OP-ED: Bernie Supporter for BidenWashCo Dems op-ed article

by Lisa Stiller, Washington County Democrats Education Caucus Chair

I am a two time Bernie delegate. Yes, I am voting for Biden.

Four years ago I dropped everything I was doing to spend the year volunteering for Bernie Sanders. I have been following Bernie for decades and I believed (and still do) that he is truly the hero standing up for all of us. My socialist mother had just passed away, and knowing how much she loved Bernie I knew that using some of her inheritance money to do this was what she would have wanted.

I phone banked, organized fundraisers, planned organizing meetings, helped train Bernie speakers…you name it, I did it. But Bernie didn’t make it. Lots of blame to go around: campaign could have been better, DNC was scared of Bernie and supported Hillary, Russian interference, voter suppression, disenchantment with the democratic process after Hillary won the nomination. In the end, it was very evident how much danger the country would be in if we allowed a Trump presidency. I urged my friends in swing states to do what it takes and vote for Hillary. Yup, got some Bernie people upset.

The past few years have been outrageous, and 2020 could go down one as one of the biggest nightmares in modern times. As we watched in horror, the Trump administration separated families and threw the immigration system into chaos, rolled back environmental protections including acts assuring us of clean air and water, cut health care provisions of the Affordable Care Act while repeatedly trying to abolish it, made cuts to public education, emboldened white supremacists and other hate groups, raised taxes on low income people, and made cuts to essential safety nets such as nutrition and housing programs. And then along came the pandemic.

The US has just four percent of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s Covid-19 cases. We have had one of the worst responses to the pandemic with no national strategy; in fact, the national strategy appears to be to spread Covid-19 as much as possible as president Trump uses coercion to open the economy and schools, despite the public health risks to life, health, and safety. Over three and a half years ago we were looked up to as leaders of the free world; people wanted to come live here and study here. We collaborated with other countries, we respected science, and although we often took to the streets over our presidents’ actions, there was a standard of decency and respect towards others that has not been apparent in this president since the start of his campaign. President Trump’s cruel, callous policies have contributed to the deaths of over 218,000 people [as of mid-October 2020], he has destroyed environmental policies of past presidents, and has created a climate where hate and bigotry has flourished. He has declared war on immigrants, he has encouraged voter suppression, and he has tried countless times to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, which flawed as it is, has helped 22 million people gain at least some health coverage.

Bernie Sanders ran both times on a platform that put people first. He wanted every person in this country to have the opportunity to thrive: he supported a universal health care system, free public higher education, a green new deal, a living wage, affordable housing, policies to support racial justice, a welcoming immigration policy, a foreign policy based on peace and diplomacy, and protecting and improving social security. Sanders supported policies to lift up our most vulnerable population. These are things he has supported his whole career, and he is still standing up for us.

No, Joe Biden is not Bernie Sanders. The DNC still needs a lot of reforming. Many would still like to see a multiparty system. But Bernie is out there stumping for Biden because he knows that we must not have four more years of Trump. He knows hundreds of thousands of lives are on the line in this election, the continued rise of hate and bigotry is on the line, the health and welfare of the people in this country is on the line, our very democracy is on the line. Bernie is on the side of the people. Trump does not care one bit about the people he was elected to lead. Biden will stop the bleeding, start the repairing. And after the election it will be time to press our elected leaders for the progressive legislation Bernie has been advocating and work to return our country to a place where compassion, caring, and respect lead our priorities.

Yes, I am voting for Biden. As Bernie says “not me, us”. So my vote is for the ‘us’ of this country.

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