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.