If you’re voting for Bernie, good for you! I agree with you that Bernie Sanders is the best candidate running, both for the many accomplishments he’s got done in his time in Congress and because of his voting record of consistently voting in the interests of the American people, especially the worst-off Americans. I support him for his well-thought out tax plan, his willingness to confront race issues, and for letting the rest of us democratic socialists out of the red closet.
If you’re voting for Bernie, you’re probably stirred by his message of revolution: “not me, us.” You want to see a more democratic, more just America, where mothers don’t have to choose between nursing their newborns and getting a paycheck, where veterans aren’t begging for change on the street, where CEOs aren’t taking home millions while their workers count pennies. You’re passionate, you’re inspired, you want to change the world.
But if you’re voting for Bernie, voting for Bernie isn’t enough.
If you’re voting for Bernie, you’ve seen the same memes I have, telling you 469 seats in Congress are up for grabs this election. Socialist (or at least socialist-friendly) Senators and Representatives will make President Sanders’ term a lot easier. But do you know who your current Senator and Representative are? Here’s your answer. Do you know who’s running against them? Find out here. Do you know which candidates side with Bernie on issues like minimum wage, antitrust action, and campaign financing? Check their websites! (I’d also peek at their ranking with the Citizens’ Congress.) Now you know, and you can tell your friends and neighbors to vote for Bill Ostrander (or whomever) in the same breath you mention Bernie Sanders. You might even volunteer for those down-ticket campaigns, where every vote counts.
If you’re voting for Bernie, you care about your government and what it’s doing to you and to the rest of us. Get involved in local politics. Your state, county, and especially city governments have a much bigger impact on your life than the resident of the Oval Office – and vice versa. Look up your city council’s agenda for their next meeting, and go speak at public comment. Sign up for a city board or commission appointment, such as Public Works, Planning Commission, Recreation and Parks, or, erm, Citizens’ Finance Advisory Committee. Run for elected office! San Luis Obispo just became the first city in America to get money out of elections and clean up campaigns because of a small group of dedicated citizens. Start there.
If you’re voting for Bernie, you care about working people. Unionize your office Half the reason we need Bernie in the first place is because capital convinced white-collar workers and service people that we didn’t need unions. But the same laws of economics apply to white-collar jobs as blue-collar: If all you working stiffs are on the same page about demanding a living wage or paternal leave or inclusionary hiring practices, you can win against management. You don’t have to strike, you just have to be willing to negotiate…and be willing to stand with your brothers and sisters when they need you.
If you’re voting for Bernie, you care about the downtrodden members of society. Volunteer a few hours or a few loaves of bread at your local homeless shelter. Organize a #BlackLivesMatter march. Join a campus or city social justice activist group. If you’re church-going, demand your congregation help. If you’re a frat boy or sorority girl, get your brothers/sisters behind you for community service. If you have five hundred Facebook friends, get a tenth of them to show up. Put your skills, time, and resources to making this country more just, more fair, and more equal, so that we really do have liberty and justice for all.
If you’re voting for Bernie, you want a revolution. One man isn’t a revolution. It can’t just be him, it has to be us. We have to carry the revolution forward. And while it sometimes involves waving banners and shouting slogans, most of it is doing homework, sitting in meetings, speaking at podiums, and making agreements. It’s coalition-building and voting your conscience and doing a job. It’s keeping in mind the vision of a new America, and making your corner of America look more like that. Then, and only then, will we have a real revolution. Then, we’ll see body-cams on policemen and bankers in jail. Then, we’ll earn the right to say “we fought the revolution.” Until then, there’s work to do.
If you’re voting for Bernie, you don’t mind a little work to bring the revolution. If you’re voting for Bernie, you live for it.