An Open Letter to Warren and Bernie Supporters
To Whom It May Concern,
Here are a few thoughts on Warren, her supporters, and our movement…
For anyone who supported Bernie in 2016, you can certainly understand how difficult it is to have loved and believed in a candidate so deeply, and then to have to accept them dropping out (and then being pressured to endorse the competition). You’ll remember the pain being dismissed. Please consider this when addressing Warren’s supporters.
We have a saying when working with people who have suffered trauma: DON’T SHOOT THE WOUNDED! Be kind. Have empathy. Be supportive. People grieve in different ways.
Anyone who supports Warren for her policy vision fundamentally agrees with us and is already a part of the movement. You might remember how it felt to have been abused by online troll accounts hired by David Brock’s Hillary PAC, Correct the Record amidst the bitter agony of watching the democratic establishment put its finger on the scale against Bernie.
Also, please consider the lived experience of women trapped in a patriarchal system. In many ways, the finger is always on the scale. It is true that the United States of America is long overdue to elect a woman president. I can only imagine what it was like to finally have a viable candidate who also shared your values and vision for progressive policies, only to have to accept that now your choice was between two white men.
My hope is that this can, in turn, also generate empathy for what Bernie supporters went through in 2016 when we were forced to choose between two candidates we saw as equally unacceptable.
I invite you to consider one more important fact— Bernie Sanders and his movement are committed to equity. It cannot be denied that representation is important, and an important milestone. I would also invite you to consider that the patriarchy will not be transformed solely by the election of one person. The election of Barack Obama certainly didn’t transform systemic racism in this country.
Bernie Sanders and his movement are committed to an agenda that will demand pay equity, paid family medical leave, and other important policies that will finally level the playing field for women. This is not enough. Transforming the patriarchy is also about an evolution of consciousness and healing trauma. This is only accomplished when we foster a culture of solidarity that’s committed to self-transformation as well.
This movement is big. It’s diverse. It’s largely women lead, no matter what you’ve heard.
To my fellow Bernie supporters, I urge you to consider these suggestions. Have empathy. Be patient. Don’t make people wrong. Don’t be a jerk. You have a right to be angry. It’s been a hard road and will continue to be. You have a choice though — to be self-righteous and argumentative — or to be a leader.
Let this extend to those who supported Hillary Clinton or other centrists. They may want to engage in ad hominem attacks, but don’t take the bait. Every one of us is an influencer and a representative of our movement.
And to the Warren supporters, please also consider that a few of the loudest voices don’t represent the whole and certainly do not represent Bernie, who has consistently been exemplary in modeling behavior. He has been committed to women’s issues his entire life, whereas Biden voted to allow states to overturn Roe vs Wade.
Biden also participated in the attacks of Anita Hill and stood up for her perpetrator Clarence Thomas.
The distinctions between the two are stark, and regardless of how Biden faired in predominantly red states on super Tuesday, Bernie is by far the best candidate to defeat Trump in the general election
I’m very grateful to my brothers and sisters who have invited me to take a higher path. I ask for your support in continuing to do so, and I apologize for the times I haven’t been my best self.
Revolution can be messy work.
This is a powerful moment for the progressive left to unite. The climate crisis is real. A second term of Trump’s fascist regime is real. If Biden is handed the nomination, he will lose to Trump and the movement will most likely be greatly diminished. The stakes are high, and we can only do this together.
P.S. Bernard brothers, don’t model yourself on Chapo Trap House. You’re better than that. Our movement has been smeared and branded as toxic, so don’t give ammunition to these tropes! If you really love Bernie and this vision we have been fighting for, resist the impulse to indulge in attacks. Let’s show everyone who we are and the love that fuels our movement!
Thanks for reading!
From Occupy to Standing Rock, Jay Ponti has been a grassroots political organizer. He was the co-creator of #BankExit, the campaign which ignited billions in fossil fuel divestments. He has masterminded direct actions with Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, and other luminaries, which received international media attention.
Jay was a strategist for the 2017 California Poor People’s campaign that coordinated simultaneous actions occupying capitol buildings in 35 states where over 2500 people were arrested to stand for climate justice, criminal justice, health care as a human right, undocumented rights, homeless rights and many other critical issues facing our nation.
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