Why I’m Voting for Bernie Sanders

I’m voting for Bernie because I stood in the poor kids’ line.

When we lined up for school lunches, there were two lines: one for the kids who could afford to pay full price, and another one for me. I could not.

Those who ridicule welfare moms would say this was a failing of my parents.

A failing of the father who was a Vietnam vet, who spent 20 years enlisted in the Air Force, and whose son went on to do the same.

A failing of the mother who worked whatever jobs she could find — even cleaning hospital rooms after surgeries — while raising four children and moving constantly around the country as a military wife.

A failing of the parents who raised me to graduate first in my class and to devote my life to service instead of cash.

My parents did not fail me. They just lived in a country that does not value public service, that does not value motherhood, that does not care about children. Not really.

So I ate government cheese at times. We slept on the floor in the kitchen with the refrigerator door open for air conditioning sometimes. And I stood in the poor kids’ line in the school cafeteria.

When my mother’s brother committed suicide, a victim of a drug war that also killed my brother and has produced enough shame to kill us all, my mom had to beg for money from my uncle’s employers to be able to afford the plane ticket to identify his body.

By no means have my family or I experienced the worst poverty has to offer — but I have seen enough to know that our country tolerates & even celebrates these daily injustices against the vast majority of Americans because we have decided that injustice is our accepted punishment for the supposed “failure” of poverty.

I refuse to live, anymore, in a country that treats the poor like their poverty is their own shame, some kind of moral failing. It’s a lie. It’s a sham. It’s meant to keep us quiet, to keep our noses to grindstones, to prove we’re somehow worthy of the scraps of the system.

But the truth is: poverty is not our failing. We do not belong in separate lines, in separate zip codes, in separate schools, in separate communities, in separate stores. We are no less. We are no different.

Our poverty is just the cost of a system rigged to benefit those greedy few willing to sell us all out to line their own pockets. They are willing to destroy our environment, to send new moms back to work before they’ve bonded with their babies, to leave our veterans sick on the streets without homes or healthcare, to enslave young people with inescapable student debt, to make it impossible for some kids to even consider going to college. They build prisons for profit rather than public schools for our children, send our sons and daughters to war for oil, leave our children hungry, homeless and without healthcare. All for money. They are willing to let people die not because there are not cures or treatments, but because they do not consider these lives — our fathers, our mothers, our sons and daughters — worth the cash.

They tell us there’s not enough for us all. That too is a lie. Frankly, we have pillaged the rest of the planet to make sure we have vastly more than our share. They tell us there’s not enough so that we’ll turn against one another fighting for scraps, so that we’ll spend every hour in meaningless jobs that don’t pay enough to feed our children, so that we’ll be too tired to fight.

And I, for one, won’t take it any more. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

It’s time for us to stand up. This is our chance to take our country back. We have been waiting for economic and social justice for far too long.

We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to set our country on a radically different course.

I sadly know some of you have already secretly surrendered. Maybe you believe the media lies, or the DNC nonsense, have stolen our election. It’s far easier to admit defeat once again than to gather the courage to believe that another way is really possible. We have practiced giving up. We have been told again and again and again that we will never win.

I’m begging you to realize that our apathy is exactly what they’re counting on. They want us to be too tired, too sick, too poor to care. They want us to come home at night too tired to make one more sign or one more call. They want us to spend our hours drinking or doing drugs to make ourselves feel better because our numbness is what they’re counting on. They want us to be too caught up in the quest for cash to realize our own wealth will never matter as long as everyone around us is suffering. They want us to succumb to the radical, infectious apathy we see in our friends, families and communities so we don’t dare knock on one more door. They want us to spend our energy in despair at Trump’s buffoonery. They want us to hand our cash over to corporations for Christmas and call it a celebration. They want us to watch football instead of debates.

But we will not.

Because if we give up, they win. If they distract us with bread & circuses, they win. They hire campaigners. They make promises to corporations for cash. They sell us out for votes.

They win.

So, I dare you to believe. I dare you to stand up. I dare you to say with me, finally and forever, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

Just this week, 700,000 members of the Communications Workers of America endorsed Bernie, and over a million members of Democracy for America. Bernie’s campaign has now received over 2M contributions averaging less than $30 each. Our victory is more than possible, but it is far from assured. As we saw this week, Bernie does not have the system. He does not have the machine. He has only our hearts and our hands — so we must work like we never have before. People far braver than any of us have died for revolution. I’m not asking for that — but I am aware that the road will not always be comfortable or fun. Sometimes, it will be hard. But we will always be together. And that will be enough to carry us through.

We have just over a month, 43 days, until the most pivotal moment of the election — February 1 — the Iowa caucus. If we win there, everything changes. Like President Obama before him, a win in Iowa could set up a domino effect leading to victory in the states that follow. If he loses, we all lose. There is little hope he could recover. It really is that important.

I’m asking you, I’ll beg if I have to….until then, devote yourself to the future of our country and our planet, to our children and our children’s children. I know there is Christmas. I know there is New Year’s. I know there are parties and vacations. But, truly, what is it that you really want this holiday season? I know you have worked hard all year. I know you deserve a break, but if we do not seize this moment, it will pass us by. Give yourself, your children, our country and our planet this gift for the holidays:

· Create a phone banking event at map.berniesanders.com. Then, get on the phones & phone bank at berniesanders.com/phonebank.

· Canvass in your community, and make sure your friends, families & neighbors are registered to vote.

· Come out from behind your computer and take your activism to the streets. Clipboard at street fairs; chalk sidewalks; light up the night with glowing art that calls for revolution; rally; write secret love notes to Bernie and leave them in places you know they’ll be found. Follow your creative genius wherever it leads.

· Take a road trip to Iowa or South Carolina to turn out the vote in early primary states.

· Join the movement that’s growing in communities across the country — and if there’s no one in your community, start one. Commit yourself wholeheartedly to a volunteer role on the campaign.

I will be taking a leave of absence from work for (at least) the next 3 months; I know not everyone can do that — but all of us can dedicate our free moments. And it will make all the difference. Polls currently show that if we can win the primary, Bernie will win this election and become the next president of the United States.

Martin Luther King once said: “Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.”

You can be sure other candidates will pay millions to organize their campaigns. We need to bet our togetherness, our passion, our hearts, our gifts against all that cash. We need to put it all on the table. Everything we’ve got.

People ask me all the time why I’m voting for Bernie.

I’m voting for Bernie because even though I’m no longer poor, even though I’m one of the lucky few who somehow found my way out, I’ve seen too many other beautiful souls along the way whose radical potential has been lost to our planet due to the shame, sadness and symptoms of poverty. Because I’ve seen too many of us squander our gifts on lives not meant for us because we’re scared we won’t be able to feed ourselves or our children.

And in my heart, I’ll always be the little girl who stood in the poor kids’ line.

No child, no adult, no human, should ever suffer such senseless shame at the hands of a system that is so radically unjust.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

Let’s get to work.