Who votes when I vote, or: Why Bernie?

by Julia Alvarez

I vote with all my self/selves, and among them, there is a small Dominican girl who grew up in a ruthless dictatorship, supported for many years by the US government/administration; the ten year old immigrant girl who arrived in Nueva York and felt unwelcomed and who grew up to become a young woman who had to work twice as hard as a Latina and as a female — this before the days of affirmative action and equal rights amendment kicked into gear — to prove she was as qualified and worthy as her white male counterparts; the teacher who has worked with a diversity of students over the course of four decades; the “Vermonter” living in the Latino/diversity-compromised state of Vermont (not Bernie’s fault, by the way) who has worked with Mexican migrant workers in local dairy farms, tutoring their kids, connecting them with health care, joining others to decriminalize their presence, gain them driver’s licenses, legal representation; a citizen who along with her husband, Dr. Bill Eichner, has sought to bring a single payer health care system to Vermont, and worked with others in support of the Marriage Equality Act.

In other words, just as we are a diverse nation, so am I a diverse self — I contain multitudes, along with mi amigo Whitman — and that diversity goes into the polling booth and tries to choose the candidate who can most honor that diversity of selves in me, in each of us, and in our disunited United States of America he or she will have to work to unite.

Bernie does not necessarily address all these selves or issues — he has had to represent the state he represents, after all! What I do trust is his integrity and the quality of his attention and his decency. On many occasions during his long career of service I have witnessed his nuanced thoughtfulness, his vigorous advocacy for those in need, his commitment to social justice issues and his moral compass always navigating his political course — even when the poll winds blew in other directions.

Julia Alvarez has written novels (How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, In the Time of the Butterflies, ¡Yo!, In the Name of Salomé, Saving the World), collections of poems (Homecoming, The Other Side/ El Otro Lado, The Woman I Kept to Myself), nonfiction (Something to Declare, Once Upon A Quinceañera, A Wedding in Haiti), and numerous books for young readers (including the Tía Lola Stories series, Before We Were Free, finding miracles, and Return to Sender). A recipient of a 2013 National Medal of Arts, Alvarez is currently a writer in residence at Middlebury College.