Some reflections on the Illinois primary…
1. I am crazy proud of Kane and Kendall counties. That was the territory assigned to our little Batavia Engine That Could, and we delivered in a big way! Bernie won Kane by 13% and Kendall by 17%. Everyone who worked tirelessly for Bernie, you are incredibly awesome.
2. For a guy labeled a Socialist and a Communist, Bernie is the most Democratic candidate in this race. He has made it this far because people like me have given him money and time. Every phone call, every door hanger, every yard sign, every face-to-face encounter was Democracy in action. It was a beautiful thing. And here in Illinois, it was almost enough to stop Politics As Usual funded by lots of money and essentially zero people power.
3. There is something incredibly powerful about knocking on someone’s door and then engaging in really meaningful, respectful dialogue about the election. I personally talked to a husband and wife who knew nothing about the primary or the candidates. When I offered up why I’m passionate about Bernie (railing over childhood poverty and the lack of equal opportunity for low-income kids), the wife teared up and shared that she is a teacher in a depressed school district. Bernie’s words spoke to her.
I talked to people about issues. Wherever they fell on the political spectrum, many people came out onto the porch to have truly in-depth dialogue. I found common ground in every encounter. People were gracious and kind. Very few looked through the door at my Bernie sticker and just said, “No.” But that was fine too. I wasn’t there to argue. I was just spreading Democracy, one neighbor to another.
I talked to people who didn’t know they could register and vote the same day. I talked to college students heading back to school prior to the election who didn’t know about early voting. I talked to a 17-year-old girl who didn’t know she was eligible to vote (she would be 18 by November).
These are people who quite possibly had already “checked out” of politics because really, what can “we the people” do anymore? What does it matter if I pay attention, if I donate to a candidate, if I put a sign in my yard? The machine is big and powerful, and it strategizes and crunches numbers and connives and carefully crafts messages that will get the biggest bang for the buck.
But I got to deliver a different message as I canvassed in my hometown. I got to tell people that their vote does matter. That regardless of who they ultimately chose to represent them, making a choice was important. I got to tell them that Democracy with a capital D is not dead. It’s alive, and I stood on the doorstep as proof.
4. This isn’t over — it’s the beginning. Bernie fights on, and so will we. If he makes it on the ballot in November, we the people will keep working for him. But regardless, we need to look local. The first day I walked into the Batavia office, I said, “I found my people.” This election brought together lots of perfect strangers who became friends, bonding over a similar vision for a better future for this world. These are good, compassionate people dedicated to saving the Democratic process. We’re going to stick together, and we’re going to grow, and we’re going to find more Bernie People we can support in campaigns at every level of government.