised my hand..
“So what happens if we are unable to collect the 1000 signatures from that district?”
The guy said
“Then Bernie is not on the ballot in Indiana and he will automatically forfeit this state and have reduced chances of becoming president.”
I raised my hand again.
“You have another question?” the guy asked.
“No.” I said “I am raising my hand to volunteer to get the signatures for district 5.”
Everyone in the place turned to look at me.
I assembled a team and we headed out to district 5.
It was not easy.
The mere mention of Bernie Sanders caused these wealthy Republicans to become hostile.
We were called lots of names and threatened in various ways.
One guy, who informed me that he was a county chair said..
“I hate Socialism and I LOVE The Constitution. I particularly love The Second Amendment. Do you know what I mean when I say that?”
When he walked away I turned to my daughter and said
“Those people would own slaves if it were still legal.”
They were seriously scary people and refused to sign our ballot initiative.
They were openly hostile to us.
Finally I came up with an idea.
I started saying
“Excuse me. Do you have 30 seconds to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House?”
People would stop and laugh.
I would then make the point that “Bernie may be a Socialist, but he’s still better than Hillary.” and then I would add that “The one thing I respect about Republicans is that they believe in real democracy and that ALL people deserve the right to run for office.”
This locked them in and they started reluctantly signing.
Then Cherish (far left in the picture) started going in public places and collecting signatures until they kicked her out.
She did this over and over again.
She was a machine.
She wouldn’t stop.
She got kicked out of every place in the district.
But we got the signatures and Bernie won Indiana!!
“We need to go to Iowa.” I said, walking into the bedroom where Carrie was folding clothes.
“Okay.” she said.
Carrie knows me and she knows how I fear new places.
She also knows that I hate driving long distances.
For me to say that we needed to go to Iowa, was similar to me saying that we should build a rocket and head to Europa.
“It’s a very tight race there. I need to get there and help however I can. If you can’t get off work, I understand, but I need to go. If we win Iowa and New Hampshire we can build momentum. Iowa is the key to the entire race.”
The next morning we loaded up the kids and headed out.
When we arrived at the campaign center they told us that Bernie was across the street about to speak.
We went into a small room.
About 600 people were packed in.
I didn’t even know Bernie was in Iowa and suddenly, unexpectedly, here he was speaking to me in a small room.
Afterwards Bernie headed for the exit while people pushed through to try to shake his hand.
I was just a few feet away from him, but I didn’t want to cut in front of anyone.
Instead I had my daughter walk up to the podium and I snapped this picture.
When I started writing this, I thought that I was going to write a short synopsis of the highlights of the past 15 months.
I decided to write it because I wanted to stop talking about politics in theoretical terms and share a personal story, because I feel like our movement has really lost direction over the last couple of months and I was hoping maybe that humanizing it some might help somehow.
But I can’t do it.
I look at my word count and it says I am already at 2000.
I was about to start into the story of how my son got very sick on our way home from Iowa and how our journey there, in effect, saved his life.
I wanted to talk about how I got to be in charge of helping the handicapped to their seats in Columbus, Ohio at a Bernie rally with 18,500 people and how their stories touched me so much.
I wanted to talk about how my daughter and I became so good as a canvassing team, that we were able to flip people to Bernie using methods that we invented from trial and error.
But, I know you are busy.
I know you don’t have time to read an entire book on your phone or laptop screen right now, so I will just obliterate the fourth wall and wrap this up.
I wanted to share some measure of myself today, in hopes that maybe it would help me to get grounded in gratitude for the incredible journey that we have all been on and also so that maybe we could facilitate some healing.
I don’t want to tell people that they should get over their anger.
Everyone has their own grief timeline.
I’m not even close to getting over mine and I knew that this was over since we were cheated in New York.
I just hope that when the anger goes away, people don’t just give up and walk away bitter, having learned all the wrong lessons.
I am extremely sad about the events that lead us to this moment.
But I am also gradually rediscovering the hope and gratitude I had a year ago.
I know so many of you personally and many who I only know virtually I still count among my best friends.
You sacrificed so much and I feel your pain.
I really want to thank you for everything you have done for this movement of revolution and compassion.
I want to thank you for what you have done for me personally.
Those of you who extended your homes to me and my family so that we could go out and canvass in your area…
I cannot tell you what that means to me.
We honestly were so broke that we didn’t even have the money for a hotel half the time, so we literally could not have had this journey without you.
For those of you who have taken the time to send me your personal stories, please know that I have read every single one of them and have discussed them with my family, often breaking down into tears while doing so.
I can’t tell you the healing that your passion and kindness has given me.
I am ten times the man I was a year ago, thanks to you.
I know how hard it was to donate to the campaign, when you were trying to figure out how you were going to pay your electric bill.
Thank you for doing that.
I know hard it was to get over your fear and phone-bank.
Thank you so much for doing that, as well.
I know it is a scary thing to knock on a stranger’s door, having no idea what their reaction will be.
You are absolutely my hero for doing this.
I know these are dark times.
I know that it is extremely hard to make sense of how millions of people could try so hard, only to get so close and be cheated.
It’s completely natural to want to just give up after this, but don’t.
In time, you will see that we achieved far more than we realized.
Thank you from my whole heart.
I love you all.
Hey Bernie, how the hell are you, brother?
I heard about you and Jane buying a new home on the beach and I couldn’t stop smiling, thinking about you out there chillin, grandkids running around, toes in the sand, drinking a Heady Topper or two, or three, or four, reflecting over the past year and a half.
Even though I dedicated my entire life to getting you elected, there was always this small part of me that wanted you to just go home and relax.
I worried about you.
You were working so hard that I feared that you would burn yourself out.
So the thought of you relaxing makes me extremely happy.
A few months ago, you asked me to vote for Hillary Clinton and because I hold you in such high esteem, I actually considered it.
I read the articles you wrote about it and I agree with you on many points.
It’s true, that if Donald Trump were to become president, America would be in for some hard times.
I read your book and I remember the sleepless nights you had agonizing over endorsing Bill Clinton, while the raccoon stirred in your attic.
I remember that you ultimately endorsed him, because you knew that Bob Dole would cut Social Security, but then you seemed to have some regret over it once NAFTA was enacted.
I know a lot of fair-weather people turned on you after the Hillary endorsement, but not me.
I totally get it.
You were in a really tough position and I admire you for doing what you felt was best.
But I can’t bring myself to vote for Hillary Clinton.
The time for lesser-evilism is over.
Times are desperate.
“Enough is enough.” right?
“Millions of people standing together.” right?
“Political revolution.” right?
I have imaginary conversations with you all the time.
We are sitting on the beach, waves calmly crashing into the shore.
Killer Mike is on his way over with a blunt behind his ear.
Mike and I are going to walk on down the beach and build up an appetite, before we start grilling out.
We will invite you to walk with us, but you will stay back and get the fire started.
In our conversations, you tell me why it is important to vote for Hillary and I tell you why I struggle with this idea.
You talk to me about the importance of Supreme Court judges and I agree with you completely, but I have to counter with Hillary Clinton’s support for TPP.
You and I both know that Clinton is the Trojan horse for this horrible trade agreement.
You and I both know that she is lying about opposing it.
You and I both saw the secret emails where she urged Congress to pass it.
And we both know that TPP is so powerful that it would take away much of the Supreme Court’s power anyway.
You tell me that a Trump presidency would mean losing all the progress we have made over the last decade and I mostly agree with you, but then I remind you that the Democrats will always run on the lesser of two evils ideology and that we have to take a stand against it at some point and that we are running out of time.
We could compare and contrast all day, but all it would do is remind us that the choice between Trump and Clinton is no choice at all.
If this election has taught us anything, it’s that America is locked into a corporate duopoly, where the people are not being represented by their government and that this has to change.
Had we made our stand in 2012, the Green Party would have been a prominent party now.
You wouldn’t have had to run on the Democratic ticket and they would not have been allowed to abuse you the way that they did.
We cannot continue down this path any longer, my friend.
When you see what NAFTA did to cities like Flint and Detroit, do you still feel that endorsing Bill Clinton was right for America?
When you see how his crime bill decimated hundreds of thousands of black families, do you still feel that endorsing him ended up being the best move?
When you see how his repeal of Glass-Steagall lead to millions of Americans losing their homes and ultimately lead to a Wall Street bailout that the American people will be paying for, for the rest of their lives, do you still feel like lesser-evilism actually helped our country?
Would Bob Dole have been any worse?
Or would he have been equally bad for America, but just in different ways?
I know you see this, my brilliant friend.
The Republicans move to the right and the Democrats move in lockstep with them.
They always scream from the rooftops
“We aren’t as evil as the Republicans”
And Americans line up to buy the same lies every four years..
Because the alternative, on the surface at least, is so much worse.
As a result of this never-ending compromise, Americans are left feeling betrayed by the repeated broken promises of hope and this ultimately leads to a voter apathy so great, that the people barely have a voice at this point.
Is that really what you want to endorse?
The Bernie Sanders that I fell in love with was a man who stared into the face of evil and refused to blink.
The Bernie Sanders who inspired me was a man who said that people who suppress voting are “political cowards”.
The Bernie Sanders who got me off my ass and out knocking on doors was a man who stood opposite of Hillary Clinton and the multinational corporations she represents.
You said “Enough is enough”, Bernie..
And we listened.
Don’t ask us to vote out of fear, when you told us to stand together to fight against the 1%.
Don’t ask us to vote for everything you have rebelled against for the past fifty years.