On Endorsing Senator Bernie Sanders for President — Paving a New Path for the Democratic Party
15th Ward Alderwomen in St. Louis City’s Introductory Remarks for Senator Bernie Sanders at the Family Arena in St. Charles, MO. March 14, 2016.
Good evening. I’m Alderwoman Megan Ellyia Green representing the vibrant and diverse 15th Ward in the City of St. Louis. Senator Bernie Sanders gives a young elected official like myself a lot of hope. I ran for office over a year ago with a strong desire to represent “the people.” I was a reform candidate, obsessed with a vision of what St. Louis could be if only we had government that served the interests of people.
Like Senator Sanders, I was the definite underdog. I found myself having to run as an Independent after the Democratic Party establishment chose an insider for the democratic ticket in the Special Election. Our campaign had something that the other candidates didn’t have, a strong work ethic and a message rooted in equity.
I had declared by candidacy five days before Michael Brown was killed and two days after my election, Vonderett Meyers was killed by a private security officer. My constituents took the streets in protest. A little over a month later I would be out in the streets, getting tear gassed, with my constituents protesting after the non-indictment of Darren Wilson.
Little did I know that standing with the people, would have consequences.
In my next election, 5 months later, because of my activism, Ferguson WAS the election. The establishment, outspent me 4–1 to get me out of office, launched a massive smear campaign, and called those of us who were in the streets protesting “outside agitators,” the same verbiage that was used to discredit MLK and Malcolm X. Our message persevered and we won the election, and won BIG, with 73% of the vote. The establishment didn’t know the people.
See to me, leadership means walking the walk, not just talking the talk. Whether it’s getting arrested fighting segregated housing in the Civil Rights movement, or walking a picket line in 2015, Senator Sanders walks the walk.
I’m supporting Senator Sanders because, unlike the establishment, he knows the people. Senator Sanders understands the intersection of race and economics in the Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and the Fight for $15 movements, and that collectively these movements demonstrate a growing hunger among Americans to create an equitable society that works for all people.
Senator Sanders is leading a movement to bring us back to what the Democratic Party should be. At its core, this election is a fight for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party and the country. Bernie Sanders is our messenger, our facilitator, our wake-up call.
He is reminding us that the Democratic Party stands for the New Deal, which unleashed the strongest economic growth in the Twentieth Century; for the Space Program, which unleashed one of the strongest waves of innovation in human history; for the Great Society, which recognized that all citizens should have an opportunity to benefit from this economic development and that as a Country we are only as strong as strong as our weakest link. The great Missouri Democrat, Harry S Truman, expressed the aspirations of the Democratic Party when he said, “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” — Senator Sanders exemplifies what the Democratic Party should be.
We have to stand for something, or we stand for nothing. Senator Sanders is forcing us to stand for something. He is sounding the alarm for the future of the Democratic Party and the country. We need to take heed.
Senator Sanders is about taking back our Democratic Party and forcing us to walk the walk. He is about owning our liberalism and democratic socialism, as these ideas form the basis of really popular government programs, such as Social Security, MediCare, public education, and public transit. He is taking back the narrative that “big government is bad” and replacing it with the narrative that big government is good so long as it is focused on raising the standard of living of people at home rather than committing us to ongoing war abroad.
Senator Sanders is about consistency. Bernie is about being non-negotiable in the belief that all people truly are created equal. He is about having the courage to stand up and fight for Civil Rights and LGBT rights before it was acceptable in the mainstream to do so.
Senator Sanders is about judgment. He’s been quoted in 1994 as saying “we can either educate or electrocute. We can create meaningful jobs, rebuilding our society, or we can build more jails.” Thus recognizing over 20 years ago that investing in prisons and police over poverty prevention programs was not the solution to our crime issues, a realization that as a society we are only beginning to grasp today.
Senator Sanders is about possibilities. He is about taking us back to the party that says, “Yes, we can,” rather than “No, we can’t.” Senator Sanders is about dreaming big and knowing that even if we do not get all the way to our end goals of Medicare-for-All, free public college, and a $15 minimum wage, we will still get a lot farther than if we choose to say it’s not possible and never even try.
In sum, I’m endorsing Senator Sanders because this election is about so much more than the democratic socialist Senator from Vermont. It is about channeling the rage and anger from the disenfranchised masses into a political revolution to change the course of politics in America. It’s time to wake up. It’s time for us as a nation to catch up to issues Senator Sanders has been talking about for 30 years. Senator Sanders is the future, and the future is now.
Megan Ellyia Green is an Alderwoman in the City of St. Louis