Bernie Sanders Made Me Young


Oh, I know. The 2016 election is a giant cesspool of horror.  I get it.  I have followed (with a great deal of nausea) the “tiny hands” comments, the “my wife is hotter than yours” mess and even the “beat the crap out of ’em” moments.

But still. I am having a good time with this election cycle.

I am!

In the first place, after having had to hide my lefty tendencies for so many years, I am finding it incredibly liberating to finally have a candidate who is saying “You aren’t as lefty as I am!” The “who’s more progressive” fight is so. much. fun.

And I am having a great time watching the party of Lincoln devolve into a pack of badly behaved five year old brats. I am thoroughly enjoying the nasty stupidity of that side.

But you know what’s the best part of the whole thing?

Its the never ending chorus from the media: “Bernie supporters are all millennials!” and “Oh, those innocent young people being fooled by Bernie!”

I have heard this story on NPR, on CNN, on ABC, on NBC and on CBS. I have read it and seen it over and over again.  All those Facebook memes about “20 somethings who want free stuff.”

I LOVE it.

Because its so incredibly wrong.

I am 60 years old. I recently went to a Bernie Brainstorming meeting, and 2 out of 25 people were under 35.  Most of us were gray haired and mature. We were not looking for “free stuff”.

So I am loving the misconception.  Yes, I want to say to people I meet, I am very young! I am feeling the Bern!

I sort of wondered about which celebrities are backing Bernie. You know, were they all under 25?

Let’s see:

  1. Susan Sarandon: 69 years old. (I know. She looks fabulous)
  2. Spike Lee: 59 years old.
  3. Tulsi Gabbard: 34 years old.  A youngster, but a veteran. She’s a grownup.
  4. Joan Baez: 75 years old
  5. Mark Ruffalo: 48 years old
  6. Robert Reich: 69 years old

So guess what, mass media?

Even though I am thoroughly enjoying the label of “youngster”, you are completely missing the point on who supports Bernie. I hope you keep missing the point all the way to the Inauguration.

Why I Feel That Bern


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Sometimes I think about an old Chinese saying that I read about a long time ago. The first time I saw it, it was called a blessing.  The second time it was referred to as a curse.

The saying is this one: “May you live in interesting times.”

Yup. So you can see, can’t you, how it could be both a blessing and a curse?

I think that the current presidential campaign season sums up this idea very well.  We certainly do live in interesting times, don’t we?

I don’t want to go into all of the horrors and threats that are coming to us from the right. Nukes in Europe, women in jail for abortion, war with China…..you get the idea.

I just want to talk about how excited and impassioned I feel about one candidate.

I feel the Bern.

But you know what? I am a Bernie supporter because of Bernie, not because of Trump, or Cruz, or even because of Hillary.

I am a Bernie supporter for a whole bunch of reasons that I think the people in power are failing to recognize. And I am having  So. Much. Fun.

Last night I went to a gathering of Bernie folks.  I listen to mainstream media, so I expected to find a house full of hipsters and hippies. I thought I’d be the oldest person in the room.  But I was really, really wrong. Out of 18 people at the meeting, only 2 were under 30.  5 of us were retired. 10 were gray haired.

Hey, CNN? You are SO WRONG about our age!

I though that most of the people there would be in the lower middle class, worried about their own financial situations.  Ha. No.  There were three lawyers, a couple of small business owners and a few other professionals.  No one was there looking for “free stuff”.

Hey, NBC, CBS, ABC? You do NOT GET who we are!

We talked about why we were there.  About why we support this cranky old man and his crazy quixotic campaign. And we all shared certain thoughts. We are all tired of believing in a perfectly balanced two party system. We are all wondering why this country can’t seem to have an open and honest debate about anything important. We wonder why we are unable to provide healthcare coverage for our sickest citizens. We don’t understand why no matter how hard we work, our kids can’t get through college without giant mountains of debt. We wonder why more and more of the nation’s wealth is going right into the pockets of the big corporations. We are pretty pissed off about what happened in 2008, when so many of us lost our life savings, but the people who gambled it away walked off with millions.

We are not Democrats.  We don’t believe in that whole party loyalty thing. We don’t feel beholden to Debbie Wasserman Schultz. We don’t think that we should hold our noses and vote for the lesser of two evils.

Many of us talked about how empowered we felt when we first heard Bernie asking, “Why can’t we provide maternity leave to our new mothers? Why can’t we take care of our elderly? Why can’t this country manage to educate its brightest young people?”  We agreed that we had all been asking ourselves the same damn questions, but hand’t thought that anyone was listening.

We talked about how stifled we’ve felt over the past decade, at least, as the word “liberal” became a pejorative term. We shared out stories of feeling diminished, demeaned, ignored as progressive thinkers.

And we talked about our true and deep belief in Bernie’s kind of populist revolution. We shared stories of frustration, anger, passion, hope.

So this is why I am hosting a phone bank for Bernie Sanders. This is why I have canvassed for him. Why I wear a T Shirt with his name on it when I go out in public.

I don’t give a rat’s ass about the Democratic party. I don’t care about the people in power now.  I don’t feel represented or recognized or heard.

I used to teach history to fifth graders. Sometimes I think of the words of Thomas Jefferson:

“I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.”

Call me naiive. Call me foolish. Call me an aging hippy with no sense of reality.  For the first time since Jimmy Carter came on the scene, I feel inspired by a political candidate.

I am not a millennial. I am not a Communist. I am not looking for “free stuff”.

I am a middle aged, retired professional. I believe in my country. I believe in peace. I believe that it is the purpose of government to protect and preserve the health, safety and prosperity of the people.

I believe in Bernie Sanders.  I will support him all the way to the Democratic Convention, and if necessary, beyond.

The Wintry Sun


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She was standing alone, leaning on a black metal cane.  She was small, thin, not quite fragile, and supremely alert.  She watched us with obvious interest as we slowly drove down the bumpy drive toward the old gray house.

We stopped the car, and I got out.  We had driven past an empty horse paddock, outlined with worn split rails.  Both of us had chuckled at the hand painted sign that stood along the driveway: “Caution: deaf dogs”.  There was a battered three sided garage on the left, filled with broken farm implements, part of a tractor, and a blue four door sedan bearing the bumper sticker “War is not healthy: Sick of it yet?”

I smiled broadly as I stepped out of the car.  The old woman watched me with interest, her wrists crossed on the top of the cane.

“Hi!’, I called. “We’re with the Bernie Sanders campaign.  We are looking for Diana?”

She nodded, but didn’t smile. “That’s me.”

“Oh, good!  Hi!”, I repeated, stepping closer.

She was slim, almost gaunt.  Her hair was dyed a bright orange/red that made me think of henna, cut short and straight.  She wore dark blue plastic framed glasses, but her eyes were bright behind them.

“I’m enjoying the sunshine”, she told me happily.  There was snow on the ground, but the air was warm and the February sun very bright.  The sound of dripping came from every part of the tin roof behind her.

Diana wore a faded yellow sweater over a pair of denim overalls.  Brown leather boots were on her feet.

She still hadn’t smiled, but I forged ahead with my mission to “Get Out the Vote for Bernie”.

“I want to make sure that you know about the primary election on Tuesday, and I hope that you’re still planning to vote for Senator Sanders.”

She nodded her head vigorously. “Oh, yes, I’m pulling a ballot for Bernie”, she stated firmly.  “Isn’t it all just the most ridiculous show this year?”

I smiled my agreement, noting her British accent and wondering how long she’d been in this country.

“That Trump”, she snorted, “I can’t even imagine! What a lot of nonsense.”

We chatted for a few minutes about the election, sharing our stories of mingled horror and amusement over what we had been seeing.  As I gently asked her how committed she was to voting, and reminded her of her polling place and time, I noticed a hand written sign on the rusty storm door of the house. “Please do not let the big white dog outside.  She is blind.”

A beautiful gray and orange cat sat behind the glass, watching me with bright yellow eyes.

“We run a sort of assisted living place for old animals”, Diana stated when she saw me looking.  “We have an old pony, two deaf dogs and one blind one, and two old cats.”

At last she smiled, a mischievous grin that lit her round face. “And my husband and I, too, of course.”  She lifted her left wrist, showing me a black brace. “I tripped on a board in the barn.  Broke two bones.”

We smiled at each other for a moment, then she tilted her face back toward the sun. “I’m just enjoying the sunshine”, she said again, “I don’t dare go too far, you know? I don’t dare tumble again.”

She lowered her head to look at me once more. “But I’ll be out to vote for Bernie on Tuesday, as long as it isn’t too snowy. I was from England”, she said, “But now I vote in America.”

She straightened a bit, looking toward my parked car.  “And who is your driver, dear?”, she asked me.

“That’s my son, Matt”, I answered. “Keeping me company.”

“And he’s a Bernie man?  Bless his heart!”

We chatted for a few more minutes, with the melting snow pattering down from the eaves behind us.  It was a beautiful spot, surrounded by pine trees and snowy fields.  The sun was warm.

I don’t know if we managed to garner a single vote for Senator Sanders today, but it was well worth the long drive and the time spent walking in the snowy streets of New Hampshire.   It was worth it to have met Diana and to share her great pleasure at standing in the late winter sunshine today.

 

 

Earning a Living in the Modern World


Money, money.

How I hate you!  How I need you!  How I wish I had a big giant huge humungous pile of you that I could rely on for the rest of my life!

Yup.

I’m a pretty typical modern human.  I need money.  But I refuse to bow down to the crass need for said money.

Here’s the thing.   I loved having a career where helping children was more important than getting rich.  I loved living modestly but comfortably.

I was proud of those years when I saved up for a pair of 6 dollar sneakers for the boys.  I lived frugally, and I made do.  I bought whole chickens and roasted them and served them to the family. Then I boiled the bones for soup and chicken pot pie.  I reused my ziploc bags.   I bought one pair of jeans a year and used them until the knees wore out.

But here I am, supposedly in my golden years.  I was pushed out left teaching much earlier than I should have.  So my pension is way less than it should have been.

And I need money.

And you can’t make money staying home and being a nice older lady and reading a lot and cooking for your dogs.   I know.   Crazy, huh?  Why can’t I make a decent living by keeping my leather sofa basically dirt free?

So.  Here I am.

Faced with a dilemma.

I need to earn my keep. I’d love to think I could write the Great American Novel, but I’m not completely delusional.

I have chosen a slightly easier path.

I am going to accept ads on my blog.

Please don’t throw tomatoes!  Please don’t stop coming here to read my wonderfully pithy insights!   I couldn’t help myself.  I may be a huge supporter of Bernie Sanders and a confirmed Socialist, but a person’s gotta eat, right? And so do her dogs.

So I’ll keep on writing, and I’ll keep on lighting up with joy every time one of you tells me that you read my words.  But sometimes I’ll include a little promo for a product or two. Or three.

What can I say?  Capitalism has won this round.

But I’m still planning to wear my Bernie shirt every single time I leave my house.