As I talk about Senator Sanders and his 2016 campaign there are a few archetypes of responses I get and here is how I answer when faced with three of the main reactions:
The ‘Conservative’ Reaction
- Bernie Sanders is a Socialist/Communist!
When I get this reaction I generally let the individual vent and express their feelings. Then I ask them if they have grandparents that need social security or medicare. I’ll ask them if they have ever been unemployed and needed unemployment insurance.
I ask them if they ever had to call 911 for an emergency or if they knew someone who needed help for a fire. I ask them if they have ever enjoyed a family vacation out of state and have driven on the highway to help provide their family with a wonderful experience.
- It’s important to explain that socialism is used as a scare word but it is not pure Stalin communism. Socialism is a means in which the government takes money and helps use it to better the lives of all of us. Socialism allows us to travel and in the cases of emergency it allows us to have safety in times of crisis. Socialism is what allowed the brave first responders on 9/11 to run into the towers and save so many lives. Socialism is what keeps out country safe and runs our military.
I explain how Senator Sanders is trusted in Vermont and that he has served the American Government for decades and he is a man who believes in the working class of American people (who are struggling). I explain that Bernie is not as much socialist as he is a man who fights for the rights and the future of the American people within the American political system. He stands firm in his beliefs just as many heroes of our nation have done in the past he is not afraid to be honest about who he is and what he believes; even at the cost of his own ambition.
I then discuss how Bernie wants to make all lives better by taking back America from the banks and elites that have robbed the common American voter of their power. I talk about how Bernie was strong enough to stand against the Iraq War (and in the minority) and that he /fights/ to restore the /democratic/ process for the people and seeks a revolution to empower American voters in their own national discourse.
2. Who the hell is Bernie Sanders?
This is an opportunity I love. Because when confronted with this issue I first smile and know I have my greatest opportunity for spreading the word about why I support Bernie Sanders in his campaign.
I begin by talking about Bernie Sanders Civil Rights records. I talk about how even as a young man Bernie was principled enough to be a member of CORE and SNCC and I explain the importance of these two groups in the fight for equality. I talk about how he was there for the March on Washington and that he has been a champion of equality from the start and he has carried that banner through his entire political career.
I describe how Bernie as a young man was arrested for protesting and distributing flyers against police brutality against African-Americans.
I then talk about his current plan to fight racial inequality which is a far cry more than /ANY/ other politician in this election.
You can read more about how I feel about Bernie and Civil Rights here:
Or just go to his website and read his plan for yourself:
When I find that the person I’m talking to is a Hillary Clinton supporter I point this out:
The Apathetic Citizen
3. I Don’t Care About Politics
With political science in my college teaching background and as a man who fully believes in the power of the vote this reaction spontaneously breaks my heart. And I lament this response because I know that we as people can improve the lives of the majority of our country just by participation.
This answer to apathy is one I would encourage you to give straight from your heart. For me I talk about the wealth income gap. I discuss how I do not want my children to have little chance for success in their lives as the power of the elite in our country grows continuously through decisions like Citizens United. I describe my personal story and relate it to why participation in this election is absolutely imperative for me — and why I fight for what I believe in. I describe how I tie apathy to the same as culpability when facing the problems we have today in our American society. And I describe how I cannot sit down passively while my country is sold to the highest bidder.
For you I encourage you to reach into what drives you to engage in these conversations. Use your knowledge and passion to give your own testimony on why we must rise up and form a political revolution in this nation. And be honest and sincere.
And to close in these dialogues I discuss my passion and energy and why I put so much into a politician that I also believe is honest and sincere. I describe Bernie’s policies on his donors and how he refuses against his own political interest to fund his campaign and sell himself in order to ‘win’. And I tell them how I feel that Bernie Sanders is a genuine man with a compassionate heart and a love of the American people.