Our Collective Heart: From Berning to Breaking

Yesterday my heart broke. And I’m not the only one.

Yesterday, Bernie Sanders disappointed a great many of his fans by making the decision to endorse Hillary Clinton for president. This came as an absolute shock to me and many of his supporters. He said time and time again that he was more than a protest candidate. He promised us to take our fight all the way to the convention. I believed in him- we all believed in him.

The pain of such an action runs deep. I want to be angry- but I can’t. I cannot be angry with the man who fought for our rights for his entire career. I cannot be angry with the man who has maintained dedication, integrity, and commitment to the American people since long before we even knew he existed. Despite not being angry, though, I must admit that I feel betrayed.

He made a promise to us to continue fighting until the bitter end. I have no doubt that his intentions were good. I have no doubt that even as he endorsed the lying, cheating Hillary Clinton he did it because he believed it was the best thing for America.

However something has changed over the past few months- so slowly I didn’t notice until today. As a member of Bernie’s campaign, I receive periodic updates. The one he sent yesterday left me feeling cold. The initial fire and fervor of his campaign has been lost. The idealism that guided his campaign, rousing massive crowds of support has fizzled. Even as he wrote about creating new institutions to maintain and support the political revolution, even as he wrote about passing progressive reforms like affordable college education for the poor, closing for-profit prisons, closing tax loopholes for the wealthy, breaking up the big banks and so much more- there was something missing. These are all wonderful developments, of course, but I feel something much more important was given up.

What Bernie Sanders gave us with his campaign was much more than awareness of important issues and progressive policy ideas. What he brought to the table was the one thing we need at this point more than ever: hope and a vision for a great future. It was this beacon of hope that attracted millions of supporters to his campaign. It was this hope that kept us all fighting through countless episodes of darkness and despair. It was this vision of the future that finally united so many of us across America in solidarity. We were excited for his campaign because we wanted to live in the world he envisioned for us.

He told us that when millions of Americans come together anything is possible. He told us that we could take on the big banks, we could combat political corruption, we could overcome the tantamount obstacles that lie between us and a world of peace and compassion. When we come together, he said, there’s nothing we cannot do.

Where has that vision gone, I wonder. The letter I received yesterday was entitled “Forever forward,” but I cannot for the life of me figure out where it is he is asking us to go. He speaks of defeating Trump and electing progressive candidates- is that it? Is that what we’re all supposed to rally behind now?

I love Bernie. I will always love Bernie. Words cannot possibly express that authentic appreciation and respect I have for this man. Though, I’m disappointed that he seems to have finally succumbed to fear.

Looking at it now, I can recognize a gradual shift over the past few months. His vision of a transformed America where we can all live in equality and unity has slowly shifted towards the imperative of defeating Trump. I understand the importance of keeping a narcissistic megalomaniac like Trump out of office- but that’s not the point.

The point is- and always has been- to create an America that works for all people. The point is to restore the people’s voice in American democracy. The point is to build a society based on peace, love, compassion, cooperation, and mutual respect rather than competition, egotism, conflict, and fear.

The only way to create our ideal future is to hold the vision steadfast in our minds. It’s that vision- and that vision only- that can bring people together for the long haul. Sure we can unite against a common enemy like Trump- but what happens when he is defeated?

The point is what we’re fighting for, not what we’re fighting against.

I don’t know what Bernie is fighting for anymore. I no longer see the future he envisions.

I have believed in Bernie throughout the entire campaign. Against all odds, I believed he could win the democratic candidacy and- eventually- become president. I believed not only that he could- but that he would. I believed that because I knew the vast support he had. I knew that people all across America were mobilizing as a united force to put Bernie in office. I believed in the movement. I believed in us. I believed that together we could create the world we all want to live in- not just make small concessions and baby steps. I believed we could completely revolutionize American politics- not simply push the Democratic Party to the left.

I don’t know what Bernie’s plan is anymore. I don’t know his vision. Perhaps I am mistaken in my assessment. Perhaps he’s committed himself to an even greater goal that I am- as yet- unaware of. I will suspend my judgment for now- as I come to terms with my own feeling and the facts of the situation.

All I know right now is that I am profoundly disappointed. I am in shock. I wish I could cry but even that sorrow cannot penetrate the numbness that blankets me and so many in our movement.

I have no doubt that the political revolution will not be stopped. The awakened among us will not quietly return to sleep after witnessing the brilliant light of what America can become, as well as the poignant darkness that envelops America right now.

What I don’t know is what form that revolution will take. For myself, I must take some time to mourn the devastating loss we experienced yesterday. I must so that I, like many others, may pick up the pieces and continue this ceaseless march forward into the world of our dreams.

 

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