I Started as a Pragmatic Hillary Supporter

Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last year when Senator Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for the democratic nomination, I had two reactions. First I was happy he joined in. I felt he was a solid voice for the progressive movement in the United States. I had followed him off and on over the years with appreciation for his strong stance on issues from gay and civil rights to his opposition to the war in Iraq. His unwillingness to let Wall Street off the hook for the collapse of our nation’s economy in 2008 caught my attention, and earned my appreciation.

But when one of my sons expressed his support for Bernie for President, I said I didn’t think it could happen. I confess that I am ashamed of my cynicism now. I am ashamed that I didn’t do my research before I gave that response. It was that flicker of disappointment in my son’s eyes that got to me, not that he knew I must be right, but that he was sincerely saddened that I would so quickly parrot the words of news anchors without looking into Sanders’ chances objectively on my own. I should  have done better, been more informed, more open to new ideas. Not that he said any of those words, but I felt the sting. Maybe I was no better than others I would have criticized for believing in FOX news hype without checking their sources.

From time to time over the years I had caught a news clip, or a few minutes of C-SPAN coverage of one of Bernie Sanders’ speeches on the Senate floor in which he adamantly stood up for so many things that I have come to believe in, and I was impressed. I thought he would keep the democratic candidates honest, and possibly move the discussion more left, but why was I so quick to believe he didn’t have a chance? Someone, somewhere had said “He’s too old to be President.” And with no evidence I shrugged and thought, oh yeah. Too old. What was that? The power of suggestion? Yet, I don’t think I could have even told you last year what his age was . And I couldn’t have predicted then how completely I’d change my mind about that subject later.

He’s 74, by the way. Just five years older than Donald Trump, and only six years older than Hillary Clinton. But he’s been campaigning all over the country with energy and gusto, and shows no sign of being worn out. My own father is 84 and has only recently started to slow down. Could it be that 74 is the new 62? Why did we collectively have this idea that he was maybe 80 and getting weaker by the day? Are we, on the left, as susceptible to our favorite media as we accuse the right of being?

Are we fact-checking our heroes? Are we reading and reviewing more sources than just our short-list of favorites? Hillary recently said she “felt sorry for younger people who believe” Bernie. “They don’t do their own research.” But it seems to me that sometimes my sons do better research than I do. Ever notice how we “old folks” get stuck in our ways? So I decided to look into this more myself. I decided to watch as many debates as possible, and I think I only went to bed early on one of them so far, retiring half-way through, and checking the highlights later.

I had gotten away in the last year or so from discussing and following politics. The Facebook battles and the comment sections of blogs and articles were just too depressing. I was dealing with health issues, my own and those of a family member. Seeing how deeply divided my country was, how viscous my friends and neighbors could be with each other, and how tempting it was to snarl and snap back myself, led me to turn off notifications for a while. I confined my debates online to discussions about poetry and bird identification.

But as the campaign got under way and I was feeling more centered again I started to listen with fresh ears, and to a variety of sources. And I started to question this notion that Secretary of State Clinton was more electable. I started to appreciate even more just how long and how ardently, even when it was not popular or politically expedient to do so, Senator Bernie Sanders had consistently showed leadership in standing up for what was right. I began to see it as possible that we could have a leader in the White House who was indeed worthy of my respect.

This blog is the result of that journey. It’s an attempt to share how I have come to my conclusions. But it’s also to share with you articles, videos, news and testimony from others, that corroborate my conclusion that Bernie Sanders is the best choice for President of the United States now. I do not wish to fight or fume or argue, and I will be as kind and civil as possible, though I may push back a bit more than the gentlemanly Senator does for himself.

I do not think we benefit from name-calling and trash talking to each other. I do think we benefit from adult, open and compassionate conversation between fellow citizens, who despite those who would make money of the spectacle of our in-fighting, are in-fact equally desirous of making the world better, our nation more honorable, and our children’s future more promising. Here on the ground, neighbor to neighbor, despite our differences, we are more prone to agree with each other than we’ve been led to think. But scandal and conflict sells, doesn’t it? We’re better than that. Yeah, we really are.

And this is just the beginning.

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