Dear New York Voters: Please Vote For Bernie Sanders. Thank YOU! From Patty in Michigan

A letter from a loyal fan of New York who just loves you so much (And, How Candidates Are Influenced By Deep-Pocket Donors)

Photo by @mattferraro (on Instagram). Thousands cheer Bernie at chilly rally!

Dear New York Voters:

I love you so much and I have for most of my life. It started in 1979 when my parents packed my brother and me into our blue Buick LeSabre for our big trip to visit our relatives who lived on Long Island. The car was over packed with everything we needed — and much more we didn’t — for our two-day drive to North Babylon. We spent the night in Akron after a bit of car trouble and stayed at a seedy independent motel. I didn’t realize it was seedy, of course, due to my lack of experience with overnight accommodations.

I was thirteen. It was my first travel opportunity outside of Michigan (except for small trips hardly over the border of Ohio and Ontario — which don’t really count as travelling to Michiganians). It was dawn when we pulled out of our driveway in Tawas City, Michigan. My mother always described our home — which my father designed and built — as a Cape Cod Colonial. I’m not sure if it really was. It had vinyl siding and a crooked pear tree that was fruitful despite its unfortunate fate of having been planted directly under the power lines that spanned the front edge of our lawn. Years ago new owners cut that tree down — due to the power-line issue, I suppose. My father was a faithful Democrat, small-business owner and father of seven — five were out of the nest by the time we dared venture to New York. He had so many fish to fry that he wasn’t always blessed with ideal foresight. I get that. Life can be pretty overwhelming sometimes for the working class. Others might describe our family as middle class. My parents never went to college but half of their children did. My dad, though, always considered us working class.

He Worked Hard For His Money… Dad struggled to make it as a small business owner and when money was tight he closed shop and drove an hour and a half to Saginaw to work in a foundry. There were a few periods when we lived on an unemployment check because he couldn’t achieve work in Saginaw, either. Dad had some ornery qualities and the determination of a hero. More often than not, he supported a family of nine as the owner of a business that did pattern-making, tool-and-dye and other mysterious, manly things.

I cried through Pennsylvania because I was reading Love Story and it was utterly devastating. My brother, Tommy, was incredibly annoyed. My parents were pretty focused on chain smoking during the long car ride and didn’t pay too much attention to arguments in the back seat. I had a need for expression and positive reinforcement. Since we were on our way to New York I found it necessary to sing Billy Joel songs and demonstrate my mastery of lyrics. Unfortunately for Tommy, Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.

New York. My Kind Of Town… We pulled into Uncle Ronnie and Aunt Natalie’s house late at night — but not too late for dessert after our long car ride. Aunt Natalie made cheesecake from what she always said was the original Lindy’s recipe. What’s not to love about New York when it starts with cheesecake at 11 o’clock at night? In the morning there were bagels — my first bagels! Seriously, I’d never had them before. Uncle Ronnie had gone out early and picked them up freshly baked.

Honestly New York, you had me at cheesecake and bagels.

We rode the train into Manhattan and Uncle Ronnie pointed out the Amityville Horror house on the way. Amazing. We didn’t have houses that became famous movie settings in Tawas City. In Manhattan we rode subways and taxis and walked block after block after block. Uncle Ronnie wanted us to have the total New York City experience. We went to Fulton’s Fish Market, the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center. I pressed my face right up to the glass of the floor-length window 100 stories above the sidewalk and looked down at the bustling city, the maize of yellow cabs, the stream of people with their packages and suitcases, small as ants and moving like them. It was quiet up there at the top of the World Trade Center but I could hear the sounds of the streets below in my heart — the horns, the voices, the swish of traffic, the ticking traffic lights. “I just love New York,” I said over and over before and after we returned to Michigan. I bought the T-Shirt. We went to Jones Beach. It was too cold to swim but I loved the idea of it. On the way home we stayed at Niagara Falls and reentered Michigan through Port Huron.

Since then, I’ve returned to New York several times — for conferences, vacationing and to visit the family of my boyfriend who was raised in Greenwich Village. I could tell you all sorts of things about more recent trips to the city. But this wisdom of Cat Stevens holds true: the first cut is the deepest.

How New Yorkers Can Make History Next Week… I hope the length of my introduction didn’t detract New Yorkers from the reason why I am writing to you today: to urge you to vote for Bernie Sanders. I wanted to express how I feel truly bonded to all of you in New York on a heart level. If you can feel our connection, I want to ask you a favor: Please vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders in the New York Primary Election, April 19. Please bring family members and friends to vote with you. If there is large voter turnout, Bernie will win.

If you’ve listened to Bernie Sanders speak, you know what an outstanding candidate he is and — like the majority of Democrats in the United States — you agree he would do a great job “if” he is elected. His opponent wants you to believe he cannot be elected. The truth is, Bernie Sanders does better than her in the national polls against all Republicans because he attracts a high number of Independent voters and quite a few disillusioned Republicans. Bernie is better positioned to win in November because he has enthusiasm on his side. It fuels voter turnout and that’s crucial in the General Election.

For Certain People, Hillary Really Might Be A Better Choice… If you make more than $250,000 a year and you are more interested in the bottom line of your tax bill than you are in free state college tuition and ensuring all Americans have easy access to healthcare and prescriptions, Hillary Clinton might truly be a better choice for you. But most Democrats don’t fit into that small box. I urge you not to let the opinions of the influential few who do fit that box control the fate of the majority our party.

If you come from a family that’s more like my family, Bernie Sanders is unequivocally the clear choice for you. He has been fighting tirelessly for hard working Americans his whole life. When it was not popular, he stood up to Wall Street. When it was not popular, he stood up against the Iraq War. When it was not popular, he participated in the Civil Rights Movement.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who grew up in a 3-room rent controlled apartment in Brooklyn is the son of immigrant parents. His father lost several close family members in the Holocaust. He understands the plight of immigrants and hard working people on a deep level because he has lived through many of our same challenges.

Get Ready To Defy Pollsters And Pull A Michigan… I love you, New York voters. Team Hillary wants you to think Bernie doesn’t have a chance so, even if you really like him, you’d be better off to vote for her or just stay home and watch TV. Don’t believe it! Bernie has an excellent chance of winning if you step up and do what’s necessary. The day we voted in Michigan, polls agreed there was a 99 percent chance Bernie Sanders would be defeated here. But we listened to Bernie and not the TV personalities. We told our friends and neighbors about Bernie. We arrived at the polls early and we brought like-minded voters with us then spent the rest of election day encouraging others to get to the polls — or to stay in line if they were already there (Tip from Michigan: Take water, cookies and snacks to the polling places with long lines and thank voters for being patient).

Why Hillary vs Bernie matters… There is a stark difference between Hillary and Bernie. Make no mistake, Bernie Sanders is not fighting against Hillary Clinton. He is fighting against her owners. Hillary has some good ideas, too, and I’ve no doubt she cares about people. But she is in a vastly different position to follow through with her goals because she has taken umpteen millions of dollars from Wall Street, lobbyists for the Fossil Fuel industry and other special interests. In fact, Bill and Hillary Clinton together have accepted more than $93 million from Wall Street toward their various political campaigns alone — and millions more for paid speeches.

You Can’t Bite The Hand That Feeds You… Have you ever bitten a hand that fed you? Have you ever declined to accept money from someone because you weren’t willing to succumb to their influence? Bernie Sanders has — often. He refused to take money from special interests and lobbyists in this presidential election because he feels passionately that every vote should matter — no matter a person’s financial standing. He made it a point to return a large donation from Martin Shkreli, the CEO who gauged AIDS patients with outrageous drug price hikes. Bernie Sanders is thoughtful about the gifts he accepts. Hillary isn’t. When asked why she accepted more than $600,000 in speaking fees from Goldman-Sachs since leaving her post as Secretary of State, she said, “that’s what they offered.”

Many women of my generation can probably understand this issue because we have had a love interest offer a gift that seemed too expensive or personal too early in a relationship. We were keenly aware that such gifts are never free and the suiter was seeking to gain influence over our lives. When gifts are offered we must practice good judgement — not accept them because “it’s what was offered.” Hillary Clinton lacks judgement when it comes to receiving gifts — so does Bill.

When her poor judgement is mentioned, Hillary clouds the issue by pointing out that President Obama and other admirable political leaders also have accepted large campaign donations from special interests. That tactic is just a way to draw attention from her repeated missteps. Yes, President Barack Obama, whom I deeply admire, has accepted some pretty significant campaign donations during his career. But that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have preferred to be in the position Bernie Sanders is in now (thanks to 6 million individual donations averaging $27). Who wouldn’t prefer to be free from obligation to deep-pocket donors?

It’s not about Bernie being “better” than President Barack Obama — or anyone else… When President Obama ran for office the grass-roots movement that’s fueling Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign hadn’t yet achieved its current strength. That doesn’t mean Sen. Bernie Sanders is better person than President Obama. It means progressive Democrats are more organized with regard to fundraising than they were eight years ago. In order to be competitive, President Obama may have had to accept some larger donations. More than 6 million small individual donations to Bernie Sanders’ campaign have put him in a unique position — a position no other presidential candidate has ever enjoyed in my lifetime. Bernie can go the distance on a campaign only funded by We The People.

As much as I love and respect President Obama, and as much as I don’t like to be overly direct, this needs to be said: voters would be daft to think President Obama’s effectiveness wasn’t curbed by large- special- interest donations. Anybody’s would be.

Big special interest donations matter. On April 19 New York voters have a unique historical opportunity to say “Enough is Enough! We are tired of Wall Street, the Fossil Fuel industry and other special interests buying elections and owning our leaders.”

Please also understand that Hillary Clinton’s fundraising from Wall Street and other special interests is on an entirely different level than President Barack Obama’s ever was. The Washington Post reported last summer that Bill and Hillary Clinton have amassed a fundraising empire unsurpassed by any American family — greater even than the Bush family’s fundraising achievement. Through fundraising the pair has amassed more than $3 billion in about 40 years.

Does that mean anything? Heck yes! It means the Clintons are seriously beholden to people — lots of very wealthy and influential people. Some of those donors — Goldman Sachs, Monsanto, Walmart — have goals that are in direct opposition to the goals of most Democratic voters. Other major Clinton donors are less dubious than Wall Street Banks and huge Multinational Corporations — but they still wield heavy influence — much, much more influence than any single voter who has donated a few dozen bucks to Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

Maybe Hillary Clinton could step into office as President of the United States and bite the hands that have fed the Clinton Fundraising Empire for decades. That would be a spectacular feat that defies the rules of human nature.

Why try to sail in a boat that’s weighted down with so much baggage when there’s another option for Democrats? I recall how my father’s Buick LeSabre was packed so full of luggage when my family headed off on our big trip to New York in 1979. The heavy load may have contributed to our break-down in Akron. Can you picture that same blue Buick pulling a heaping trailer of suitcases, topped with a six-foot-tall wrack of luggage on its roof?

Imagine if you had the opportunity to take a long car trip with a car that was weighted down by so many tons of baggage. It would probably eventually get you where you wanted to go. But wouldn’t it be better if you could just get in a car with a small suitcase of essentials and drive?

Do what makes sense, not what feels familiar… The choice Tuesday in New York’s Democratic Primary is like that. Hillary Clinton, in many ways, is a pretty good ride. She’s comfortable and familiar to Americans, no doubt. But like the overloaded Buick, she is heavily weighted with the burdens that are a huge drag. Bernie Sanders has the freedom to drive the Democratic Party to success in achieving our goals because he is not weighted down with the baggage of responsibility to deep-pocket donors whose agendas sometimes directly conflict with our party goals.

Vote Bernie Sanders on Tuesday, New York! We’ll all feel so much better for it. Thank you, sincerely.

Love Always,

Patty, From Michigan.

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