Tired of old white men running things?

Then get out there and vote for, canvass for, be vocal for…

photo credit: Sanders campaign

…Bernie Sanders

January 31, the day that the Senate voted to hear no witnesses in a “trial” for impeachment, I decided to do something very positive, put my energy toward an outcome that I might be able to influence, in whatever small way. I went to a Bernie Sanders ‘barnstorm’ — essentially a mini local rally to set up volunteers to go canvassing over the weekend.

I’ve been supporting Bernie since 2015. I’ve attended many events, beginning with Long Beach, CA, where the audience was largely Caucasian and middle aged or older. From that day, there has been a steady progression toward the demographics that I see now at Sanders gatherings — mostly young, more female than male, and a majority people of color. Not surprisingly perhaps, this demographic mix mirrors what the future of this country, and particularly its power structure, is destined to look like.

This January 31 volunteer event was run entirely by women. It was marked by numerous calls for inclusion, by an acknowledgment that the land upon which we met was taken from the native Tongva people, and by admonitions to all volunteers to never, ever be combative when canvassing. “But what if we knock on a door and the person is leaning toward another candidate?” “Then share why you are excited personally to be with the Sanders movement. Do not argue. Do not put down another candidate. Remember, they are hearing this from a stranger. Your personal story is the most powerful thing you can share. And keep it positive.”

I share this anecdote to illustrate what I believe sets the Sanders movement apart from other campaigns — it is rooted in compassion. This is a movement to bring into being a fully just society, offering dignity to all.

Some may say, “But Bernie is just another old white guy.” My answer is that this campaign, more than any other I’ve encountered, is about the people in the movement, so much more than it is about Bernie. Bernie is fully aware that he is a useful and temporary galvanizing tool for multiple movements that have been doing the hard work of organizing for decades.

I am personally excited because for the first time ever in my 54 years, there is a path to victory for the causes I’ve cared about for my entire life.

In the spirit of the canvasser’s approach, here’s a bit of my personal story, and why I support the Sanders movement.

At age 12, at a New Jersey statewide gathering of young scholars, we tackled the question of how to improve health care in the U.S. Hundreds of young people came to the researched conclusion that single-payer was our best way forward. 42 years later, Medicare for All is within reach.

At age 15, I was demonstrating with half a million people in New York’s Central Park to avoid nuclear war.

At age 18, I was protesting apartheid to get the University of California Regents to divest from South Africa. UC did divest, and helped apartheid crumble.

In my twenties:

I participated in defenses of women’s health clinics to protect women’s right to choose.

I organized protests against the first invasion of Iraq. On the day the bombing started, I spent the day in jail with hundreds of other peace activists for trying to stop the war before it started.

I knocked on doors for Jobs with Peace, and California Public Interest Research Group.

In my thirties:

I ran for Mayor of L.A. in the world’s first fully webcast campaign. Our campaign was an early attempt to use the internet to break the stranglehold of big money in our politics. The Sanders campaign has finally broken through and formed a movement large enough to challenge the big money that rules our elections and our government.

I worked as Field Director for Dennis Kucinich’s presidential campaign. His campaign shared many ideals with the current Sanders approach, but he was the wrong spokesperson and it was too early. (Dennis did share with us some important information useful for when one side is trying to cheat in an election — a landslide overcomes cheating every time.)

I worked to regulate cannabis like we do alcohol, blazing a trail for both medical and adult-use laws across the country. Our drug laws are finally changing, and the social justice that comes with it is following.

In my forties:

I expanded my Joyful Activist volunteer group to accomplish one day flash mob type events to plant gardens, paint murals, and bring people together in community improvement events.

I wrote about the importance of millions of people taking small actions to instigate real lasting change. How the power lies in shifting each person’s notion from their insignificance, to their utter importance. Millions of us doing just our part, makes all the difference.

So — my Bernie story involves decades of quite small strides to improve health and wellness, protect the environment, end the drug war, curb the military industrial complex, expand women’s rights, spread hope through joyful activism…

And then, finally, a major political campaign, one really built on grassroots support, comes along that says, let’s tackle all of it. Let’s think big. Let’s finally build this world we know is possible. Let’s take on all the corruption and greed that is keeping the vast majority of our people from thriving, and killing our planet. Let’s embrace the needs of all our people, of our planet, and wrap it into one campaign that has its immediate sights on the presidency, but its long-term sights on the fundamental remaking of this cultural landscape. Away from domination, toward compassion. Away from extraction, toward regeneration. Away from corruption, toward inclusion.

So yes, my personal Bernie story is that the campaign represents all the best aspects of the human condition, with compassion for others at its core, and attracts exactly the sorts of people I want organizing our society.

The time is now. I urge you to vote for the one movement that can not only beat Trump, but beat back the forces that gave rise to him.

The systemic rot that made a Trump presidency possible is rooted in the fact that every single one of our institutions is being bought and dictated by the lobbyists for companies that should be regulated by those institutions. We must back a candidate who is beholden to no lobbyists, no Super PACs, so we can have a chance to stamp out the corruption that has become so commonplace.

NY Times, February 1, 2020

In order to make possible the change we seek, not only in policy direction, but also in who can afford to run for election and win, we need to upend how our elections are financed, and prevent lobbyists from writing our laws. Only the Sanders campaign has the immense grassroots backing necessary to, possibly and with relentless effort, pull off such a feat. And when we change our corrupt electoral system, we will see a wave of candidates come forward, and win. As we take down the enormous barriers to entry into our electoral process, women, and in particular women of color, will take their rightful place in many positions of power. And we will see our first of many female presidents, with a grassroots nation to back them up. Immediately, I would expect a female Vice President in a Sanders administration, with a cabinet at least 50 percent female, with many women of color.

This campaign says proudly, “We the people are in charge. This is ours to win. For each other. Not for Bernie. For each other.”

And that’s why no other campaign has anywhere near the fortitude nor the grassroots support required to:

· Address climate change and environmental degradation

· Phase out the fossil fuel industry

· Curtail Big Pharma

· Stop Wall Street crooks

· Break the stranglehold of the military industrial complex

· Abolish the private prison industry

Here are Executive orders under consideration by the campaign, set for the first days of a Sanders presidency:

  • Declare climate change a national emergency and ban crude oil exports
  • Legalize marijuana through the Department of Justice
  • Abolish private prisons
  • Allow the importation of prescription drugs from Canada
  • Reinstate the Obama-era program granting legal status to undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children
  • Compel the Department of Homeland Security to stop ICE raids

This is the moment to make real the society that we’ve only wished for until now. It can be scary to realize that the future we’ve been striving for is actually within our grasp. It can be intimidating to hope too much. But I implore you to face that fear along with me, and build the future we desire.

I endorse this movement — this grassroots possibility to reclaim our democracy — and that means electing the current lightning rod around which the many movements can coalesce, Bernie Sanders.

So please, let’s end the parade of old white men being in charge. Vote for a movement full of people that truly represent the United States. Support the movement giving us Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Nina Turner, the next incoming class of women in Congress, and so many more powerful women of color. Support the campaign that is largely female organized. Support the movement that looks and feels like the country you want to live in.

Vote for Bernie Sanders. And do more than vote, meet fellow Sanders supporters wherever you are. Strive together. Canvass with compassion. Phone bank with integrity. Invite others to join in this joyous movement to help each other build a just society. Help make the movement unstoppable.

Not Me. Us.

NY Times, February 1, 2020

I thrive on solving problems — big ones and small ones, for individuals, organizations, and society at large.