Passing judgment on someone based on how they look is human nature. If they look disheveled, they must be poor. If they are attractive and “in shape”, they must be wealthy. If they are overweight, they must be careless. If they are too skinny, they must have an eating disorder or have control issues. However, these assumptions are not always correct and are absolutely damaging (in some way) to the individuals in which they are being prescribed.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a post on my Facebook timeline comparing Donald Trump supporters to Bernie Sanders supporters in regards to how they looked. The Trump supporters were two 20-something females, scantily clad in bikinis, lounging around on a private boat (indicating wealth) wearing “Make America Great Again” hats. Next to this photo was a picture of a man with crazy-looking multicolored hair wearing a Bernie 2016 shirt. The point of this post was to dichotomize these two groups of supporters based solely on appearances. Now, before people start thinking “Jeez, this girl needs to learn to take a joke”, let me make clear that I appreciate satirical political posts as much as the next person, but this one post, for some reason, has really stuck with me and really bugged me.
I think it is absolutely unfair to suggest that one group of people is better than or more deserving than another group based on their looks and social standing alone.
As I stood among thousands of Sanders supporters during his rally in Lexington, KY on May 4th, there were a mixture of individuals. Sure, there were people who would fit the mold of the stereotypical “Bernie supporter”: Hippies, Millennials, Crazy Old Mountain Folk with long beards, cargo pants, and hiking boots, etc. Mainstream media has created a depiction of this group that supports the narrative that these individuals are irresponsible people who do not conform to accepted social norms and are, therefore, a threat to the established “social equilibrium” existing within this country. However, I have a curve ball for you.
These kids right here are Bernie supporters. They look relatively normal, huh?
Upon hearing that I planned to attend Bernie’s rally in Lexington, my little brother asked if he could go with me. Political discussions are not off-limits in our household and my parents and I endeavor to be as honest and straightforward as possible with my brother concerning current social and economic problems in our country. He has heard my mom and I go toe-to-toe about my support of Bernie over Hillary (who is the candidate of choice with my parents) and he still is drawn toward the solutions offered by Bernie to help heal our country’s social and economic woes. I understand that he is only 9 years old, but it is never to young to encourage political involvement and awareness since, after all, ignorance of our political system is what big-time politicians pray for because that is what keeps them in a job. The more educated an individual is about the process, the more able they are to demand politicians that work for them instead of those who work for big business and the 1%. Even though he is 9 years away from being able to vote, it was important for him to hear the speech of this revolutionary man because a politician like Bernie does not come around very often.
It is unfair to assume that all people who support Bernie Sanders and his mission to build a country that Americans can be proud of again are selfish millennials who don’t want to work, but would rather live off of “other people’s” money.
It is true that Bernie is most popular among voters 45 and younger, which is also the group least likely to vote. Why? Because “Millennials” are extremely disillusioned with the current state of American politics and they are desperate for a change. Anyone remember President Obama’s initial election in 2008? He carried the young voters because he ran on the platform of CHANGE. Whether or not he has been effective in that promise is a whole new discussion, but I digress. This is what Millennials want: CHANGE. We want career politicians out of Congress. We want big money taken out of politics. We want a government that works for the people like this fascinating little piece of American history called THE CONSTITUTION guaranteed.
But, guess what?
We aren’t the only ones desperate for change.
As I stood among the rally attendees, I stood among individuals from many different walks of life. There were 20-somethings, professionals, nature-lovers, veterans, African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, elderly, infants, rich, poor. This want…no, need…for change is not localized in one demographic population. It spans social classes, racial/ethnic affiliation, geographic location, and generations. Last night, Senator Sanders proclaimed that Donald Trump would never win the White House because the American people understand that diversity makes us strong. Diversity is the foundation upon which this country was built and any individual who is as hell-bent as Trump at destroying that does not have the best interests of the United States at heart. Love Trumps Hate and it always will.
It is unfair to assume that Bernie supporters are raging left-wing socialists who want to dismantle the American political system.
I first began identifying with socialist ideals when I was in high school. I wasn’t what you would call a “full-blown” socialist, but some of their beliefs and proposals intrigued me. Now, you can imagine the reaction I got when I shared this information with some of the students in my high school class…especially since I attended a high school in Appalachian Kentucky where a good majority of my friends were raised in Conservative households. The term Socialist was quickly turned into Communist and that started a whole new kind of conversation. This is the problem with American education–students are taught that Socialism and Communism are basically the same thing and that Capitalism trumps (see what I did there?) all. I’m not supporting the complete overthrow of the capitalist system and neither is Bernie. He just simply wants to create an America where everyone, regardless of race, creed, or circumstance, has the chance to succeed.
*Cue Conservative rhetoric about how everyone can succeed through the bootstrap mentality*
I’m not here to argue about how the American Dream is no longer attainable for the vast majority of the citizens of the country or how our economic system is broken and inefficient for the masses. I am simply trying to point out the fact that Bernie and his supporters are not geared toward overthrowing the American governmental system as it stands…we are simply pointing out its egregious flaws and how those can be remedied in order to positively impact the masses as opposed to the elite few.
I think that Jon Stewart really hits the nail on the head when it comes to why Bernie scares people so much. Senator Sanders is so fearlessly authentic in a realm where authenticity is not acceptable and not the norm. He says what he thinks (in a socially appropriate manner, mind you) and he is focused on the American public. He is running a campaign solely on individual donations, which is practically unheard of in today’s political climate. He sees his constituents as a family as opposed to faceless individuals whose main purpose is shelling out donations. He is a man for the people, not a man for the elites. He believes that everyone deserves equal access to healthcare, paid family leave, a living wage, and basic human rights. Maybe this sounds radical to some, but it just sounds like common sense to me.
Call us left-wing extremists. Call us socialists. Call us whatever you want. But we prefer to see ourselves as humans. Humans helping other humans. Humans loving other humans. Humans promoting equality.Humans who love their country and want it to succeed. Humans focused on rebuilding a nation for the people. Humans who #FeelTheBern to help build “A Future To Believe In”.