FINDING THE MUMMIFIED CORPSE OF DEMOCRACY IS HEAVY, BUT KINDRED SPIRITS GIVE HOPE
By Aaron Bowersock
I was Bernie or Bust before Bernie declared. I watched his announcement, streaming, like everyone else. Last Summer I talked about him at BBQs as people started with the corporate media talking points- he’s too old, he’s a socialist, but I kept going and I know all of you did, too. And here we are a year later.
Another hot summer day, high 90s in Philadelphia’s FDR Park, and we were watching the televised delegates roll call on giant screens; police helicopters buzzing overhead.
I was ok through most of it, even when I saw in the #ConnectWithBernie Slack channel that the delegates from South Dakota had sealed the deal, but when they hit Washington and Wisconsin that’s when I welled up. I worked extra hard in those states, talking to friends and family, making hundreds of calls to these states and letting people know there was another way of doing things. Idunno… it was a mix of mourning, closure, and pride in the work we’d accomplished. Pride when I saw those Washington delegates and knew I made it happen with my voting, my calls, my door knocking, and my volunteerism. Sadness and mourning because after all my work- it was confirmed the system we are supposedly part of was actively working to sabotage us. We expected nothing less, but it still hurt. I saw a woman running with a Washington flag and I ran up and hugged her.
See… one thing I must reiterate is that most people out here (save for the westboro bigots, and this group of, erm, flower children [let’s revisit them]) are all resonating on the same frequency. Everyone here was part of the struggle in one way or another. We all share ideals and a vision of the future, while recognizing we may walk different paths to get there. Speaking of…
Rewind a bit (before the roll call), and we attended an event that featured Jill Stein, Tim Black, and Victor Tiffany, co-founder of Bernie or Bust movement, and more. I gotta admit, I missed Tim’s portion, as we arrived right when they brought Jill to the stage. So if you’ve never heard Tim speak, before, he’s great. During the low times in our campaign, Tim was a reliable dose of inspiration and reality. You gotta check out his youtube channel right now.
Jill, as she’s done all week, offered the Green Party as a new home for Our Revolution. To me, this makes a lot of sense. I read this book called The Energy Bus, and it taught me not to waste my time with people actively working against me, or existing to simply destroy my positive and constructive energy. If I wrote the book I’d name them “DNC” and “Correct the Record,” respectively. The Green Party already holds my ideals. It’s small, sure, but what I learned this year, and out here, is that I’m not alone. You are not alone.
My favorite speech of this session, though, was Victor Tiffany. He really defined what the Bernie or Bust movement is, now. I encourage you to check out my recorded session on Periscope to hear him tell it. The gist of it? We’re not taking this stolen primary laying down. We are being absolutely clear of our intentions so you cannot blame us for Hillary losing. Would you blame a Republican for Hillary losing? We are not Republicans, but we’re definitely not with the Democratic party — our votes are not yours, so we cannot be blamed for casting them for someone else. Bernie or Bust, as an organization, will be actively working to bring Hillary down in all 50 states by running ads and using other marketing methods as retribution for the fraudulent primary. They will also work to elect Jill Stein.
From there, we got ice creams.
We waited for the #4 bus to take us down broad street and sparked a conversation with a couple of old birds- by their account! Well actually, the shirt I was wearing sparked the conversation. “FCK DNC? What does that mean?”
I thought, “oh no… how do I explain this without saying ‘fuck?’” I said, “oh… well let’s see, uh… so this part is ‘fuck’ [I failed] and that part is for ‘Democratic National Committee.’”
She responded, “Oh yeah, ok, that’s what I thought. I just didn’t know if it meant something I didn’t know about.”
So they bragged about their senior citizens card that allowed them to ride for free and offered us the tokens they had leftover, so we could ride for free, too! We had a good conversation about what the Democrats used to be and what they’ve become. They couldn’t believe the changes they’ve seen. Unfortunately, our conversation got cut short because they mentioned they’d been waiting for the bus for an hour (AN HOUR!!!) and we had a Election Fraud panel to attend.
Instead, by the time we made it to the park, the roll call was happening. I do wanna ask you something- when the speaker from Nebraska said “we give these votes to the honest, hard-working, Hillary Clinton! And [the winning] votes to the ELECTRIFYING BERNIE SANDERS!!!” … Was that a jab at Hillary? There were very few highlights while watching this, and I covered my reaction at the beginning of this entry. It felt like when someone had been “dying” for a long time, and then that person finally dies. That was this campaign. But hold on… because as people in our life our seasons, so was this campaign. We have much more to do. Our delegates knew this, and they walked out. Half the stadium: empty. See if the corporate media shows you that. But I will. This is from @sci_solar on twitter.
Lee Camp hosted a panel on Election Fraud featuring (amongst others) Greg Palast, investigative journalist specializing in the theft of our democracy. It was a doozie.
We got a preview of his film “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” which outlines 10 ways our government has written election fraud into law. If you follow me on twitter, facebook, or if I see you in real life, stay tuned. I will be talking about this a lot. Sorry or you’re welcome.
Then we learned the delegates wanted us to meet them as they walked out, and as hundreds holed up in the press tent- crying, frustrated, and betrayed. We went up to the gate and those flower children, who’d just been smokin’ up, forming love circles and playing bongos decided to steamroll through all of us on the gate. They formed a train with two guitar players in front and a hundred singers behind them- singing their “we are in this togetherrr, yeah yeah!” song. Those were the complete lyrics. Colliding with people who were standing in their way, calling for peace. Ok, get outta here. You’re not helping.
We began marching, marching, marching, until night fell and things got a little heated up.
The police remained calm in their everyday attire- and did not feel like an invading army. I’m thankful for that.
We marched north on Broad St., from the convention center, met up with the Black Lives Matter march and turned around. It was kinda hectic.
The only time I felt on-edge, and that I needed to be on high alert was when a huge mass of us was under an overpass near Packer. The police lights were blaring and sirens chirping intermittently, the people were screaming and there were a few agitators. It was the agitators I was worried about- some picking fights with peaceful protestors, and some shouting at cops. A couple fights almost went haywire, but were calmed by peaceful protestors. Vermin Supreme responded, “remember, we are peaceful protestors. We are non-violent. Anyone starting anything with you is not with us. Leave them. The police are waiting for you to do something. Do not give them a reason.”
Black Lives Matters had rented a pick up truck and I said to the woman handing out water, amidst this challenging environment, “I LOVE YOU!” “I LOVE YOU TOO!” she responded. That’s what this was all about.
When we made it to the Wells Fargo Center, I met a delegate from Washington and felt instantly simpatico. I saw myself in her because I walked that path to be a national delegate through the Washington caucus and knew how she got there, and was now learning what she’d been through. This is only a small portion of our conversation with her.
I hugged her and thanked her for what she’s done and let her know I’d be working at home. We’re friends now. I then met up with all my “Bernie Volunteer” friends from Twitter- we talked a bit about “what next,” “DemExit,” and of course finally getting together for dinner and drinks!
And that’s what kinda day it was. We had lots of lows but a few very high highs.
Some people claimed we were witnessing the death of democracy, but I don’t think so…
You hear on the news about people who were kinda left alone, and no one knew much about them… then neighbors start complaining about weird smells coming from their apartment. The landlord busts open the door and turns out, they were a hoarder. There’s garbage everywhere and the person had actually been dead for a very, very long time.
That’s American democracy. Real democracy (if it existed here?) must have died long ago, but we’re just now holding its funeral. Except it’s not one of those funerals where you say “oh, she looks so peaceful, now.” Nah, this one- the body was eaten by rats a little, decomposed until the winter came, and the face is really fucked up. Wikileaks opened the casket and we were like “what the fuck, man!” Then the hinge on the casket got all stuck and we’re all here staring at it, figuring out what to do about it. The DNC wants to shut the casket, but it’s too late. Strangely enough, the kids are processing it all the best.
The kids and a nice portion of older generations, that is, and that’s where we are today.
I’ve met so many people resonating on the same wavelength. Milly is my kindred spirit. That lady handing out water, the friends I’m here with, the woman with the Washington flag, we are all on the same page. We are experiencing real pain, mourning, but also the inspiration found in each other. This is how we bounce back, and so far, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.
Except for, you know a system that works, and didn’t actively work to sabotage a campaign I gave my heart, soul, and money to.
Did the media tell you any of this? What did you experience on Tuesday, and what was your reaction?
If you’d like to see my live updates, please follow me on twitter: twitter.com/abowersock.
Edit: 5:53pm 7/27: I forgot one of the great highlights of my day. Someone stopped me, in the crowd, and told me that my phonebanking tutorials helped her get over her apprehension about the whole thing, and she jumped right in.
THIS is proof that everything you do matters, even if you don’t know it. That call you made, the knock on the door, the conversation you sparked. It adds up and you are not alone in this.