I am a liberal. A progressive. A Democrat. I’m the daughter of a blue-collar, tool and die maker who spent the majority of his life working for the auto industry in Detroit. I’m the granddaughter of a man who was on the front lines at the birth of the United Auto Workers union. My blood bleeds blue – it’s who I am and how I was raised.
Some of us are born into a political affiliation. Some wander there influenced by views gathered through life. I once briefly dipped my foot into Republican waters in the early 2000s when I voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor of the state of California. My vote wasn’t entirely for him, but in part for the Kennedy legacy he married into. I thought that surely, somehow, he’d bring a little Camelot to the Golden State and all would be good with the world again. He was fiscally conservative, but socially liberal. He spoke my language. Albeit, with a thick, Austrian accent. I never told my parents I voted for a Republican. Not that they would have cared. But I kept that secret hidden away with the one about me crashing their car in high school and blaming it on the “lady at the golf course.”
We cast our votes, not only for a candidate, but for the issues they stand for. I vote for the things that are important to me: Equal pay for women, the right to affordable health care, bringing manufacturing back home, protecting social security, raising minimum wage, gun control, environmental issues, a woman’s right to choose. I’m vehemently opposed to discrimination of any kind whether it be toward people of color, religious groups or people whose sexual orientation bucks the status quo. I would never dream of telling anyone which God they should worship – if any – or what partner they should share their life with.
Like I said, I am a progressive.
In the 2008 primary, I voted for Hillary Clinton. I was #WithHer when a hashtag was still known as a pound sign. When she lost the primary election to Barack Obama, I was sad, but quickly brushed myself off and did what I had to do for my party. I supported Obama. At the time, I was working on-air for a progressive radio station in Los Angeles. Even at that time, to some on the far, far, far left, Hillary was far too right for their taste. The majority of those people voted for Kucinich in the primary. Some supported John Edwards. Not until I took that job did I even realize how many different shades of gray there were in the Democratic party. I thought a liberal was a liberal and we were all on the same page. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. When I innocently voiced my support for Hillary on air I received a slew of hate emails with messages ranging from, “You’re a FRAUD!” to “You should be dead.” My party. My tribe. My people. Wishing death upon me because apparently I wasn’t progressive enough for what they believed a progressive should be. I had never even received this sort of vitriol from a Republican before. This was foreign to me. My own people saying, “You’re not good enough for US!”
Eight years later I’m experiencing a lot of deja vu. Kucinich has been replaced by Sanders and some Sanders’ supporters are crossing their arms, digging in their heels and saying, “If I can’t vote for Bernie, I’m not voting for anyone!”
Bernie knows this is problem. I know this is a problem. And I think Bernie now sees that this voter – who he built from the ground up – needs a change of heart pronto or Trump is going to take this election. I’m actually steeling myself for this moment. Trying to picture the world in a year from now while walls are being built around us and Trump’s picture gets plastered on the side of gilded-gold buildings country-wide, Kim Jung Un-style.
This scares me.
I wept a hundred times during this year’s Democratic National Convention. Just looking into the crowd – the beautiful, colorful, DIVERSE crowd that is my party – I knew I was home. I had no doubt that this is the side my ideals, beliefs and sensibilities jive with. I’m 1000% where I’m supposed to be.
I’m not going to tell anyone how to vote or who to vote for. Minds can seldom be changed. But I will caution those who lean left – who may have their backs turned away from our party’s candidate – that a vote not cast, or a vote cast for a third party candidate “to make a point” is a fatal move in this election. The numbers are just too close. Had the tables been turned and Bernie ended up our candidate, I’d be behind him 100%. I know I could grow to love another candidate. I don’t believe we only have one soul mate in this lifetime. Though I didn’t get the Hillary I wanted in 2008, I got an Obama that I grew to love more than I had ever imagined. You might feel the same way if you just open your mind.