Thank you Bernie Sanders

When I was a young boy I was skinny. I had copper red hair, tons of freckles and I was kind of gawky. Okay I was pretty awkward. I was one of only a couple Jewish kids in my elementary school. So while everyone was making Christmas decorations in elementary school I was off by myself putting glitter on my blue felt stars of David while others looked, whispered and pointed. I was the subject of taunting, teasing, emotional, and physical abuse or what we today refer to as bullying.

Eventually sometime in what we now call middle school, back then we called Jr. high school, I had a heart to heart with my New York raised old school dad who took me into the Den, put my hands up in front of me, slipped oven mitts on as though they were boxing gloves and ordered me to hit him. Harder! I can still hear him now like it was yesterday. He said, “Is that the best you got? Hit harder!” as he I’m sure in his eyes “toughened me up” teaching me to box and defend myself. Well this big imposing man yelling at me telling me to hit him, a guy I basically looked up to as a kind of demi-God who can do no wrong, was a bit much for me and I remember breaking down in tears as I through each punch.

That year when I went to school and the bullies/a-holes decided to raise their stature in the Jr. High pecking order by picking on the skinny redhead, I stepped up to them and took a few big swings and asked them “Is that the best you got?” One by one they looked shocked, fell down or backed down and that year nobody ever picked me out for abuse again.

Why do I share this painful period of my life with you at this time now that I’m fifty three years old? Because the world is still full of bullies trying to lift themselves up by pushing people they think are different or weaker down. That’s why I got involved in “politics”, to do something to try to help people stand up for and with each other against the bullies in life. Because I learned that when people stand up and fight back we win. When we don’t we become someone’s punching bag.

This year an elderly man who grew up in the same boroughs as my Dad in New York, on the same rough streets where they both probably played stick-ball, stood up as he had his entire adult life to face down the bullies who are underpaying workers, stealing our civil rights, and seeking to cut the lifelines to the disabled, veterans and seniors and said enough is enough!

That man is Bernie Sanders. I think one of the first things he saw as young boy was Jewish immigrants in his neighborhood streets with the scars of Nazi death camp tattoos on their arms and having seen this as a small boy myself I can tell you one doesn’t forget it. I think the knowledge that he himself had lost a great many of his direct family members in those death camps in part because the world did not immediately fight back and swing harder against the brutal bully Adolph Hitler, that must have forged an iron will inside him to never back down against bullies and evil again.

For over thirty five years Bernie Sanders has served in public office working to make life better for the poor, working families, abused women, impoverished seniors and others. Hes bravely stood on the floor of the United States House of Representatives and Senate to warn against cuts to already struggling suffering working poor families, to war against poorly advised wars of choice, to oppose badly structured trade deals that cost millions of working Americans our jobs.

This year Bernie Sanders stood up to challenge the most powerful political machine and family in the modern history of America, a candidate who had decades of national name recognition and strong ties to the wealthiest most powerful people on Earth. He stood up against the status quo establishment of Washington DC and the corporate media, against the world’s largest banks and billionaires, against the wealthiest business tycoons in our country. He said the young people crushed with decades of school debt, the people without jobs that pay for a dignified life without ability to pay for healthcare or decent housing, they all deserve better and their voice needs to be heard above the voices of the wealthy donor class.

This year Bernie Sanders in my view stood up and took a metaphorical swing at the status quo establishment by running a corporate PAC money free campaign, a public crowd funded campaign, and showing us a new blueprint for building an honest and fair democracy that hears everyone’s voices regardless of how small, weak or outwardly gawky they appear.

This year tens of millions of Americans saw this courageous man step into the ring and we all stepped in with him. I personally talked with people young and old who had completely given up on an election system and government that they rightly determined had given up on them, and they said they were ready to step up and fight back.

This political revolution as Bernie describes it is not about one primary race or one presidential election. This is about defending the health and dignity of all of our people, standing up for and with each other to push back the bullies and even defending Mother Earth on behalf of future generations.

So I owe this man my deepest gratitude. He already has my admiration. If you’re reading this Senator Sanders I want to say I think my dad would have really liked you, and thank you sir. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Joseph Segal
@joesegal on Twitter