By Steven Espinosa, Senior
Anyone who has sat in any of Ms. Keller’s English classes should know of the great American author and satirist Mark Twain (and if you haven’t yet, then you probably will soon). In his Chapters from My Autobiography, Twain popularized a famous quote from a 19th century British Prime Minister, and it reads: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
Sure enough, Mr. Twain was right. Were he alive today, he would have witnessed how everyone assumed for a long time that Hillary Clinton would be quick to grasp–no, steal–the Democratic nomination, only because everyone can’t keep their eyes off the statistics. The money raised by her (sketchy) super PACs, her years in our nation’s (corrupt) capital, her (debatable) foreign policy positions and previous actions: The resumé goes on and on, and it is undoubtedly impressive. It injects hope into the electorate that our next president does not have to be an “outsider” with no experience. It makes it a no-brainer for the Democratic Party establishment, which explains why the Democratic Party has had much fewer debates when compared to the number of debates held by the GOP. It reveals a candidate that is more than ready to go on with Washington as usual.
And that is exactly the problem for my generation.
We are the generation of Bernie Sanders and, as much as I hate to admit it, Donald Trump. We are tired of Washington as usual–we want authenticity. Social media, combined with the issues we learn in our classrooms and discuss with our friends and family, has forced us to recognize from early on that Washington as usual sucks. Washington as usual is why Barack Obama hailed immigrants as our valuable neighbors on his last State of the Union, even though his administration was ready to deport undocumented immigrants (specifically, Hispanics) on Christmas Day. Washington as usual is why Hillary Clinton took f-o-r-e-v-e-r to finally speak out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the continued construction of the Keystone pipeline. And, we, my generation, have seen that this isn’t cool. Washington as usual has made us believe that Washington, a city founded in the spirit of republican values and justice, is really some dark, ominous cave with puppets controlled by lobbyists and special interests. This preconceived notion has made us more likely to say that the government works more for the richest than so for the rest of us. And, mind you, this isn’t just an opinion held by young Democrats like myself: My Republican friends also agree. The corrupt environment in Washington today makes us feel powerless.
But out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope: and it was an old white guy from Vermont all along.
I will never forget when an employee from my internship last year and I first talked about Sanders, and I muttered the words that the right-wing media begged me to say: “That dude’s way too radical. He’s a socialist!” But as time has passed and we’ve become more and more acquainted with the Angry Old Grandfather From Burlington, Vermont, I’ve come to realize that he’s the only one right now that represents my not-so-radical interests. I want someone who will stand up to corruption in Washington and end it, not someone who points the finger at 9/11 for her cuddly relationship with Wall Street lobbyists. I want someone who will take climate change as a serious threat to our national security, not someone who simply addresses it and makes empty promises. And, as a gay young adult, I want someone whom I know has stood up for my rights way before the mainstream, not someone who changed her position on same-sex marriage only less than three years ago.
There are still some proposals of Sanders that I question, like the effectiveness of a 15-dollar federal minimum wage and its real impact on businesses and middle-class families like mine. In fact, positions like these that seem a little too leftist are why I stood by Hillary for such a long time. However, I’ve finally acknowledged that Bernie is a once-in-a-lifetime voice, a sincere voice that isn’t bound by the chains of millionaires and billionaires, a voice that I must lend my ears to in this crucial election year. We need Bernie.
I want to end this by urging my fellow Sanders supporters to remember Mark Twain when looking at the recent opinion polls from Iowa and New Hampshire that show Bernie beating Hillary right now. We can’t jump to conclusions. We must only wait a bit longer to see how this will turn out.
Don’t get your hopes up just yet.