I was a Bernie Sanders Delegate in Philadelphia. During the primaries, I fought like hell for him because I was and am tired of the incremental changes that continue to leave enough behind that many have lost hope and removed themselves from the body politic.
Interestingly, most of my support came from Hillary Clinton supporters who ensured I became the Bernie Delegate from my Senate District in Texas and they also helped me raise funds from both Bernie and Hillary supporters. They knew that many of us supporting Bernie had real policy issues with Hillary and were much more in tune with Bernie's policies. It was not some rabid anti-Hillary or anti-woman edict for the most part.
The idea was, fight like hell in the primaries and then support the nominee whether it was Hillary or Bernie. When Hillary became the nominee, many of us fought like hell to get the Democratic Nominee elected both physically on the ground, and in blogs and diaries.
It is concerning that a year and a half after the election many on both sides are fighting yesterday's battle instead of the Progressive struggle we need to unite on. Recently Bernie said the following as reported by The Independent.
The senator for Vermont appeared to criticise the first black US President as he branded the Democratic Party a "failure".
Speaking in Jackson, Mississippi, he said Democrats had lost a record number of legislative seats.
"The business model, if you like, of the Democratic Party for the last 15 years or so has been a failure,' said the Vermont Senator.
"People sometimes don't see that because there was a charismatic individual named Barack Obama. He was obviously an extraordinary candidate, brilliant guy. But beyond that reality..." Mr Sanders' comments were quickly branded "patronising" and "deplorable".
A good friend of mine wrote the following regarding Bernie Sanders' comment on Facebook. It shows how twisting one comment can metastasize into potential hatred unless one is interested in standing one's ground and at the same time keeping the dialogue going by not taking attacks too personal.
Friend: Clear racism from Bernie on the anniversary of MLK's murder: "The business model, if you like, of the Democratic Party for the last 15 years or so has been a failure.. People sometimes don't see that because there was a charismatic individual named Barack Obama." - Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders)
Me: I am sorry, that is definitely not a racist statement by Bernie. Look, people, America is filled with racists. It does no good doing microanalysis or the parsing of words to find racism. The Democratic Party Establishment as a whole has many racist elements within. Bernie is not one of them without. Bernie can be insensitive to race, gender, and much more. But his heart and economics are in the right place. You want to make a change, hit our real racists within our party, the part not giv\ing black women their dues. I have stories from Texas to Georgia. Please, folks, stop trying to find racism in the wrong places.
Friend: Take your ass off my post, you're complicit in the docile negro league... stop chasing snow storms and calling them your friends. One day this will not age well for you.
Me: I love you but you are simply wrong on this one. And I have not ever disrespected a difference in opinion with you so I would appreciate your respect, sir.
Friend: And your feelings matter because; what? I said what I said
Me: Because we are humans trying to get to the same place. And we all will not take the same path. Remember that.
Friend: Humans with BLACK skin... but you love them white folks more. I'm done with you, skin folk.
The discussion then continued in another thread under the post.
Friend: I am the ONLY one on this post who actively took part and planned the disruption at Netroots. The way he acted in response and going forward from that, made me have mad distrust from him. You can worship the old white man if you like. Bernhovahs Witnesses scurry up off my post.
Me: And I supported you at Netroots 100% and as an editor at Daily Kos wrote in support of what WE all did.
Friend: ... there are SEVERAL reasons why I feel no need to honor your feelings.
Me: We will talk offline. I am not the enemy here nor will I allow you to go there, brother. WE WILL TALK!
Friend: If you wanna talk you know how to find me.
Me: Yes I do. And I will.
Many chose not to see the validity of what Bernie said and instead assigned their preconceived notions of what they thought he meant. Many like my friend described Bernie as a racist. They said he disrespected President Obama. He insulted Obama's legacy. To the contrary, that statement shows the power of President Obama's message, intellect, and yes, charisma.
Everything Bernie said I have said and much more. If one judges the success of a party by the number of candidates elected over a period, then the Democratic Party has been a failure in that regards. It is also true that the charisma, intellect, and organizational skills of President Obama put a facade over some dysfunction. That is not a put down it is an accolade.
Deeming Bernie or his comments racist cheapens the reality that there are in fact racial issues in different sects within the Democratic Party. To be clear, in no regard should one equate the Party's dysfunction with that of the Republican Party. However, to win elections, we must supersede it to ensure everyone feels included.
The constant rehashing of the Bernie versus Hillary debate is not productive. Giving people a reason to vote is. If you support Bernie's policies like I do, systems where the social safety net is large enough to obliterate poverty, provide pay-it-forward-college, and Single-Payer Medicare for All, then fight for it in the primaries and help the candidate sell those ideas to the rank and file. If you are a moderate Democrat that believe more in a free market, do the same.
When the primaries are over, fight like heck to get the Democrat elected. And after the election, if ultimately your progressive or moderated candidate did not win, don't bash the other one ad nauseam. Continue educating and promoting the values you stand for with passion.
I will continue to be a part of the movement to move the country left as it is the only solution to mitigate an extracting economy that has no regards for humanity. In the process, I refuse to make either Hillary supporters my enemy. And I will urge those in my faction of the Democratic Party to do the same. Most times leading by example and not responding in kind is much more effective. If one thinks movement over your person, not responding in kind is easier.