When did citizens of the United States adopt a defeatist attitude?
For months now, I have read time after time that if elected president, Bernie Sanders "won't be able to get anything done," and that his policies will "never be passed" because of Republican opposition.
But what does it say about the United States if its citizens are afraid to vote for a candidate because they don't believe their government will allow the leader of the free world to address the biggest domestic problems it faces? Moreover, what does it say about us?
Many Americans grew up hearing about heroic protests. Hundreds of thousands died fighting for their vision of the United States in the Revolutionary War and in the Civil War. The African-American Civil Rights Movement saw boycotts, sit-ins, marches and other forms of protest (including Bernie Sanders' arrest while protesting segregated schools in Chicago). And tens of thousands of citizens demonstrated their opposition to the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s.
No idea is more fundamental to Americans' sense of ourselves -- as individuals and as a nation -- than freedom, and we have always been shaped by our battle for it. Millions of Americans have marched, fought and even died for their beliefs and principles.
But based on the aforementioned argument against voting for Bernie Sanders, many people believe we shouldn't elect him to be our next president because... his policies might be blocked by other elected officials?
... officials elected to represent the best interests of the American people?
... at a time when many of Bernie Sanders' proposals are supported by the majority of Americans?
Nobody is asking you to pick up a musket and march onto a field and risk being shot and killed among thousands of other Americans. Nobody is asking you to take time off work or quit your job so you can go march in freezing cold weather, or walk to work for 381 days. Nobody is asking you to clash with police officers and risk being shot. Bernie Sanders is simply asking you to register to vote, and then vote. It's not hard to fight for your beliefs in 2016.
When did Americans stop standing up for themselves to tremble in fear of a bunch of old people in business suits?
Are you truly happy with the state of our country? Because I am not. I am not happy when millions of Americans can't afford medical care. I am not happy when sick people can't afford to buy medication they need to live. I am not happy about contemptible African-American male incarceration rates, or the fact that incomprehensible mandatory minimum sentencing policies are destroying lives. And as someone who would like to start a family some day, I am not happy that America has the worst paid family leave policies of any developed country.
Our government could easily pass legislation to alleviate the hardships faced by millions of Americans. To begin that process, all we must do is elect officials with the courage to do so. And as one of those officials, Bernie Sanders has shown consistently for decades that he stands for the fundamental principles of freedom and will stop at nothing to help all Americans attain a higher quality of life.
I know a lot of us are comfortable. The internet is great. Television is great. Fast food is great. We have new Star Wars films. What could be better, right?
But if you take a close look, you can see a darkness under the light of day-to-day living. And the status quo is not going to change that. Our forefathers did not stand by and say "legislators will abolish slavery some day" -- they fought for it. Our parents and grandparents did not sit at home during the Vietnam War while their brothers and sisters were dying and say "eventually our politicians will get us out of there" -- they protested. People like Bernie Sanders did not idly watch as his fellow countrymen were mistreated and say "maybe some day our country will be less segregated"--they stood up for what was right.
So do not tell me with a straight face "I agree with Bernie Sanders' ideas, but I won't vote for him because Hillary Clinton is a more 'realistic' candidate who can slowly enact change." That is a surrender, and that is not the way of this great country that I've learned about for my entire life.
I completely understand that not everyone agrees with Bernie's policies, and I can respect many reasons for voting for another candidate. Do you disagree with Bernie's policies? Fine, then don't vote for him. Do you disagree with his voting record? Fine, then don't vote for him. But don't you dare cast a halfhearted vote for someone else just because you're worried he'll lose a fight, because that's not in the spirit of this country. At all.
And on a final note: don't give me the argument that I'm "naive" or that I don't understand how politics work. I'm not stupid. I get it. It will be a fight. But I'd rather fight and lose than roll over and accept failure. And I hope that you'll confront your pessimism and mistrust of the system and take a bold step to fight with me.
We are the citizens of the United States of America, and this is our country. We are blessed with the privilege of being able to write our own history. And the time to do it is now.
This post originally appeared on CodyGough.com