My First March: Why I’m Marching for Bernie Sanders
A friend said to me yesterday, “Go hiking instead of marching. Nature is eternal, politics, not so much.” And so I pondered why I was “wasting” this glorious 60-degree Colorado winter day to hang out with a bunch of strangers on the sidewalk and steps of the Colorado capitol to support Bernie Sanders. Besides the obvious reason that where there are humans, there is “politics,” here’s why.
I don’t recall ever seeing my parents vote. My father was a Nazarene pastor, and God trumped political engagement. Long before fellow Nazarene James Dobson’s rise and Focus on the Family’s influence, national politics was seen in our church as a barrier to bringing people to Christ. But politics as “the practice and theory of influencing other people” and “the making of a common decision for a group of people” and “the use of power of one person to affect the behavior of another person” (source, Wikipedia), THAT we did every single day. You cannot find an arena in which politics matters more than the church world. On top of everyday human conflict and struggle, every relationship and situation is infused with a spiritual perspective and agenda as well. Talk about intense. I grew up breathing politics.
I majored in Political Science at a Nazarene college with the intent to help open Russia to missionaries. That happened before I graduated, so what seemed like my God-given calling evaporated. I briefly worked on a couple of campaigns in Oklahoma, gubernatorial candidate of the far right Republican party, Jerry D. Brown, where I shook the hands of Oliver North and Charlton Heston; and dating a field rep and making calls for Senator Don Nickles. After singing my whole life, even in front of thousands of people, teaching Sunday School, and acting, I had the chops to run for office and thought that might be my path. But the mud-slinging, sneering vitriol between the four Republican candidates in the 1990 campaign for governor turned my stomach. It also clashed with how Christians were supposed to be, according to Christ’s words and example. So I chose against politics.
Instead, I chose to focus on being able to cross political lines in friendships, rejecting labels that could become barriers to relationship and authentic human connection. I have gradually become more liberal in my beliefs–I’m a Republican no longer, though I’m still more of a moderate, bleeding heart, progressive with libertarian leanings when you get down to policy. But a few weeks ago, I changed my affiliation from independent to Democrat. Why? So I could caucus for Bernie Sanders.
I have many dear acquaintances and a wide community of liberals, conservatives, and every flavor in between. I’m an author. I do NOT want to create walls between us all. But I have been watching in utterly sad confusion at people lining up to see Trump speak, at people laughing at his “antics,” at his phlegm. And as much as I know women should be permeating politics as much as men have and do, I don’t trust Hillary Clinton’s corporate ways of working. More to the point, I think she would have a great chance at losing to a Republican; there’s just too much baggage.
We are at a crossroads as a nation. We are a society trained to fear, the logical outcome of the deification of risk avoidance. We shall either move towards greater fracturing, greater discord, greater disfunction; or we shall heal ourselves and bridge our rifts. And that’s what Bernie Sanders has been doing in his entire career. No, he’s not perfect. Yes, one of my motivations is “who can beat the Republicans and especially Trump?” But Bernie Sanders has the most consistent record of caring and honor that I’ve ever seen. He is the least beholden to those with a stranglehold on our economy. He has perfected “Fuck you.” He sees through the self-induced mass hysteria that is often our media. He neither panders nor uses our habitual terror but calls us to ditch it. Underneath his fiery nature, I see kindness. I see humility based on a real estimation of his worth, history, and accomplishment, not false humility designed to manipulate. When he gets pissed off, he speaks. When he smiles, I see it in his eyes.
And holy moly, if Elizabeth Warren is his running mate, it will happen! Dream Team! We may just have a chance of turning our society back from the brink of oligarchy and plutocracy. Do I sound optimistic? I’m not. I’m being pragmatic. And that’s why I’m marching in Denver today. It’s like spring in Colorado right now, and I can hike next weekend. Feel the Bern.
p.s. To those of you who disagree with me, love and hugs over these dang walls.