Truth be told, I gave up on politics a long time ago. It happened when I watched George Bush Jr. ‘win’ the presidency twice in what were very dubious circumstances. As I watched the country, then the world, get torn apart, I simply chose to walk away from the political scene altogether. It was clear that neither my vote nor my opinion counted, so what was the point?
Then it happened. One day I came upon a YouTube video of a Bernie Sanders speech. Although I would ordinarily pass such a video by, I felt compelled to watch this one. As I did, I found myself being drawn into the world of politics once again. Although reluctant at first, I soon immersed myself eagerly in what I felt was a promising direction, one that could actually bring meaningful change to the political landscape within my lifetime. I allowed myself to get excited, even to go as far as to admit that I had been wrong when I said the whole system was beyond repair and needed to be burned down and rebuilt from scratch. Then everything fell apart and I was left wondering, along with millions of others, just what the hell had happened. Only now have I been able to piece things together in a way that makes perfect sense.
In order to understand why things went the way they did, it is necessary to replay the events that unfolded. Even when I had been actively involved in politics in the past, I had never gotten caught up in such things as primaries and the like. This time, however, there was such an energy behind the various campaigns that it was hard not to get swept up in the momentum. As I watched the debates, I saw something I had never seen before. The stage was filled with more than just old white men. There was diversity in gender, race and even age. For the first time in my life, it seemed that the people were finally being represented in a more fair and balanced way. Would this be a turning point? Would this be the beginning of the change?
Although I was excited, I was still cautious. Sure, there were women on stage, and people who may have more than five years left in this incarnation. But what were their policies? Did the substance match the façade, or was it all just for show? As I listened, it became clear that although there was a fair amount of BS being shoveled about, there were also interesting and innovative ideas being discussed. There were policies being presented that would do more than maintain the unacceptable status-quo. And so, I allowed myself to get even more hopeful in the potential at hand.
While several candidates had good charisma and even decent ideas, it was Bernie Sanders that really resonated with my beliefs. He spoke of medical care for everyone, something I was totally on board with. He also spoke of making significant changes with regard to how we treat the environment. Climate change was among his big talking points, and that really excited me. For once there was someone who was not only presenting something other than abstract promises, there was someone who was actually making sense.
As the debates continued, one by one, various candidates began to fall off, reducing the size of the playing field. Yet, against the odds, Bernie was still alive and well. Gaining both support and popularity, it was clear he was more than a mere competitor. He was the real deal. And, although he was older than I would have preferred, I realized he may be the person to lead this country in a new direction. He may be the one to lead us out of the desert and into the promised land.
But then it all happened. The other candidates converged, forming a unified opposition to the Sanders campaign. In a move that resembled three-dimensional chess, all the seemingly opposing candidates suddenly sided together, agreeing on one central issue. That issue was a return to the past, a promise to maintain the status-quo. Suddenly, regardless of how much or how little support they had, the race was down to two men─ Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. And it became clear to anyone with half the sense of a tree stump that the political machine was very much set against Bernie, despite how much the people supported his policies.
In the end, the race would be between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, two very old, very white men who were promising to move backwards rather than forwards. Whether it was ‘Make America Great Again’ or the promise to return things to normal, it was clear that both candidates were focused on the past and not the future. And thus, we had the unchanging face of politics. Old men refusing to let go of the old ways. In the end, it seemed that nothing had changed, and perhaps it never would.