I have never fully agreed with the positions of any candidate for whom I have cast my vote. But I have voted in every election since I cast my first ballot for Jimmy Carter. I take my responsibility seriously. I vote for what I believe in, even at times when I know my candidate of choice doesn’t have a chance to win.
I am, unashamedly, a progressive, a description that best describes me, but doesn’t define me. I have voted for Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Yes, my voter registration says ‘Democrat’. This year, I will vote for the Democratic Party nominee for every and all reasons one can imagine.
I believe we do more in an election cycle than simply pick a person. We vote for principles, for issues both personal and communal, and, when it matters as it does now, for change.
Until 2008, I was nothing more than a voter. That year, I volunteered for the Bill Richardson campaign. I had followed him and respected him and through a strange set of circumstances became the Pennsylvania Volunteer Coordinator for his campaign. We had some impact, but he dropped out early. I was approached by both the Obama and Clinton campaigns to work for them but declined. I wasn’t a political activist, I told myself.
In 2016 I was living in Florida and for a time was on short term disability awaiting some long overdue surgery. My son tricked me into working a phone bank for Bernie Sanders one night (my son never showed up), but the bug bit me again. The Florida Democratic Party was holding its meetings in Orlando and I volunteered to work a booth for Sanders. That evening a number of people gathered at a local bar and I was asked why I supported Sanders when he had no chance to win. My response was that as long as he was in the mix his agenda was part of the conversation. And while he might not win, he was talking about things that we needed to talk about.
In November 2016 I gladly cast my vote for Hilary. And I truly believe that Bernie brought many issues and ideas to the table that we might not have heard, might not have thought about had he not been in the fray.
In 2018, after moving back to Pennsylvania, I found myself volunteering for a progressive candidate for Congress, Greg Edwards, a progressive candidate I learned about because Bernie came to town to campaign for him. Greg was a distant 3rd or 4th in primary to fill a newly defined, empty Congressional seat. He lost. But he closed the gap and, I believe, made a change. On election night, there were many tears, especially from young volunteers and staff. I pulled some aside and told them ‘we didn’t lose, we moved the needle. This community is now talking about issues they weren’t talking about before. You made a change”.
This year my schedule hasn’t allowed me to get involved as much as I’d like but I try to be as engaged as possible. Yes, I support Bernie Sanders. I do not agree with him on every issue but I am in his corner and would like to see him become our 46th President. Yes, we NEED a new President!
In 2020 the stakes are high. This is a not a time for protest votes. (I’ve made some in the past.) This is not a time to stay home on November 3rd because your favorite is not on the ballot. We are fast approaching the time we cannot be progressives or moderates. We need to be change makers.
When we do we can repair the damage done to our country in the last 3 years. We will move forward on health care, immigration, climate change, financial inequity, gender and racial inequality, social injustice and so much more.
We will do more than ‘move the needle’. We will make our country what it needs to be, what we believe it should be.
What it can be.