I’m still holding out hope for a Bernie Sanders win. Just on principle. And, I just need something to believe in–a touchstone in this off-kilter, discordant world. As a feminist, I would love to see a woman in the White House, but I don’t trust Hillary Clinton, not that I feel that any politician can be trusted. Now, if it were Elizabeth Warren, maybe…but I’m not really writing this to get into a political debate, nor am I particularly concerned with logical analysis in this blog post.
This election has been emotional and very personal for me. I remember seeing myself through the eyes of (conservative) Florida—labeled a failure by Florida’s education system that was actually failing me (and continues to fail young people today), looked down on and ostracized by the Florida elite, and constantly reminded that I was nothing everywhere I went (such as in the case in a Florida library when a woman staffer looked at me in my below-minimum wage work uniform with an expression like she stepped in garbage and went and hid in the back rather than have to help me at the counter I was approaching). Broke, jobless, and out of options, I sold almost everything I had, packed the rest in my car, and went back to college, via student loans. In Vermont. I was 28. There, I not only managed to get my degree, but was made aware of the fact that I have ADHD. After I was diagnosed, the school taught me coping skills to help make me successful and stabilised in life. I also worked with an activist and puppeteer from Argentina that helped me make sense of the police brutality I routinely saw in Florida (firsthand), and gave me a cause to believe in and fight for. Social injustice. Being broke, I had to return to Florida, where my degree didn’t mean anything. After getting fired from the YMCA for having dyed my hair pink (which made me a bad role model for kids—their words), I finally landed a job interview for a pet day care. The offered pay was $4 an hour for cleaning kennels and such. “Take it or leave it,” the guy said, “there’s lots of people willing to work for that pay.” I should have taken it. Fifteen years and a Master’s degree later, I still don’t have steady work, and I have student loan debt I’ll probably never be able to pay back.
This is why I still want Vermonter Bernie Sanders to be my president. Why I still hope that the United States will enter into a new era, and reverse the horrifying backslide it’s embarked on, despite the fact that Clinton is deemed the Democratic candidate.
But the reality is “Not likely”. I found myself thinking last night: What kind of country is this where a dishonest hatemonger like Trump has a chance of being President? I just don’t understand. But, in some ways, this is representative of America, if you look at certain eras/trends in this country’s history. Maybe this should be a wake-up call—that the U.S. is place that fosters greed and consumerism over sustainability and its local communities. A place where women still don’t have equal pay. Where we can be raped and our (white male) attackers get off with a slap on the wrist (yes, I’m referring to the Stanford University case, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/stanford-university-rape-case-the-victims-letter-in-full-a7067146.html and http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/06/08/stanford-had-a-rape-every-two-weeks-before-brock-turner-was-caught.html ) while African Americans (for example) carry heavy sentences for petty charges. It’s like nothing changes. It’s 2016 and racism is still endemic in this country, and ingrained sexism makes women less than zero in the courts, on the streets—even in their homes, in hospitals and doctors’ offices, and in the workplace. Plus, it only takes the simplest of math (even with our failing public school education) to realize that the minimum wage level can barely support one person, not to mention an actual family. That’s if you even have minimum wage. And, now, companies are re-learning all the loopholes to really cheat their workers, making me really glad I didn’t pursue my career in food service, despite how broke I am.
When I went back to work in food service after college, I worked for a place called Charley’s Subs. While there, you were graded on your work performance. You had an actual script that you had to abide by when working the register. If you missed even one phrase, or failed to say it the right way, you got points taken off by an investigative person from headquarters. They had a clipboard and stopwatch. The stopwatch was to time how long you went through this spiel for the customers—you couldn’t take more than X number of seconds for each phrase. (I’m not making this up—this really happened). If you went over the time allotment in making a sandwich/meal, you also got points taken off. Enough points collected, and you were in danger of losing your job. But, here’s the other catch. You’d be fired, right? Nope. As informed by an employee with a family to support, they’d just keep cutting back your hours until you were forced to quit. Then, once you quit, you’d have a black mark on your employment record, and they’d give you a bad review to any future employers that might call to check on your work there—according to this staffer. You know, the old “Why did you quit” line. That’s why we need rights and protections for all workers—guest or otherwise—enough this with “Right to Work” garbage that erases what little protection workers in this country have.
If I had any money, I’d move out of this country. But I’m trapped on this sinking ship (Titanic the Sequel, essentially) called the United States. Bitter? Yep. But not bitter enough to abandon my hope, yet, that Bernie Sanders can still win. Because I keep hoping that maybe one of these days, I’ll win, too. That I’ll be somebody successful and worthwhile. And that’s what Bernie Sanders represents for me. Thank you, Mr. Sanders, for hanging in there till the bitter end, no matter what the outcome.