Millions of people from all walks of life have one thing in common: Bernie Sanders. Some have been activists or politically engaged for decades. Others had never taken an interest in politics before 2015 when Bernie rose to national prominence.
No-one could have known just how Bernie and his Political Revolution would take off.
What we did know was that the Democrats, the so-called party of the working people, was anything but. When you look at their voting records instead of their rhetoric the only thing differentiating them from the GOP is gay wedding cake.
It seemed there was no home for so many of us on that very limited political spectrum. The Democrats were too smug and elitist while the Republicans were, well, Republicans. Countless people lost interest in the political process and fell into the trap of knee-jerk lesser-evilism voting or simply ceased to participate in the process at all.
Then Bernie strode into the national spotlight with his simple message of equality and dignity for all Americans, not just the ones who could buy it (yes, equality and dignity are commodities in America. Ask any poor person.)
And suddenly, legions of dissatisfied and disenfranchised voters were mesmerized and galvanized by a candidate that actually addressed their needs and concerns and not those of high-dollar donors.
Bernie provided countless Americans with the political niche they’d been searching for. They rallied around this plain-speaking senator from Vermont who’d been almost singlehandedly championing working-class Americans longer than many of them had been alive.
Almost overnight, Bernie went from speaking to tiny gatherings in rural New England to massive rallies all over the country faster than you could say, “enough is enough.” He gave voice to millions of Americans who felt they’d never been heard in the political arena.
He gave us hope. Real hope.
And he made us a force to be reckoned with. We looked to our left and right and saw thousands of other people who shared a passion for fairness and equality.
No longer feeling alienated and shunned, we embraced our new tribe and celebrated our new-found camaraderie. Berners worked together, developed enduring friendships, and fed off each other’s enthusiasm, proving civic engagement isn’t always a boring suckfest.
Not if you’re working for positive change with positive people, that is.
Bernie was, and is, the uniting force of the modern Progressive Movement he brought to the forefront of American politics. No matter what transpires in 2020 or beyond, Bernie Sanders changed the U.S. political landscape and millions of lives forever just by being Bernie Sanders.
History will judge him, and hopefully us, kindly.