When I was pregnant in 2016, I knocked on doors in three states in freezing temperatures for Bernie Sanders. Now with my 2-year-old in tow, I spend a lot of Saturdays on a park corner with other Berniecrats in my blue Bernie T-shirt.
Let’s be honest: When I first heard about the heart attack that Sanders had early this month, I cried doing the dishes.
With my baby’s first years slipping away, it is like a tide is pulling away and revealing the sharp, grisly underside of the reality I face as a mother. When she falls asleep at night, I am struck by her supernatural beauty. I ask myself: What hubris permitted me to bear this innocent creature into what lies ahead?
If you are of the majority of Americans who believe the scientific consensus about climate change, then this is what you believe: We are facing a seismic catastrophe.
Yet, over and over, we are shoved by the Democratic Party toward compromising, gutless candidates. Which grinning charlatan will best please the masters of war, the Fortune 500 royalty, and all the sycophants lapping at their heels?
In this moment — when we have been forced back into the muzzle of America’s real history; when we see white nationalism parading, gesticulating, glaring with triumphant eyes and a grin; when we have little more than a decade to completely redesign our way of life lest we surrender our children to the vicious winds of calamity no human at any point in history has known — it is not the time to play ball yet again in the crooked all-American electoral game.
If we are serious about our children having a future, then we have no choice but to make America live up to its potential by creating an ambitious Green New Deal that thoroughly reworks our economic systems. We have no choice but to root out the reigning terror of white supremacy and the most frightening of its henchmen — the towering industrial complexes that lie to, manipulate, abuse, poison, imprison and detain us.
No president can or will do this. Let me repeat. No president can or will do this. That includes Elizabeth Warren, who is great and whom I adore. If your plan is to vote in November 2020 and then sit on your haunches grumbling over the newspaper, your choice for president is irrelevant.
The only thing that can save us is a mass mobilization of people all across this country that rises up and demands the overwhelming system changes that we need to save the planet. And that is where Bernie Sanders, stents and all, emerges as our greatest, unequaled contender.
I remember receiving his first e-mail announcing his plan to run in 2016. Who could have imagined what was going to happen? Do you have any idea the odds against him? Do you have any idea how impossible what he has done is? Do you have any idea how many e-mails he has sent me since that day?
Bernie Sanders changed the entire political discourse. He made the unthinkable everyday. But, really, he didn’t do it. We all did. We created a groundswell of populist action. With our tip money and our feet on the ground. This is the only reason anyone is talking about Medicare for All or a Green New Deal or free preschool, for goodness sake.
When we elect Bernie, we elect activists to be emboldened and to grow in numbers. We elect students, union members, workers, immigrants — people of all ages, all races, all genders, all sexualities, all religions, all regions. We elect ourselves to be citizens. We elect to have an actual democracy.
It is only mass action, “millions of people coming together,” that can save us now.
I will be damned if I tell my daughter, grown and aware and suffering, one day, “I’m sorry, darling, we just couldn’t manage it. We just had to smile as we backpedaled, tremulous and weary, into the end of the world.”
So, I am ready to throw everything in, every last drop, to really see it happen. For, at this unprecedented moment in human history, I am taking this thing seriously. Please, join me.
Crystal Yakacki is a home-visiting public health nurse in Minneapolis.