This was originally posted July 12, 2016 on my old blog.
Change is not an easy nor uncomplicated concept. Change is enormously challenging, complex, and often unforgiving. The fight for change hurts and can be destructive, but ultimately, it is worth it. Revolution is something entirely different. It breaks hearts and belief and tells us we are over-idealistic at first. Those who benefit from the status quo usually tend to defend it and protect it. Revolution takes time and quite a lot of heartbreak.
Today, I have lost quite a bit of faith in change, but I hope, and believe, that I will soon regain it. I like to think of this a strengthening, definitive moment in our history and our ambition. Today, Bernie Sanders finally, unsurprisingly but disappointingly nonetheless, formally endorsed the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, Hillary Clinton. This decision, to the majority of diehard Sanders supporters, including myself, comes as an expected yet painful blow. The efforts of this campaign are historically revolutionary and transformative. This campaign, unlike so many others, truly has focused on the collective will and efforts of us, the 99%, human beings living and striving in America rather than the select, elite few. That is not solely my socialist, populist bias coming into play- that is an unprecedented endeavor, and all of America recognizes it as a non-partisan truth. Today, we, as the millions of Americans young and old, of countless ethnicities and sexualities and genders and experiences, we, today, cannot deny the impact we have all made on America forever. This sounds rather absurd and quixotic but I assure you, it is not only the newbie, political junkie in me speaking. It is the truth.
Look at what we have made. Dissect it and digest it. This campaign has raised 222.2 million dollars through solely contributions from regular, true Americans, without the unjust upper hand of large corporate interests and Super PACS, with an average donation being just $27. This is not going to change the world alone, but it is an enormous and important step. We are more than one candidate, one political race. We do not, by any means, end here. We continue on. We won almost two dozen states, something believed to be impossible in the beginning of this campaign. We claimed victory over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire by 22 points. Small contributions comprised 75% of Sanders’s campaign. The leftist, democratic socialist, independent Senator from Vermont, with his unruly white-grandpa hair and bright-eyed fervor, soared far beyond the scoffs and disbelief of wearied politicians and devoid explanations of pragmatism. Look at us. This campaign has mobilized millions of exploited and mistreated, unheard Americans, and brought us together to strike fear into the hearts of those unwilling to respect our existence. We’ve won so much.
my backpack supporting my feminist agenda! yay
I want to thank Bernie Sanders for so much. I want to thank him for helping me find a movement I can be an active and adamant part of. Bernie Sanders, for all his flaws and strengths, represents change to the American eye. The youth have supported this man with unprecedented fervor and we will continue to support the “political revolution” his movement has effectively inspired and given a voice to. The Sanders Campaign’s unparalleled passion in this campaign is the striking tenet of this election cycle. It is historically unprecedented that both presumptive nominees (Trump and Clinton) possess such high unfavorable ratings. 67% of Democrats would prefer a third term for Obama rather than a Clinton administration. This election functions as an inescapable “lesser of two evils” paradigm rather than an inspiring, uplifting example of the beauty of our democratic country. Democracy, at its heart, cannot be perfected, nor is it constructed to. The Constitution is, like its creators, a fundamentally flawed and dated document. The Constitution does not exist as the miraculous, immutable basis for true democracy and liberty, as it is not a document constructed by some untouchable group of demigods. The Constitution must be reformed as a living, breathing artifact of the beginnings of our country, but utilized more effectively to be reshaped along with the world and time we exist in now. It must be modernized and adapted to embrace the immeasurable challenges of the contemporary world. The Sanders campaign transcends one mere man. It transcends even one moment in history. In the words of the brilliant Lin Manuel Miranda, “This is not a moment, it’s the movement.” This movement is more than one election cycle, one President, it is so much more than that.
As a young, leftist, socialist-leaning, progressive (intersectional) feminist, I often find myself utterly defeated by the innate disappointments of the American government and electoral system. I find myself wishing for a country that truly represents the voice I possess. I am unable to vote (I’m sixteen), and this is a frustration in itself, but I am well aware that one vote does not define an election. I am more concerned with the system rather than the nominees. The disgraceful attempts to both invalidate Sanders’s supporters and sabotage their collective efforts at every turn, by the Democratic National Committee and the corporate media, only serves as a brutally pessimistic example of the corruptive nature of this country’s establishment. Campaign finance is a heinous, quintessential example of the perils of our hyper-capitalist commitment to corporate welfare, no matter the costs or morals involved. It must be reformed.
It is an unyielding, unfathomably painful blow, to believe so passionately in something, only for that thing to lose. When Clinton won the California primary, I locked my door, sat in my bed, disregarded the (awful) pile of algebra homework on my desk, and cried. I did not feel proud nor whatsoever valid in my tears. I felt melodramatic and unspeakably idiotic. I am sure most people in my grade did not break into unceasing tears over a presidential race, and I wish I had more integrity, but I do not regret it anymore.
I felt disheartened by the political system and I came, for the first time, face to face with disillusionment, a disillusionment countless others have felt and hurt to before me. I am sixteen and I am already severely pessimistic about this country and our politics, but I also am proud to have been a part of something revolutionary, no matter how small. I do realize and acknowledge that this movement has been ongoing and is not merely catalyzed by solely Bernie Sanders. Individuals across this nation have come together and unified in order to voice their desperate, relentless desire for change in this country. There is so much to be heard and said. Black lives do matter, and all lives cannot matter until black lives truly do. Every day, 89 people die by gun violence in this country, and, the amount of those affected are disproportionately people of color. The inconceivable amount of gun violence is a ferocious problem unique to the United States in 2016. The LGBTQ+ community is in great distress. A woman’s fundamental right to control her own body and thus, her human autonomy, is being severely threatened and compromised by a largely white male conservative demographic, who will never be pregnant nor educated on what reproductive services even entail. There is so, so much to fight for. The struggle continues as it always will.
Bernie Sanders has endorsed Hillary Clinton as of this morning. I am not interested in weakly sugarcoating my feelings in artificial optimism and empty idealism. I do not believe that Hillary Clinton will achieve all that she grandiosely promises to. I do not agree with 99% of her record, and I adamantly believe that she has done far more bad to feminism than good, as it is clear she has long had no such concept of intersectionality. That is an entirely separate article, but if you’d like to understand my distrust of her, please read False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton, an excellent, thoughtful, and unbiased/non-sexist dissection of Clinton’s clickbait brand of elitist feminism (that was passive-aggressive, I admit). However. I do trust Bernie Sanders. I do trust that Hillary Clinton, although a corporate fiend, is ultimately far superior to the alternative uneducated, anarchist, misogynistic, racist, excuse for a presidential candidate that is Donald Trump. I do believe, more than anything, that Clinton will not undermine the very basis of individual liberty and will (somewhat) work to free those in this oppressive society. The system, I would argue, is not broken, rather, it is functioning exactly how it was intended to. It is inherently oppressive. American government was conceived up by white, cisgender, presumably heterosexual males. The American government is not an imaginative, revolutionary innovation. It is the result of gruesome, unsparing compromise and backdoor deals. It is the result of bipartisan disagreement. It is working as it was intended to, and that intention cannot work for the 99% of us. We must be unafraid to criticize our politics and our country. It does not mean that we must detest our country. We may take pride in our accomplishments but we must also thoroughly understand the perilous effects of capitalism on the disadvantaged, marginalized groups, and how our government works to fund a sourly neoliberal agenda rather than a democratic one.
Bernie Sanders inspired me to believe in something real. I did not transform him into a god. I believed in the movement and the ideas behind it. I felt a part of something so much greater than myself. The will of the people surrounding me at the rallies felt like history being made. The passion nearly knocked me over and swept me off my feet. I often found myself receiving countless eye-rolls and sneers at my “obnoxious Bernie-or-Bust mentality” (as stated by one such perpetrator) yet I could not compromise or sacrifice my belief in Bernie for the sake of being seen as an unconscious participant in suppressive politics. Most interestingly, I was accused frequently of being a “bad feminist” for not unquestioningly devoting my loyalty to the female candidate in the race, despite her long track record of being an enormous detriment to intersectional feminism. I argued with Clinton supporters yet often found that the sole argument was that not supporting Hillary was sexist. As if supporting a candidate because of her gender was not sexist and the antithesis of feminism. I respect a great deal of Clinton supporters, including my mother. I respect the numerous ideals and truths we share and embrace their intelligence and passion. Yet I will be a halfhearted supporter of her in this election, and this is the great disappointment to me: this election is undoubtedly a lesser of two evils election. A great number of Americans are unhappy with both presumptive nominees, yet are forced to choose the one they believe will not be the absolute worst choice. What a time to be alive. Sarcasm intended.
But. Bernie Sanders has shaped the Democratic National Convention’s platform in an unprecedented and beautiful way. It is the most progressive platform in our history. The progressive aspects include: the abolishment of the death penalty, legalization of marijuana, a minimum wage of $15, a written commitment to ending harmful trade deals, and the list continues. Our movement’s impact on this platform cannot be denied.
As predicted by a number of political pundits and analysts, Sanders has forcibly swerved Clinton to the left on numerous issues. However, this is thanks not solely to the Sanders campaign, but rather, to the collective will of the American people, primarily the unwavering ferocity of fervor in the youth. This is where we begin to catalyze revolution, and we will not, cannot, stop here. The work has barely begun with Bernie. According to John Cassidy of the New Yorker, “In order to win over Sanders and his supporters, the Clinton campaign has made policy concessions in a number of areas, including education, the minimum wage, and the death penalty. It would be going too far to say that the runner-up in the primaries is dictating policy; on trade, fracking, and some other issues, the Clinton campaign appears to have stood firm and rejected demands by Sanders and his supporters. But the deal that Sanders and Clinton have struck will shift the Democratic Party further away from the centrist, New Democrat philosophy that Bill Clinton campaigned on in 1992, and closer to the social democratic, or “New Deal liberal,” approach that Sanders has long promoted.”
The New Deal, socialist-esque liberal agenda first conceived of by Roosevelt utterly shifted and transformed the ways in which the American presidency functions and the power it holds. It struck America with the teeming, successful potential of socialist policy and change that seemingly could not be achieved (and yes, the New Deal did not end poverty/unemployment but it did revolutionize our presidential office). Bernie has continued this subversive advance of our democratic system. In fact, the platform committee has awakened to the prevalent, urgent demand of the people for an increasingly progressive Democratic platform. As Democrats, and as youth, we must restore the faith we once felt in our party.
Now, though, things have changed for me. To be honest, I personally, wholeheartedly and truly, support the brilliant Green Party candidate Jill Stein and all that she stands for. She is an incredible woman and a truly intersectional feminist and now best represents what I want for this country. Yet I do know how ridiculously slim the chances of her winning are (virtually nonexistent). So I will support Bernie’s choice, if unenthusiastically. Rather than focus on the candidate herself in this election, I will continue to focus on and support the unfinished progressive ideals this campaign has tenaciously and unsparingly fought for. I will continue to scrutinize and inspect the political tactics and policies of both parties, even the one I identify with. I believe that our democracy requires debate and discussion to function. We are not gods. No candidate is. No political system is perfect nor systemically free. Our republic certainly is intrinsically oppressive and caters to the elite, and rather than disguise this fact in beguiling pride, we must instead seek reform. To be honest, I have little optimism, and I suffer to find faith most of the time. But this is personal.
I refuse to be a bystander to oppression and injustice that will undoubtedly continue and thrive if we do not elect a Democrat to the White House in this election. I refuse to submit to self-centered pessimism only to compromise the safety and liberty of the disadvantaged and marginalized communities in my country. I understand the ideals behind Bernie or Bust, and I commend those who will follow this mentality down the line, but I also do know that I trust Bernie Sanders. I trust him and this movement he has created and given life to. I, as a teenager, have a reason to be involved and newly in love with politics, because as harsh and disturbing and colorless as this political atmosphere often feels, and is, there is some reason to go on and fight for what we believe in. We have to be educated and shrewd and realistic, but I will not become jaded. I am fed-up with the oppression of black lives, of women, of the LGBTQ+ community, of so, so many. I am sick of the oligarchical current this country is following. I know we can do more, and do better than the status quo and its many limitations.
To be clear, I am extremely disappointed with this election. I am tired, and weakened by this blow, and I will not deny that there lives justifiable anger in all of our weary hearts. We believed in something brilliant and we fought for it ceaselessly. We lost, yes, and I wish we had won. I believe we could have won, if the electoral system was not inherently rigged in favor of the establishment candidate. I believe that voter suppression had a grotesquely unjust hand in this election, in California, Nevada, New York, and several others. Election fraud is not a chimerical threat. It exists and thwarts democracy.
Yes, my heart feels broken right now, as I am sure many of you understand. Yes, I wish this reality we are all distraught with were utterly different. I wanted Bernie Sanders to become president, not only for myself, but for us. For the infinite different, multifaceted, unique individuals who comprise that “us” I speak of. For those who feel unheard and dismissed as less than human by the political system. For those desperately believing, for the first time, in something colossal and powerful and momentous, and remarkable. For the youth wanting to contribute to this country rather than spend heaps of money and time and sanity on paying off student debt, people who want to construct a world worth living in instead of barely sustaining their existence on a lifeless minimum wage. For all of us exhausted with the duty of being the silenced majority of this country. I am hurting because of this loss, but I do not believe that we, as a whole, have failed at anything. We are much, much more than this crooked political system tells us we are. We are more than one man or campaign. We are more than we are trained to believe. To rebel peacefully rather than chaotically and violently is to challenge the blatant defects of the norm. We do not stand back and sit down when we are told to. We keep on.
Yet, in spite and because of all of this, there lingers the cryptic, disconcerting question to many: what next? This is difficult, because we are a mobilized, unified, passionate group of people, and to find the next step in the midst of this kind of heartbreak is always going to be a difficult and daunting challenge. Yet the fight cannot be over. We cannot allow it to end with Bernie’s campaign. Our beliefs and our movement cannot be a moment. It must live onwards and upwards. How do we accomplish something so paramount and seemingly unreachable? There are so many ways.
We must elect Democrats to all public offices this election cycle. We must campaign and rally and educate and promote and fundraise. The caliber of this responsibility cannot be understated. In order to protect and expand our progressive agendas and convictions, we must take back the Senate and ultimately the House as well, even if the latter stands as a far more ambitious battle to win. Furthermore, our support of Bernie cannot waver. I will not forcibly demand for anyone to vote for Hillary, because backing someone you are unable to believe in, no matter the circumstances, is unbelievably laborious and can often feel like sacrificing your identity for the politically “right” thing, and I honestly do not wish that upon anyone. However, we cannot allow a man like Donald Trump to be our President. I understand that many equate Clinton’s flaws to being just as bad as Trump’s, but she cannot possibly destroy our country as unabashedly and brutally as Trump can. It is now a lesser of two evils election, and this is a truth I wish to never see again. I want this country to be somewhere I want to be myself in. I want this country to feel like it truly belongs to every one of us. I do not want to have to feel an endless cycle of preventable, unimaginable grief everytime another black human is gunned down and murdered by the police. I do not want to see another LGBTQ+ safe haven transformed, in a matter of moments, into a hunting ground for the mercilessly hateful. I do not want to feel unsafe because of my gender or sexuality or Hispanic identity in this country.
I cannot compromise my integrity and dedication to justice and liberty in the country and support Hilary Clinton. I endorse Jill Stein, but I also endorse, still, Bernie Sanders, and all I want is for this country to thrive. I encourage you to contemplate both Jill Stein and Clinton throughly and to make the decision for yourself, but know that being part of the Sanders movement does not have to be as divisive as the media makes it out to be. We all want a liberal leader in the White House, yes, but more crucially, we all want radical change. Slow and gruelingly inactive change cannot be enough anymore, not for those of us who are suffering under the status quo.
I want this country to belong to all of us. I want us to recognize that we are a nation builtupon slavery, and to confront this bitter truth head-on and challenge it rather than force the dismissive and oblivious concept of colorblindness in America (“I don’t see race”) down our throats. Racism is alive and thriving and we cannot defeat it by denying it. Sexism is alive. Homophobia is alive. No prejudice or specific hatred is defeated, not yet. And Donald Trump surely will not fight these prejudices and the tragedies that senselessly accompany them.
I want to raise the minimum wage to $15 dollars and to recognize both the hardships of Israelis and Palestinians. I want a better, more diplomatic and less neoliberal foreign policy. I want us to realize how truly detrimental a capitalist economic system (not political) can be to the 99%. As said by the late Jude Wanniski, “What we should admit to begin with, if we can, is that good socialism is better than bad capitalism. The logic of the statement is really inescapable. It is only when capitalism fails that people and nations resort to alternative forms of political economy. A socialist system that is working well is one that is fully deploying the nation’s resources through a central plan that has the approval of the people. It would be superior to a capitalist system that is working so poorly that its adherents must find excuses for mass unemployment, widely diverging income classes, and deepening social pathologies. The price paid for any form of socialism is the loss of some degree of individual freedom, but when the only alternative is bad capitalism of the type described, a people willingly pay that price.” I want the disgraceful, fatal wealth inequality in this country to end. I want poverty to end. I want capital punishment to be abolished in this country by the Supreme Court. I want all transphobic domestic policies to end. I want my right to possess bodily autonomy over my uterus to be preserved and respected as my own rather than invalidated and threatened by misogynistic, restrictive abortion policies. want I want equal pay for women of minorities. I want inclusive, effective immigration policies to aid rather than to stifle. I want change, in so many areas, in multitudes of ways, and it feels so impossible. It will not come at once. I know this. But Bernie Sanders allowed us a gateway to unity and to collaborative efforts to redefine America as a nation representative of who we really are, instead of a handful of elite, white, heterosexual, cisgender, upper-class males. Bernie Sanders is well-aware that his visionary campaign will transcend him.
November is not here yet. We have a very long way to go. Giving up is not an option for any of us who want our revolution to one day occur.
I am not finished fighting this fight. I will never be finished.
Respect existence or expect resistance.
Fight on, my fellow Sanders supporters. This fight begins and ends with you and me. Believe in it. We’ve all come to look for America and we are going to find it.