I started writing for Occupy Democrats in July of 2013, and stopped in January of 2014. There was nothing wrong with the work, or the message, or the site, I just lost motivation. I couldn’t write anymore, it made me feel unhappy because I was already in a dark place, and I didn’t want to be the cause of negativity. I had suffered from depression before, and so I just needed to take time away from everything. As these kinds of things often go, it snowballed, and spread to other aspects of my life. I didn’t want to even get out of bed some days, and on others, I didn’t. I could barely eat, and I couldn’t sleep, and it didn’t take long to lose a job, and a relationship. Life felt like an old country song. I managed to find work that summer, but it was temporary, and like millions of other Americans, I spent over a year out of work. President Obama is a smart and good-hearted man, and he’s done a lot of work towards making this country better, but with almost 322,000,000 Americans as of this writing, it’s inevitable that some of us just slip through the cracks, and end up left behind.
With very little money, no job, no car, and an overwhelming feeling that nothing was going to get better, I felt like giving up for months. Every time the news came on someone was getting sued, or killed, or Congress was in deadlock with nothing getting done to help the middle class, the working poor, or the homeless. I spent many long nights alone, contemplating killing myself, because I didn’t see any reason to continue existing if this was how it would always be. I didn’t want to force myself into a job I hated, to pay for things I didn’t want or need, to fill a house I didn’t have time to live in, to impress and accommodate people I didn’t actually like. The entire process seemed pointless, and when I looked around it genuinely seemed like nobody cared on a national scale, and this was further reinforced in day-to-day life. Then, at the end of this past April, the wheels were set in motion for everything to change, when Senator Sanders announced his candidacy.
It started out as merely a whisper, a campaign for the sake of putting out a message, with its best hope to end on a moral victory; It grew to a murmur and then a declaration, and finally a roar when he started touring campuses and small towns, drawing crowds of 1,000, 4,500, 8,000, then 28,000… I listened to his speeches, and when I finally had the good fortune to see him speak, I was moved beyond words by both his passion, and his compassion, his honesty, and his conviction. He seems to genuinely care about the American people, as evidenced by his plans to eliminate the private prison industry, significantly raise the minimum wage, fix the funding issues with Social Security, expand Medicare to cover all Americans, and provide paid family and medical leave.
Further, Sanders has remained unwavering and steadfast in his resolve to combat special interests that are taking advantage of average working families like Wall St., “Too big to fail.” banks, and the pharmaceutical industry. I don’t mean to make him out to be a superhero, or a modern day messiah, as I’m a reasonable man and while excited, I remain grounded. He definitely isn’t perfect, and he makes mistakes; He is just a man, and he is just human, after all, but he’s a good man, and as best as I can discern, an honest human being, and a true humanitarian. Qualities individually worth more than all the big money in politics could ever buy, and priceless collectively.
Bernie personally gave me hope, and motivation. I think he represents hope to a lot of people, and while anything can happen between now and November of next year, win or lose, that gift of hope that things, that wild idea that life could get better has helped me personally. I’m back on my feet, and working again, and trying to better both myself and to help others around me. I would encourage anyone who reads this, who feels like giving up, not to. Things can change. Find a way to move yourself into the next day, regardless of whether your motivation is political change, your family, or cat videos on Facebook. It gets better.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.