I’m not a hugely political person. Had you told me I’d be this way ten years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. Growing up, I spent a good amount of time wanting to be President. Then I realized how much I dislike crowds and kissing babies and so on and so forth. I stayed passionate about causes and keep my knowledge of current events as fresh and informed as possible.
If you had told me six months ago that I would volunteer (spontaneously, too) to go to Bismarck as a district delegate for Bernie Sanders, I’d have called you crazy. Hillary Clinton was running! I couldn’t NOT support her, right? But the more I started listening to Sanders and to Clinton, the more I realized that I am, in fact, a democratic socialist at heart. Sanders lined up with my ideals better than any candidate has that I can recall (even before I could vote). As I told my cousin in December, I didn’t dislike Sanders, but I wasn’t “Feeling the Bern.” Oh how that has changed.
I am not delusional; I realize that it will be nearly impossible for Sanders to secure the nomination. This does not mean I will waver in my support of him. I may not have been with him at the beginning, but I will sure as hell be there at the end.
My poor friends have been suddenly blasted with pro-Bernie and pro-Sanders (let’s be honest, the way they portray him changes with how they refer to him) media on Facebook, which I usually keep mostly politics-free. My Twitter stream is alight with excitement over the coming caucus on the 18th. I’m even considering campaigning to be a national delegate (though the more I think about it, the less of a good idea it seems). I’m texting and calling EVERYONE. In the last few hours, I’ve become that person everyone hates – the person shoving politics down the throats of the unwilling.
It was hard to put a finger on the actual reason for my excitement. Was it because Sanders won my area by a landslide (and went on to take the state of ND as well)? Was it because it was slapping the face of the AP press who called things too early (even if they end up being correct)? Though those things contributed, sure, it’s not the reason I left the district caucus shaking with excitement.
I live in a state who has voted red since my father was four years old. It is considered a safe bet that North Dakota’s electoral votes will go to the Republican nominee (though I will admit to some doubt after seeing how many people turned out to caucus). Essentially, when it comes to the presidency, my vote does not count. I know that is a very unpopular thing to say, but given the history of North Dakota’s voting and the fact that we only have 3 electoral votes anyway (so, we don’t really matter much in the long run), I’ve long given up the belief that “every vote counts” in a presidential election. If you’re in a swing state, yes. But for states like ND, it doesn’t usually work out that way. A quick aside – GO VOTE. Just because it may not make a difference doesn’t mean you should take that gamble. And I’m only speaking of presidential races – be active in your state and city politics!!
Back to what I was saying though; my whole voting life has been in states where I knew that my voice wasn’t going to make a difference in the fact that the state would go red. Filling out the ballot was more a form of futile protest than actual exercise of rights; at worst, it was because I was duty bound as a good American.
This race for the Democratic nominee is the first time where my voice has mattered. My voice, and the voices it’s shouting with, is helping to shape history. No matter who claims the nomination, this race has been one that will make the history books. The movement that Sanders and his team have created is, to my knowledge, unprecedented. We’re at the end of a long road and probably not going to see the goal we’d hoped for, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t finish. My standing by Sanders by being a district delegate (even though it is a small voice among many) rather than just giving up and supporting Clinton is my embrace of my rights to have an opinion and to vote. For the very first time, I have the slimmest chance to help shape history into a future that would be good for all of us. Yes, it is selfish, but when I’m 90 I want to be able to say that I was on record as supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders in his race for the presidential nomination (and then hopefully his race to the election).
Tonight, my voice (and the voices of so many others) was heard. My voice mattered, and that isn’t something that your average, pink-haired, tattooed twenty-something can say often when it comes to politics. That’s were this euphoria is coming from – the fact that I actually mattered. It scares me to think that if I, and everyone else like me, had stayed home thinking our voices wouldn’t be heard in the din, the caucus would have gone very differently. The only person I can thank for lighting a fire in me to actually care that my voice is heard is, in fact, Sen. Sanders. I can’t cheapen that by backing down in my support now. If Sanders concedes or loses fair and square (which, I remind you, he hasn’t done yet), then I shall happily, if not a bit bittersweetly, support Clinton in her campaign. I am not “Bernie or bust.” I’ll still hang my Bernie Sanders for President sign proudly, though – this caucus (and this whole race) has reminded me of the fire I used to have inside of me, before I became disillusioned with the world at large. I’m feeling the Bern, and I don’t think that flame will go out for a very long time.