A Perspective on Bernie Sanders’ Campaign, From A 20 Year Old
Bernie Sanders’ campaign was a true milestone in the history of American politics, and will hopefully be remembered as such. His emergence from seemingly nowhere to nearly being the nominee for President of the United States in what has been dubbed the “social media election” has been nothing short of astounding. He went from being a small Independent player in the Senate from the tiny state of Vermont to arguably being one of the most powerful figures in politics today.
First of all, for those who do not know, I am a 20-year-old student from California who lives just outside San Francisco. I am studying Network Security at a private college in Arizona. I have grown up in an upper-middle-class, lower-upper-class family with my parents, brother, and occasional pets. Other than my Dad being unemployed for around 12–18 months after the 2008 Great Recession, nothing really terrible has happened to us. We go on vacation to see our family each year and keep buying the latest gadgets and such.
Despite this, I still wanted to begin voting as soon as I could. Just after I turned 18, I registered as a No-Party-Preference (NPP) voter, or Independent, for those of you outside California. I didn’t want to attach myself to either side, though I lean heavily towards the Democrats rather than the Republicans, believing in marriage equality, protecting the environment from climate change, and ensuring everyone has a fair shot at living in the United States.
I changed party affiliation from NPP to Democrat around March 2015, since the election coverage was starting, according to the cable news networks and my social media feed. I didn’t even know what I did made it easier for me to vote, as California has a semi-closed primary, meaning it’s open for state positions and the US House and Senate, but it is closed for the President. I just switched because I just happened to decide to. But in June 2016, I was going to vote for Hillary Clinton, because who else was running? The way the media talks about candidates makes it seem that there are only two, and at the time those two were Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. Of course, then Donald Trump came in, but I will put my perspective in on that phenomena later, in another post.
But after I mentioned this on Twitter, one of my friends on the site that there was another person running, Bernie Sanders. At first I was like, “Who is Bernie Sanders?” But as I Googled him, I found out he had been serving in the Senate for a long time, since 1990. He also agreed with me on many issues, including opposing the TPP, overturning Citizens United, reforming the healthcare system in many ways, taxing the wealthy more, and more.
I then found out he was having a rally in Phoenix in July 2015, which I attended. I got a sign for myself, which I still have. I was shocked at how many people were there, as it was my first political rally I had ever been to. There were over 11,000 people at that rally, including old, young, white, minorities, and everyone in between. I even found myself cheering for him along with everyone else, getting into the spirit. I then made my first donation to him, which was only $10, but any amount helped. His average contribution amount throughout his campaign would turn out to be just $27, which still astounds me to do this day.
I then fully started to believe in him, making contributions every so often and even volunteering. I was now fully committed to getting the word out, with telling people I was supporting him and explaining why I chose him over Clinton. I watched every debate and even found more people I agree with him online, as the news cycle was still counting him out even after he won several states early on including upsets in states such as Minnesota, Oklahoma, Michigan, Indiana, and others.
I found The Young Turks on YouTube, who, unlike CNN or MSNBC, I know exactly how they’re biased. They’re also not owned by a giant corporate company, such as CNN being owned by Time Warner and MSNBC being owned by Comcast, both of which are very afraid of people like Sanders, who would make them rightfully pay more taxes.
I was also learning for the first time that voter fraud also happens in our country. For being the “the greatest country on Earth,” we sure have a lot of problems. Going to school in Arizona, I saw that hundreds of polling places had been closed, resulting in people waiting in line for hours on end.
That was later noted to be deliberate by the Arizona Secretary of State in an interview. It was also heavily noted in the testimonies offered by Arizona residents of both parties in the weeks following the voting day, which I watched live over the Internet.
That issue was never truly resolved; however, I am hopeful it will be before November’s final election country-wide. The same thing, however, happened in New York in April, with hundreds of thousands of people being purged, who could have gone to either party they were registered as before.
Needless to say, I, along with millions of other Bernie supporters, were looking at the biggest state in the primary, California. Being my home state, I immediately volunteered and filed the paperwork to run to be a delegate for Bernie and potentially to go Philadelphia, where the DNC is currently happening this week. During the first week of May between the semesters, I ran to be a delegate. I lost, but I ensured that people were going to the DNC with all our interests combined, there being nearly 100 of us present at the meeting in our district. I also helped with voter registration later that same week, getting a dozen people to register to vote or change their party so they could vote.
As far as I know, there has been no outright voter fraud, except that the AP called the race before it had even started, on the day before the primary. They only asked the Superdelegates, who are not elected by the people as the delegates but are party insiders, former politicians, and even some lobbyists.
After the extensive amount of time it took to count ballots, Bernie did manage to flip a few counties after election night was over. He flipped San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, Yolo County, and others, even after the media stopped covering him. But by April, I no longer trusted it, instead watching The Young Turks online, who later put out a 40-minute video about all the issues in California.
Of course, now, we are at the DNC with our new Democratic Party Platform. I’m glad Bernie was able for the platform to include a $15 minimum wage, carbon pricing, numerous positions on reforming Wall Street, and more. However, I am very disappointed that they did not pass opposition to the TPP, who Obama wants to pass and who Hillary Clinton had said once that it was the “gold standard” of trade agreements. One of her top allies, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, recently also said that she would flip on the issue, similar to how Bill Clinton flipped on NAFTA after he was elected and passed it, decimating our economy to this day. By the way, Governor McAuliffe also happens to be under investigation for campaign contributions. However, he recently restored 200,000 former felons voting rights, so that’s a positive for him.
I was planning to stay registered as a Democrat and vote Blue this fall, but now I have re-registered to Green and am unsure if I will vote Blue after the massive leak of emails from the DNC were released by WikiLeaks last weekend. They were critical of his campaign and even his religion, of which he and I share, Judaism (although I lean more Agnostic). I am registered in California so I can give my vote to a third-party, since it will be won by Democrats regardless, unlike a state such as Idaho or Texas. But I shall cross that bridge in October, when voting begins. I actually created how I think an electoral map would work out, based on my guesses, and I even threw the Libertarians a bone in Utah, because in that state they heavily voted against Trump in the primary there in March.
But Bernie Sanders has inspired millions of people to be actively involved in the political system and reverse the growing corporate oligarchy currently in control of the country and restore a democracy for the people. Even I now want in on the political sphere and want to run for office someday, after serving under someone already in power, such as my Representative or otherwise. And that’s the true testament about Bernie. He may not have won the battle, but he won the war.