Ay Bernie Lemme Tell You Something

An ode to the Sanders 2020 campaign

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Bernie Sanders Drop Out Ode
(@berniesanders/Instagram)

*Jogs across tabs from your livestream announcement to my WordPress dashboard*

*Short, exasperated sigh*

I know you weren’t perfect.

I know about your votes on the Brady Bill, as well as your lack of explicit plans for racial justice, hoping an aspirational platform and your big fight for class equality could do enough for us Black and brown folk.

But even those stances were rooted in your guiding principle: represent the people.

You, Bernie, are the only mainstream politician I know truly indebted to the idea that you serve rather than rule over people. You have always tried, and have succeeded more than people like to say, to do things for us because you were elected by us. You are FUBU in an old White man.

Even when you voted against the Brady Bill five times, you did it each time knowing it was in the best interest of the people who chose you to represent them, the nonviolent, rural pro-gun folks of Vermont. And when you took your brand of politics to the national stage, your scope grew with it.

You have not only changed millions of minds, but proved yourself capable of changing your own mind when confronted with grave realities of your fellow Americans (like this and this).

Twitter has a way of aggrandizing or thrashing public figures to infinity and beyond. But those viral clips of you as Burlington’s mayor taking teen punkers and a little girl as seriously as any wealthy constituent or political peer didn’t really deify you. You didn’t become my god or savior. It was simply confirmed that you were human. More importantly, it confirmed your belief that humanity—not debating, fundraising, or strategy—is what made a great politician.

“What kind of society would you like to see?” (2:57)

I think the most humane belief anyone can hold is in the inherent good of every human being. To see how simple, natural, it was for you to criticize our sitting president without saying a damn thing about his supporters was silently radiant.

For such a “polarizing” figure, you were the only person fighting for our votes that was fighting for every vote. Not a calculated majority consisting of the choir plus “swing” voters, but every single American who could benefit from a more humanistic government (i.e. all of us).

In contrast, your peers on the campaign trail have found it necessary to disparage and denounce those millions of Americans. “Dregs of society” is the new “deplorables.”

Despite the failure of such an approach four years ago.

Despite the fact that your political peers, like you, were vying to represent the “dregs of society” as much as they would the cream of the crop.

Shit, man. Even if we spot the haters this idea that you were the most divisive candidate—that “Not Me. Us.” is bullshit—your “us vs. them” was a much different fight than their mission statements. And that’s assuming their campaign was anything more than “I’m not Trump.”

Through the example you set—every respectfully answered question, every tick on the running tallies for how many times you said “Medicare For All” and “pay their fair share”—you made it clear that to be with you, to join your “us,” you had to care about people first.

Not just removing a dangerous president, not just returning back to “normal,” but making “normal” much better than it has been.

Caring about that meant to be with you, to be a part of your “us,” we had to acknowledge that “normal,” even under Democratic Party Saint Obama, royally fucked the vast majority of Americans.

The story about the unimportance of a revolution your peers wanted to push onto voters was a story that left out the future of this country. Me and all the commoners, or “the little guys” as the now-Democratic nominee likes to say so affectionately, without a hint of irony…

Even if your story, Bernie, your spooky “radicalism,” didn’t center some key voters (i.e. older, more conservative), it’s impossible to deny you fought and will continue to fight for a better future for their children, grandchildren, and, once the needs of old age soon hit, themselves.

And to think of aaall the runners in this race, it’s you many have been calling selfish. For continuing to push your talking points in a losing battle. We all know you’re winning the ideological battle, as you keep pointing out.

Fuck that, they say.

You were getting in the way of people’s hopes to “move forward”…right back to where we were. That somehow, being the only candidate that felt more like a concerned citizen, felt more like the future of this country than even younger and/or non-White candidates, was a conniving leader of a cult of personality.

You fought, and will continue to fight, to make this country proud of itself. You continue to challenge this country to care about its poorest, its sickest, and its most defeated. You make us freeze and struggle with this internal contradiction–that we, America, the freest and most forward-thinking nation of them all, wince at the thought of all its citizens waltzing into hospitals without giving an arm and a leg. Wince at the thought of billionaires becoming lesser-billionaires. Wince at treating the Earth’s health like the crisis it is.

Basically,

you won, Bernie.

You have put this country’s beliefs into the crucible. You have made reasonable solutions to our problems seem, well, reasonable. Senator Warren had near-bulletproof plans to make those very reasonable solutions happen. But it was your timeless integrity that made such a platform viable in the first place.

Thank you for caring about all Americans. Thank you for speaking like a person before a politician. Thank you for believing I’m worth big changes now. And since it won’t be through you in the Oval Office, it’ll have to be the millions of us who scraped digital pennies together to donate to you. Those of us who care about this country, even its citizens who may not care about us. Those of us who know “back to normal” was never good enough.

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