At the start of the year I committed to posting an essay on this website every other week, covering a wide variety of subjects. So far I’ve veered away from current events, but that’s not possible this week because my brain has been gleefully subsumed by the Bernie Sanders canvassing experience. I cannot stop thinking about how to get more people on the streets knocking doors for our first Democratic Socialist president.
I’ve canvassed the last five Saturdays and not gonna lie, walking these hilly Carolina Piedmont neighborhoods in the January/February chill takes a lot out of me. But I also get a huge rush from talking to voters about why we need to elect Bernie. I wish I had more time and energy to give. In quiet moments, my mind strategizes when and where I’ll set up my next canvass. How many people can I train? Who’s ready to step up and host their own? I can’t do it this Saturday because I’ll be facilitating a DSA meeting, But I can train people to use the canvassing app during my breakout session, and I’ll have packets ready for them to hit the streets at their earliest convenience. Once they get a fix, I know they’ll love it, too. I’ve already seen that happen to so many of the people I’ve met these past five weeks.
These people (along with the many thousands of Sanders campaign voluneers across the country) are my greatest inspiration, way more than Bernie. Much as we love our cranky, blue-sweatered, anti-capitalist grandpa, we’re the ones powering this thing. That’s the whole point of #NotMeUs. We want a Green New Deal and Medicare, housing, and free college for all because we know these programs would radically transform our lives and the lives of pretty much everyone we know. We don’t show up on a rainy January morning because Bernie got a good dig at Biden in the last debate, or because our friends sent us a hilarious meme of Bernie wearing Juggalo makeup. We treat ourselves to the jokes and zingers because we work so hard canvassing, calling, and texting voters. And we do that work for each other.
One of the most remarkable canvassers I’ve met is a single mom of four (including a young adult w/special needs) who also helps care for an elderly parent. She drove thirty minutes with her teen son to knock doors in drizzle. A working class person who spends that much time taking care of others AND volunteers for Bernie impresses me way more than any wealthy Mayor Pete donor.
The most fun I’ve had canvassing was two Saturdays ago when I set out with two socialist comrade friends; at the end we posed for this pic I tweeted with the hashtag #HotParentsForBernie. Our four daughters (cumulative age = 21) have attended multiple organizing meetings and marches. The baby of the group has ridden her stroller on many canvasses for both Bernie and Medicare for All. Even though we all lead busy, complicated lives, it’s no wonder that parents like us show up for Sanders. We know what’s at stake for the littles, and we’re training them to fight, organize, and seize power together.