An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders
Dear Senator Sanders,
My family comes from middle-class roots. Both of my grandfathers — though I only ever met one of them — worked their butts off to provide for their families.
My mom’s father wore several hats, working as a machinist for Merrill Bros. for over thirty-five years while also serving as the shop steward for his union and driving a limousine on the weekends. His work ethic made it possible for my mom and her three sisters to have a better life. Unfortunately, he passed away three months before I was born. My dad’s father worked a variety of jobs throughout his life, including driving trucks for a bread company, operating his own soda company called Whippersnapper Soda Co., and serving in the U.S. military. He too, unfortunately, passed away several years ago.
My parents have inherited the hustle gene from their fathers, with the goal of raising my brother and me in an environment rife with opportunity. As I type this, I have a full-time job, with the freedom and ability to pursue my professional, financial, and personal goals. My brother currently interns for a major network television station. I know we will continue the family legacy of hard work and pass the value of hustle down to our children as well.
Yet, I can’t help but feel like something is missing from this equation.
After first hearing about you months ago, Mr. Sanders, I’ve done tireless research about your policies and beliefs. I’ve watched speeches, debates, and even you dancing on Ellen. I’ve signed up for your campaign email updates — which I never do for anything — and I still haven’t unsubscribed. I’ve learned as much about you as I could learn without actually speaking to you. I purchased a shirt with your face on it and wear it with pride.
(That’s me, Mr. Sanders. I want to watch the world Bern.)
But watching the world Bern isn’t going to make me feel any less empty. You see, Senator Sanders, my grandfathers worked hard and represented the heart of the middle class — the very heart you’re championing during your presidential campaign. And now that they’re gone, my family feels incomplete. I am out of grandparents (both of my grandmothers are gone as well), which means I am low on birthday gifts every year.
I’m tired of looking over at empty seats during holidays, and I’m tired of pretending No, it’s fine when friends talk about their living grandparents and remember I don’t have any left. My family needs somebody who can fill the void. My family needs somebody who’s going to do and say grandparent things — somebody we can love and appreciate for who s/he is, regardless of what inappropriate comments are made, what types of dance moves are busted on television and now all over the Interwebs, or what his/her hair looks like on a regular basis.
What I’m trying to say is, I guess…
Mr. Sanders, will you be my grandfather?
It makes sense, really:
- You were born and raised in Brooklyn; my family is originally from Queens.
- You were an active organizer for civil rights protests; my ex-girlfriend dated an African-American right after she broke up with me.
- You are tough on guns but sometimes accused of not being tough enough; 3/4 of my house is anti-gun (4/5 if you include the dog).
- You want to make public colleges tuition-free; my parents frequently tell me I owe them eighty-grand, and I don’t have that kind of dough.
- You advocate for LGBTRNFZ$% rights; I like girls but wholeheartedly agree that nobody should be able to tell anyone who they can love.
- You are liberal when it comes to abortion and Planned Parenthood; I think getting a girl pregnant is the worst possible thing that can happen to me at this point in my life.
My family — well, mostly me — want to adopt you. If you get the Democratic nomination and win the 2016 election, we will support you. We will watch your State of the Union addresses, read about your initiatives, and scoff at late-night talk show hosts when they poke fun at your age, appearance, or actions. (Watch yourself, Trevor Noah. That’s my grandpa you’re talking about!)
And if you don’t get the Democratic nomination for 2016, we will be there to catch you when you fall. We will be there to talk smack about Hillary behind her back but then publicly support her campaign against Trump/Jeb!/hopefully anybody but Carson. Because that’s what a family does, Mr. Sanders. Family teaches you to have goals, encourages you to strive for them, celebrates with you when you reach them, and pats your back to console you when you don’t.
We’re here, Senator — waiting in New Jersey, remembering days when every seat at our Thanksgiving Day table was filled. Remembering days when we could laugh at the inadvertent racism present in our dinner conversation. Remembering days when politics was still fun to talk about with family. Waiting for you, Mr. Sanders.
Or should I call you… Grandpa now?
P.S. My birthday is December 19th.