by Rebecca Torpie
Technically, Bernie Sanders is running for President as a Democrat, but his brand of Democrat is progressive, and frankly, for me, he is a very refreshing alternative to the usual suspects vying for President. I really like this guy. And so do a lot of other people.
Last Thursday, 24 people showed up at my house in Mt. Airy to organize boots on the ground to get Bernie elected. Progressive Democrats of America has been supporting “We Want Bernie” parties all over the country. This was the first, and I guarantee you not the last, in Philadelphia.
If you haven’t heard about Bernie yet, here’s the Vermont Senator’s platform in a nutshell: enough is enough with the billionaires running our country and reaping the benefits at our expense. He’s a straight-shooter who has worked tirelessly for 40 years standing up for issues that many Americans care deeply about: healthcare for all, a minimum wage that families can actually subsist on, transforming energy systems away from fossil fuels, equal pay for women, expanded Social Security and major tax reforms that eliminate loopholes for large corporations, just to name a few issues.
The crowd was psyched. We snacked and chatted for a few minutes and then got down to business. Folks went around the room and talked about why they were happily willing to do what they could to support Bernie. They are walking the walk, just like Bernie himself. Here are just a few of the reasons why they took the time to come to a stranger’s house in Mt. Airy on a Thursday night to support Bernie:
• Jessica Foley, reporter, South Philadelphia: “I love Bernie because Bernie speaks like a human being when he steps up to the podium. This may make me sound dumb, but I didn’t know politicians could do that.”
• Marjorie Winther, human resources manager, Mt. Airy: “He speaks truth to power.”
• Eric Beechwood, communications coordinator, Millville, N.J.: “This is my opportunity to ‘be the change I want to see in the world.’ Bernie will improve the lives of everyone I know — my son, my 80-year-old momma, my veteran uncle, my LGBT friend, my ethnic co-worker and my college-attending sister.”
• Lori Zett, professor, Germantown: “I have been following him for many years, and he has ALWAYS been on the side of the true America and the American people. He will not disappoint!”
We are a passionate group. We believe that while the system may be rigged in favor of the money trail, casting a ballot is still a powerful thing. We don’t need the kind of money the other candidates are raising because we don’t need to repeat the same tired rhetoric over and over again until people believe it. People don’t need to hear Bernie’s message twice to respond.
Last Thursday evening, we donated over $500 to Bernie’s campaign and signed up 15 people willing to phonebank, knock on doors, host a house party like this one and pledge to attend local Bernie events. There’s a lot to do until 2016, but let me tell you, this group is motivated and a force to be reckoned with.
Bernie’s campaign is entirely grassroots, like for-real grassroots, Mt. Airy-style, if you will. He will never have, nor want, the obscene coffers of the super PACs. He doesn’t believe that big business should be allowed to dictate elections. His willingness to take the risk of being authentic, to walk the walk in lieu of being subsidized by big interests is what has captured the hearts and minds of many more people than the pundits had originally anticipated.
If you know me, you know I’m a doer, and I can be annoyingly dogged about getting things done. These folks didn’t need any haranguing from me to walk the walk. They are ready to roll. They know what they need to do, and they’re ready to do it.
Rebecca Torpie is a marketing consultant who specializes in working with values-based businesses. Always the dutiful lefty voter, she wasn’t a campaigner until she found Bernie. A native of Chicago, she’s been an adopted Philadelphian for 10 years, four of which have been spent in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill.