A Millennial’s Vote for Bernie
~In response to Rob May’s letter to Bernie Sanders~
I won’t speak for Bernie, but I’ll vote for him, and here’s why Mr. May, and anyone else who feels threatened by Bernie Sanders:
I disagree with the statement that you don’t deserve the money that you worked hard to make. And I share your belief that the system is rigged, but unlike you, I believe that it is rigged differently against different people. Yes you worked hard, perhaps you didn’t have things handed to you, and perhaps you made many sacrifices. Congratulations, you achieved the American dream. Unfortunately, many Americans are unable to achieve that dream that you are so proud of because they are held back by their race or gender. Guess what, Bernie achieved that dream too, he was the poor son of an immigrant, and now he’s running for president! But it’s a different time now, and the world is a different place. We’ve all seen the diagrams: in 1970 annual tuition for Yale was $2,550, minimum wage was $1.45, in 2014 annual tuition was $45,800 and minimum wage was $7.25. So here’s what that means, in 1970 you could pay for your own tuition by working 4.8 hours per day. As a full time student that may seem like a lot, but it’s certainly doable. Fast forward to 2014, in order to leave college debt free as you, Mr. May, were fortunate enough to do, you had to work 17.3 hours per day. Tell me how one is supposed to do that, let alone do that and be a full time student.
I graduated from university in 2014 with a double major: a BA in International Studies with an emphasis in Politics (I don’t know if that counts as one of your “useless” majors or not) and a minor in Latin American Studies, as well as a second BA in Performing Arts (while you may not consider that worthy, dancing makes me happy and I grew up with the understanding that in the US pursuing happiness is one of my rights). I took the maximum amount of credits from day one and graduated a semester early. Throughout those 3.5 years I worked a variety of jobs, many at the same time. Before I even moved into the dorms I had acquired a position as a student assistant, a little into the semester, I picked up a second job as a tutor, babysat on the side, and then became a barista, then a waitress and finally a nanny. I worked whatever job I could find that fit around my classes. I went from work to school and back to work. In my senior year I took out more loans so that I could work less and make time for an internship, which I was told by an advisor I would need at least three of if I were to get hired after graduating. He was right. Now, a little over a year since I graduated, I’ve completed two more internships and currently work three jobs. I consider myself lucky to only have $17,000 in student loans. My repayment plan is income based and despite my 3 jobs I qualify for $0 per month. Let me also clarify this, I am using my degree in all three of my jobs: I work as a Employment Case Manager working in re-entry for Parolees, as a Fundraising Specialist for a private high school, and as a dance teacher. I work an average of 60 hours per week. My single luxury is that I have 2 cats, and while it’s true that they take a portion of my paycheck, again, they make me happy. I get paid above minimum wage for each of my jobs, and yet each month I barely make rent.
So here’s the deal Mr. May, I’m not angry with you for being successful. Nor am I asking that you fund my travels, or anything else that you may consider frivolous. What I am asking is that you help to make sure that others have the same opportunities that you did. What I hope is that you would want to live in a country where all of its people have access to basic human rights. What I’m asking is that you help to end the crisis of homelessness in this country, that you help to make sure that America’s children are not malnourished, that you make sure that our veterans have access to the health care that they need, that you work to make sure that our children have access to teachers who can afford to pay their rent.
I will be voting for Bernie Sanders because I believe that he is the most likely to prioritize the aforementioned issues. I am voting for Bernie because the US has been at war for more than half of my lifetime and I’m tired of all the death. I am voting for Bernie because I’m tired of my tax dollars paying for violence. I’m voting for Bernie because I am sick of trying to find jobs for veterans who have been left so mentally wounded, and without access to proper care, that they have ended up homeless and then in jail. I am voting for Bernie not because I believe he will be able to solve all of these problems, but because I believe he will not stop trying. I’m voting for Bernie because I want my children to have the opportunities that you did, Mr. May. I’m voting for Bernie because I want my children to be able to work hard through college, and graduate debt free. I’m voting for Bernie because I want my children to live like you have Mr. May, I want them to work hard for the American dream and see it realized.