When my significant other told me about Bernie Sanders as his campaign started, I dismissed his claims that this guy sounded like “the real deal.” I was dismissive of him and told him that Clinton was going to be the nominee and that she would be president.
Boy was I wrong.
The more I listened to what Bernie was saying, the more it resonated with me. His vision for America was of a place I never allowed myself to dream of. It was an America for all of us.
Like most of the people in this country, my path hasn’t been an easy one. I am an adopted child of lower-middle income, religious, blue collar and divorced parents. We lived in a small central California farm town. We never went hungry, but we always knew struggle. We moved a lot, and I knew my parents worked hard. I was a latch key kid, and I never dreamed of college because we didn’t have the money, plus I had learning disabilities so I struggled in school.
My story is the story of so many Americans. The Americans who Bernie’s message hit home with. He could see the scars, and the suffering, the struggle. He saw us.
I began spreading the word of Sanders. I went to local meet ups, followed online groups. I voraciously foraged for connectivity to other like-minded supporters. The energy was incredible. The joy, and happiness of finding my people was an indescribable feeling. Along with this feeling something incredible happened — our message started to grow. Our far-fetched dreams were actually becoming feasible.
The media didn’t report about us and still our message spread person to person, which became part of its magic. It was personal. In this era of screens and complete disconnection, we had found a way to reconnect.
As our momentum grew ,so did the opposition. My friends are all very politically involved, and my partner and I quickly became “those Bernie people” in local social circles. We were treated like a joke. The asks of our campaign were laughable and impossible, and yet, the momentum kept growing.
Democrats told us we were wrong, we were liars, we didn’t understand the process. They mocked us, cyber bullied, name called, labeled us and blamed us. They threatened us, they dismissed cold hard facts, and black and white evidence. To this day they still carry these feelings.
I wanted a better, different America, and that made me the bad guy.
You all know what happened. I honestly don’t want to relive it. Our beautiful message of an attainable utopia was stolen from us by our own party, our own friends. They lied and cheated and put us in the middle of a terrible game of wizard’s chess.
They told us our candidate wouldn’t and couldn’t win, and that the choice they had made from the very beginning was the better choice. Do you know what it feels like to go through all that work when they never had any intention other than doing what they wanted from the start? What it’s like to be in a game that you were never ever going to win? My own party manipulated and lied to me, and even when there was evidence this happened it was shrugged off like an “oh well!”
I stayed home from work that day, and I watched every painful moment of the convention. I wept and I mourned. When I shouted “Bernie or Bust” I really meant it. My heart was with our mission. I was the last of my friends to stay on the path of Bernie. Everyone else had abandoned ship and leapt into the Hillary lifeboat.
After a little time and a moment of clarity, I realized that I could stand back and watch and be an “I told you so” or I could follow the lead of my leader. I choose the latter.
I threw myself in full force behind a candidate that had eviscerated my dreams. I loved Bernie and his message that much.
I canvassed, I door knocked, I used social media, I organized. For Hillary I did everything I had done for Bernie. I was an amazing tool to be utilized on the campaign trail because I was one of those “Bernie Bros,” and if I was able to let it go and focus on the task at hand so could you.
When I went to the Hillary campaign office in Nevada I was actually referred to several times by the disparaging names we were branded with in the primary. I was there working for them and even then I was treated as a sub class. They felt the need to note I hadn’t always been “one of them”.
I never said a word. I kept my head down and I kept working and fighting.
As the debates and the campaign progressed I became more at peace with Hillary Clinton becoming president. Sure, she was qualified. It would be nice to have a woman as president, and she had adopted a large portion of our platform. I really felt this was an acceptable compromise.
And here we are now. We have Donald Trump as our president.
I cried harder on Tuesday night than I ever have in my adult life. It felt like a death and a breakup combined. I was in utter and complete shock and disbelief. I knew in my core that this is what was going to happen, but I wanted to believe I could work, hope and pray the inevitable away. I couldn’t. I wasn’t strong enough, and I felt like I had let myself and my country down.
I went through the full gambit of thoughts and emotions. I began to read articles and posts, call people and have dialogues. Why did this happen? How do we prevent this from happening again? I thought for sure my blue brothers and sisters would see we need to assess and learn and come together.
I evaluated my own path. I had myself started to believe the tag lines, and the “isms” that the Democratic Party had given me to defeat Trump. I thought maybe the U.S. really is all racist, sexist, and facist. Maybe, I thought, this was all because she was a woman and America wasn’t ready for that. I think that there is a portion of the U.S. that isn’t ready for a woman leader, but I think blaming this situation on sexism isn’t evaluating the situation as a whole.
Then the denial of the Democrats started to pour in. I was floored. Here we are, we did this, and some of us still aren’t accepting our part in why this happened. They were still taking the road that led us to destruction.
Calling the Republicans racist bigots and not listening to their concerns is what got us here. Eating our own — the working class that is the backbone and the real base of the Democratic Party – is what got us here. We denied them their wants in the primary. We yelled at them to “get in line or else,” and now we are going to blame third party voters for this end result?!
Blame, avoidance, denial, what do these emotions achieve? Nothing.
Democrats – we did this. This is our fault. We alienated and didn’t engage our core. Our party has become Republican-light and that is not what America wants. The DNC alienated their people, leaving them with nothing to cling to but the terrifying change. You gave them the lesser of two evils and they choose no one. So they stayed home.
Yet I am not leaving this country, and I am not leaving this party.
The moderate Democrats have destroyed our party and the people have spoken. I am no longer believing their propaganda. I will no longer wait my turn and accept the crumbs they want to distribute. I will enlist in every local Democratic Party group. I will run for office. I will form community groups and organizations. I will recreate my party to match the demands of the people it should be representing from the bottom up.
Democrats, I did everything you asked of me and more. I devoted my life to you. I did things that my other progressives refused to do. I betrayed my own wishes to help you. I did all this and it still isn’t enough for you. You still blame me for wanting something fair and right. Will you please stop breaking my heart? Will you please learn from your mistakes? We need you and if you don’t work with us you will cease to exist.
Amanda Smash Hyde is a local activist and esthetician.