I successfully ran the campaign office for an evening, with the help of another very dedicated volunteer. We set up and sent a couple volunteers canvassing. Then he did some phone banking while I called volunteers who hadn’t arrived yet. One said he hadn’t gotten the email with the address, so I told him and he came. So I got to send out another canvassing team.

One of the volunteers I called cancelled for today, but signed up for most of the remaining events this week. She asked The Question and I almost panicked – I didn’t want to lose a(nother?) volunteer… But I was able to diffuse the situation by saying I’m too focused on helping Bernie win the primary to think about the general. She accepted the answer and we had a very pleasant conversation. Whew!

I did some of my own phone banking, chatted with the volunteers when they came back, and did data entry. The dedicated volunteer was very helpful and we had a good conversation.

All in all a good shift and I feel like I accomplished a lot by empowering others to do the actual work that needed to be done. Well, the direct voter contact part, that is. I like having a leadership position and getting to meet all sorts of interesting people who seem happy to work with me. I feel so much more confident.

Edit: I should probably mention that all this was after I did some useful stuff at home, then took a nice long nap. I felt refreshed and energized going into it.

When I was feeling energized by my volunteer efforts, I couldn’t help thinking: “This isn’t going to last, and when I crash it’s gonna hurt. So I’m gonna make the most of it.” And, well, the crash has come. I’m exhausted. I’m starting to let the naysayers get to me – either dragging me down, or making me angry. And sometimes it feels like there’s no point….

I’m not sure when the transition started, but yesterday I had a huge anxiety attack that prevented me from going to the march I’d planned on attending. It really took me by surprise because I’d gotten used to being much more confident, almost like my anxiety had melted away. I almost felt like a different person… and yet there I was, back to panicking and sabotaging any possibility that I might have made it on time. Once I got to the office things went well. K was there being his usual ridiculous self and I finished the turf I’d been canvassing. I’d even recruited a couple new volunteers!

Today I’m just exhausted. I showed up feeling exhausted and made volunteer recruitment calls… they went okay. Then a couple of volunteers came so I tried to get them set up with phone banking. I felt bad because I was kind of ignoring Volunteer A to help Volunteer B. The latter had technical issues and decided to go home – ostensibly to phone bank using his own computer, but I have no way of knowing.

Volunteer A made calls for a little while, then asked if I would join him to canvass, “show him the ropes.” I agreed and we went out and I made a bunch of wrong turns and it was generally awkward – though he was fun to talk to and I think he felt the same about me. We didn’t get the best reception once we started knocking on doors, though.

And then there was one very nice older couple who support Bernie and are going to vote for him in the primary, but don’t think he’s going to win the nomination. (?) They were wonderful to talk to… until the wife asked me if I’ll vote for Hillary in the general election.

I made the mistake of answering honestly, and then all hell broke loose. They took back everything nice they’d said. They told me I don’t care about the direction of this country. They insulted me to my face. And worst of all, they refused to listen when I tried to defend myself. I got very angry and joined in their yelling match. It took me quite a while to calm down afterward.

I might have yelled some obscenities once we reached the sidewalk.

I feel horrible. So hurt that they attacked me like that, embarrassed that it happened right in front of a fellow volunteer, worried that our interaction might have turned them away from Bernie, and angry with myself for losing control. I might also be questioning… everything. All this passion, and where has it gotten me?

I did some phone banking after coming home. Mostly wrong numbers, no answers, and not homes. A couple of people laughed at me; one even said he felt sorry for me. (!) I identified some Bernie supporters, though, and a couple more volunteers. I hold on for the supporters and volunteers. I don’t know how much longer I can keep it up though.

It seems like I’m going to be running the office for the rest of the week. That basically means answering the door, signing volunteers in, training them, setting them up to phone bank, and sending them out to canvass. When I’m not doing those things I should be recruiting more volunteers or finding something else useful to do… but I think instead I’ll bring earbuds and watch YouTube videos.

I’ve been working in the local Bernie Sanders campaign office for at least a week now: recruiting volunteers, training people to canvass, even going out and knocking on doors myself. It used to be fun while K was there; we just seem to click, you know? Similar interests and personalities, it’s like we’re on the same wavelength. His jokes were what helped me overcome my anxiety about calling random strangers to ask them to volunteer. His leadership is what freed me to go out knocking on random strangers’ doors. He has expressed appreciation for my efforts, considered my ideas, empowered me to organize in my town, given me leadership roles. It’s awesome.

But now he’s not going to be around most of the time (he’s helping another office), and instead M is running the joint. She seems nice enough, but her entire demeanor is different. She’s very down to business. “That won’t work, you should do this.” Maybe it’s just that I’m tired; I had a very busy day yesterday and my heart wasn’t entirely in it – I really didn’t feel like making calls. So I emailed people who signed up for events without giving us their number and called potential volunteers. Nada.

I hadn’t planned on canvassing because my feet hurt from the day before, but I grabbed the list I’d started and went out anyway. Door after door after door, not home. Not home. Not home. Someone finally answers. “No, they’re not here.” “We’re having dinner.” “We’re all voting for Hillary.”

I swear, this is like a gambling addiction. I keep looking at the list: “Okay, they’re 23, they’ll probably be a Bernie supporter.” Not home. Or moved. “The light is on.” Not home. “Well, you never know, my mom’s in her 60s and she’s voting for Bernie.” … that one never ends well …

But every so often, for a few shining moments, I get to talk to someone who says, “Yeah, of course I’m voting for Bernie!” Those people tend to be “too busy” to volunteer, though. And on rare occasions I get to talk to an undecided voter and hopefully sway them toward Bernie, even if just a little bit. Last night, when someone said he supported Bernie but didn’t plan to vote, I asked why. He said he didn’t think he could vote in the primary because he’s not registered as a Democrat. Well, it turns out that in my state he can – he’ll just have to declare at the polls – so I told him. Hopefully this will mean 1 more vote for Bernie. Enough of those, and we win.

(Go to CanIVote.org to verify your registration and party affiliation, and for information about how to vote in your state’s primary. It’s a nonpartisan site.)

It’s hard, holding on for those moments. Just one more house. Maybe this will be it! No… oh, well, maybe this next one. Maybe this next one. My feet hurt, I’m hungry, I’m tired, and I’m using my phone as a flashlight. But I push myself to go to the next house, to be warm and friendly when I greet its occupant(s).

At one of the last houses I went to, there were 4 or 5 names on my list, but only one answered. She seemed determined to block access to the others. I introduced myself, asked my questions. “Well I’m definitely voting for Hillary.” “Can I give you a flyer for the other members of your household?” “No, we’re all well informed. We’re all voting for Hillary.” I might have raised an eyebrow. “And you know, I really think he should drop out. He’s made his point, now he should just stop!” I blinked, and talked about how I’m glad Bernie’s staying in the race so – after over a year of supporting him – I’ll finally get to vote. I don’t think she was listening, she seemed to think I was trying to persuade her to vote for him.

I checked in at the office, grabbed the stuff I’d left there, called my husband to apologize for being the worst spouse ever, and came home. I went to bed fuming.

I think, if I get another person like that, I might not be so polite. I get it, I’m knocking on your door completely out of the blue to talk to you about a candidate you don’t support. Fine. Most of the Hillary supporters I’ve talked to have been friendly. Many have thanked me for my activism. Some have even wished me “good luck.” (Which seems a little ironic, but I’ll take it.) It’s not so difficult to say “No, thank you.” I’ll even accept it if you simply refuse to talk to me.

But to tell me that Bernie should drop out of the race is completely unacceptable. If you have that opinion, fine, but it’s very rude to say so to a canvasser.

Bernie Sanders has spent his entire political career – longer than I’ve been alive – fighting for nearly everything I believe in. He is about as close to my ideal president as it’s possible to get. I have enthusiastically supported him since the day he announced he was running for president. I have donated to his campaign multiple times. I have held my breath awaiting the results of every caucus and primary. I have beaten myself up over the anxiety that prevented me from volunteering sooner. I have pushed myself a million miles outside my comfort zone and overcome agoraphobia (okay, “agoraphobic tendencies”) so I can participate fully in the political revolution.

Now Bernie’s campaign is in my state, and I’ve essentially made it my full time job. I’ve put everything else on hold for it. I’m tired, but I’m showing up at the office anyway. I haven’t eaten in 6 hours, but I’m standing on your porch smiling while you tell me that coming here was a waste of my time. My feet hurt and my shoes are crappy, but I’m walking down street after street anyway.

I’m doing all these things because I believe Bernie Sanders’ campaign – and especially the political revolution he’s incited – is the most important thing that has happened in my lifetime. I am proud to be a part of it and I will do everything I can to make sure it succeeds. I sincerely believe that he can win the general election even if he has to run as a third-party candidate. That he is the president this country needs. The world needs. I and my family and the millions of Americans who are less fortunate than we are need. Universal healthcare, pronto. Lower interest rates on student debt, or we may never be able to pay it off. Addressing climate change as the threat it is. Using the tax revenue from the wealthiest nation in the history of the world to educate our people, build up our communities, ensure the veterans who have sacrificed so much for our freedom have homes and income and receive any and all treatment they need.

Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who is talking openly about the need for better, immediately-accessible mental healthcare.

And I can think of nothing more feminist than an old white man who could easily retire and live comfortably doing everything in his power to empower those of us who have been marginalized, disenfranchised, made invisible, tread upon, taken for granted, and stolen from for decades.

Bernie promised that he will take his campaign all the way to the Democratic Convention; he needs every pledged delegate he can win to make the strongest case possible for why he should be the Democratic nominee. He has said, multiple times, that everyone in every state should have the opportunity to vote in this primary, to have our voices be heard. Every state – including mine. Every voice – including mine.

I have waited for over a year to vote for the person who I believe is the best presidential candidate this nation has ever seen. If you disagree with me, fine. Vote for whomever you please. Just do not tell me that my voice should be silenced. I have just as much right to vote for my candidate as you do for yours. I deserve to have a say in who the Democratic nominee for president will be.

To say anything else is completely and utterly disrespectful, a slap in the face, and I claim every right to defend myself.

I went to the doctor today. Turns out the thing that was torturing me for 4 days wasn’t a cyst… but a pimple! I laughed out loud when the doctor told me. She took care of it – which was very painful at the time, but now I feel completely better. (We’ll see how long that lasts once I start taking the antibiotics she prescribed.)

Also please do whatever you can to get out the vote for Bernie. I’m putting in way too much work and neglecting way too many of my physical needs for him to lose.

Transformation

Wow. I spent 2 days totaling 12 hours registering voters outside my town’s public library. 4 new democrats, 7 unaffiliated (who can declare party affiliation at the polls). I handed out several additional registration forms and information about my state’s and town’s upcoming primary.

Okay, the not-so-great stuff first:

  • I got a mild sunburn even though I was in the shade the whole time.
  • I spent most of my shift yesterday having a conversation with someone who talks like a Bernie supporter but actually supports Trump because she hates immigrants and people in the US who are undocumented. Despite being an otherwise reasonable, educated person, she would not listen to rational arguments about why a Trump presidency would be disastrous for her and “[her] people.”
    • That person seemed to be manipulating my voter registration efforts, worst of all by saying bad things about Latinos while people who looked like they might be Latino/a were walking by.
    • She said stuff about LGBTQIA people that made me feel uncomfortable – and misgendered me.
    • I didn’t know how to ask her to leave.
  • I seem to have developed a cyst in a most awkward location as a result of sitting for too long wearing tight jeans. It’s painful enough to affect how I walk. I’m reluctant to go to the doctor because 1) I might have to wait a long time for them to be able to see me 2) I don’t know if I’ll be able to set the boundary that I only want them to deal with that specific problem 3) the word “surgical” was included in the description of how the cyst is typically treated. (If you’re so inclined, please pray, send positive energy, etc. for it to heal on its own.)
  • I seem to have forgotten what “regular meals” are.

In much better news, I feel like I’ve transformed overnight. I had been “developing agoraphobic tendencies,” feeling unmotivated to do anything, intimidated by the idea of contacting voters or recruiting volunteers, and depressed that I was “wasting my life.”

Then I started working with the current regional manager for the campaign and everything changed. I spent 2 days outside where anyone could see me calling out to random strangers and talking to them about the primary. I dealt gracefully with people who said weird things to me, like implying that my efforts were futile or that I had “nothing better to do” with my time. (grr.) I received a number of compliments from people who were grateful for the convenience, found my information sheet informative, or found me helpful. I even got the satisfaction of knowing that high school students who are too young to vote are interested in it. I’d love to recruit some of them for Bernie’s campaign! (Dunno where/whether it’s legal for me to do that, though.)

After my shift yesterday, instead of being exhausted and wanting to get away from people, I was eager to get back to work for Bernie’s campaign. When doing voter registration I couldn’t represent the campaign – at least not officially – so I couldn’t wait to shed the illusion of “impartiality” and go talk to people who aren’t walking contradictions. I got to the office late because I needed to eat something, but then I spent a couple hours recruiting volunteers – many of whom were enthusiastic to have the opportunity to go knock on doors of potential voters.

Remember when I said knocking on the doors of strangers was the last thing I wanted to do? Now I can’t wait!

I also figure I should do it myself at least once before I get to be the one training people and sending them out Monday night.

I am so happy I’m alive because I get to do all this stuff! I love feeling so energized. I get to do something about all the things I’ve wanted to change in the US for years now; I get to act on the things I’m most passionate about. There’s a real, meaningful role for me to play – and I’m doing it right now.

I’m also thinking a bit about my career: The leadership opportunities I’m engaging in will look great on my resume. My current and upcoming regional managers, as well as the co-leader for my town, may be willing to serve as references. Resume and whatnot aside, the experience I’m getting is fantastic for my personal and professional growth. I feel so much more confident that I can do this stuff – because I’m doing it!!! This is fantastic!!!

I’m very fortunate in that I can decide this is the most important thing for me to do, and I can choose to pour all my time and energy into it. I’m determined to make a difference!

Run, Bernie, Run (all the way to the White House)

an image of Bernie Sanders with a blue background and the text "Petition Bernie to run as Inependent"

I recently posted about why I’ve joined the “Bernie or Bust” movement – why I will not compromise regarding my vote for U.S. President. A lot of people say it’s important for Democrats and people who lean Democrat to unite behind the nominee – regardless of who it is – in order to avoid a Trump presidency. The concern about what could happen if Trump were to become president is valid, but I don’t want to be dictated by fear, or to vote for the “lesser of two evils.” And frankly, a lot of polls have been consistently showing that Bernie is the Democratic candidate who has the best chances of winning the general election (Bernie has +13.4 chance vs Hillary’s +6.5).

a chart with a blue line representing Bernie Sanders' poll results above a red line representing Trump's

chart from RealClearPolitics.com showing Bernie’s considerable lead over Trump in polls since January 1, 2016

 

a chart with a blue line representing Hillary Clinton's poll results above a red line representing Trump's

chart from RealClearPolitics.com showing Hillary’s less impressive lead over Trump in polls since January 1, 2016

I’ve been saying for a while now that those of us who support not only Bernie but the political revolution, who want our government to be truly for and by the people, need to unite and vote for him in November – regardless of whether he is the Democratic nominee. In my post (link above) I asked readers to email an individual who is building a campaign for Bernie to run as an Independent, should the need arise. (Our first goal, of course, is for him to win the Democratic primary.)

an image of Bernie Sanders with a blue background and the text "Petition Bernie to run as Inependent"

a screenshot of the 4Berni.com website

Well, it took less than 2 weeks for the movement to gain over 2000 supporters! We now have our own website – 4Berni.com – which features a petition for him to run as an Independent if necessary. Our goal is to reach 2 million signatures in time to deliver the petition at the Democratic Convention in June.

If you’re a Bernie supporter, if you need access to healthcare, if you are not a multi-millionaire, if you are a member of a group that is regularly discriminated against, if you have student debt, if you want our planet to remain hospitable to human and other life, if you want people’s well-being to be prioritized over profits, etc. Please get involved in Bernie’s (official) campaign (for the Democratic nomination). Please commit to voting for him – in your state’s caucus or primary if you haven’t already, and in the general election on November 8th. (Visit CanIvote.org for information about your voter status, how to register, and how to vote.)

Please also sign the petition for Bernie Sanders to run as an Independent if he is not chosen as the Democratic nominee.

An image of a form including text boxes requesting one's email address, first and last name, zip code, and information about willingness to volunteer. Below the text boxes is a check box to receive updates and the submit button.

an image of the petition form on 4Berni.com

The form to sign the petition includes a space where you can describe the level of involvement you want to have in building a campaign for Bernie to WIN the presidency as an Independent candidate. It automatically registers petition signers to receive updates via email, but you can opt out by un-checking the box. This is an independent petition not linked to any of the popular online petition sites.

I think, if it’s ever been likely for a 3rd-party candidate to win an election, this is it. Bernie is the only candidate with a positive favorability rating. He’s “YUGE”-ly popular with non-affiliated and young voters. He’s been drawing massive crowds at rallies, inspiring marches, people have even made murals of him. He’s the person who has really made this campaign about the issues that are important to everyday Americans from day one. He is running a successful grassroots campaign that is entirely dependent on individual donations, and he has inspired record voter turnout.

He is also the only candidate who has outright stated that mental healthcare should be easily accessible for everyone.

So, yeah. Bernie or Bust! Are you in?