To my Bernie folks and to your Bernie folks:
I know you are disheartened. I understand. You see all the injustices out there and you know that we are in need of drastic, systemic change. Those voices who came out to support Bernie were also the voices of good-hearted people pleading for changes that are good for the country.
Bernie is now out of the race. We can ascribe that fact to a lot of causes, but it does not change the fact that he is out or that the change is still needed. If anything, this pandemic has shown how much we need to value employees, healthcare, social welfare, immigration and refugee reform, election reform, the environment and human rights in general.
I know you are discouraged. But things will only change if we come together to get this done. Sitting with your hands crossed at this point and saying the system is rigged will not accomplish anything. Let me repeat that. Sitting with your hands crossed at this point will not accomplish anything.
And if you think voting doesn’t accomplish anything, then ask yourself why people will do what they can to keep as many of us from exercising that right.
The President slot is only one part of a much bigger picture. The Senate and Congress are both up for grabs. State and local offices are up for grabs. Propositions that will change people’s lives fundamentally will be on ballots this November.
If you don’t like the people who run for President, then start supporting local candidates and officers who do represent your values. Leaders do not fall from the sky. They come up through the ranks. And your support helps them come to the front.
What is support? It is voting, yes, but that is not enough. If you can, you should contribute money. You should contribute time. Get engaged! You should spend time educating yourself about what is going on. You should share what you know in the spirit of respectful dialogue. Look at AOC. There are local candidates just like her all around this country trying to push the mission forward.
I know it feels like we are more divided than ever. And that people don’t want to listen to the truth. But remember, not everyone has had the benefit of knowing what you know and what you’ve learned. Also remember that there are things happening in this country that you might never have had the misfortune of experiencing yourself. Shaming others, rudely shutting people down and just punching down to those who don’t agree is not effective citizenship.
Cynicism and bitterness will not win hearts and minds. If you want your values to reach people, you must open their eyes and inspire them. No one was every convinced of something they didn’t already agree with by a snarky meme.
Hope, rooted in knowledge and compassion, is the only way we’re going to come together. This is not the time to give up. This is the time to try harder than ever because we know the stakes are so very, very high.
We do not choose the circumstances we are born into. Sometimes, the opportunities for heroism present themselves in the guise of oppression and sorrow and despair.
Giving up is not the answer. In the immortal words of Bowie, we can be heroes.