Thursday, December 24, 2015

Bernie Sanders makes me feel good about me

We've seen a lot of articles making the progressive case for Bernie Sanders, and I'm inclined to think they're right. On policy grounds alone his platform is much stronger than either of his opponents, who will both continue to cut welfare, sell out to Wall Street, and further entrench the neoliberal status quo. Strategically the case for Sanders is even stronger, as he is the only Democratic candidate who consistently and decisively outpolls Trump, and since his election would clearly advance socialism into mainstream American politics as never before.

But none of this gets at why I want Bernie to win. I want him to win because I like him.

I know this sounds subversive and edgy in our left-brained, data-obsessed, hyper-technocratic society - but I just don't care. Because we have come to a point in our nation's history when I need to legitimized and empowered - when the world says to me, Carl, it is now your turn to decide who will be the president of the United States.

And I choose Bernie, because I want Bernie to be happy. I want him to wake up one morning in his cute white sleeping cap and clumsily plop on his wire spectacles and say to himself, "This is the White House bedroom. I have made it." I imagine him hobbling bleary-eyed down to the kitchen and affectionately shooing away the dining staff so that he can prepare a bagel with a single slice of tomato and a poached egg. He sits down on a balcony overlooking the south lawn and mutters angrily to himself as he pages through the New York Times, but for Bernie Sanders this is the happiest he's ever been.

Confession time: Bernie reminds me of my dad.

I had a rough time in high school. My family just moved into town my freshman year, so I didn't know anyone when I arrived. When you're a young boy with an awkward smile and a body still adjusting to the traumas of puberty, it can be hard to make friends. I remember nervously watching the clock at lunchtime, preparing to sprint to the cafeteria so that I could pick any seat I wanted instead of having to invite myself to someone else's table. That shyness is still with me to this day, and it afflicts millions of American children regardless of gender, class or race.

Bernie's supporters watched him announce his run for president with mixed emotions, because we always knew what would follow. The tweets. The reaction GIFs. The parody accounts. I still vividly remember in 2000 on an AOL bulletin board, when a Gore supporter posted this during the Democratic debates:

If you supported Bill Bradley and you saw that ASCII art, you were traumatized. Back then we were able to call AOL and get them to terminate GoreGuy69's subscription, but what can you do today when a Hillary or O'Malley troll violates your mentions tab space or assaults you with a violently ironic RT?

I do hope Bernie makes the internet a safer place for people like me, but that's probably just a dream, and in any case it's not why I'll vote for Bernie. Maybe I want to vote for Bernie because - in a way that only Bernie fans can understand - voting for Bernie is a lot like voting for me. When Bernie wins the election, I'll put on my Bernie mask and I'll walk through DC and I'll thank everyone I see for their support. And when I finally go to sleep that night, I'll think back to AOL, and I'll tell myself: "Looks like BERNIE BOY just got DUNKED ON BY ME."