I just got back from caucusing, and I AM EXHAUSTED. Wow. I never thought voting could be so intense! I’ve voted a few times before, but back home in Indiana we don’t have a caucus, so all you have to do is fill out a paper ballot. Tonight was very different – lots of people talking animatedly, and lots and lots of headcounts.
I’m super tired right now, but I’m so so glad I went! It was pretty amazing to be among the first group of people in the nation to vote in the primary election, which narrows the field of candidates and helps to determine who each party will eventually nominate to run in the general election in November.
If you’ve read some of my recent blog posts and/or follow me on social media, you’ll know that I support Bernie Sanders! One of the perks of living in Iowa for school is that we vote first in the primary election, and as a result the candidates spend a lot of time campaigning here. I’ve been to not one but two of his Iowa City rallies, and I’m very grateful for those opportunities. I was thrilled to finally caucus for him today, and even more excited to find out that he won in my precinct!
Iowans don’t vote directly for their preferred candidate – instead, we elect delegates to vote for us. Delegates are allocated in proportion to the number of caucus-goers who are in favor of that particular candidate. In my precinct, 519 out of 636 voters supported Bernie, and the rest of the votes went to Hillary. (Martin O’Malley got none, but… TBH, that’s what I expected.) So in the end, Bernie received five delegates and Hillary received one.
The results of the Republican caucuses are in – Ted Cruz won, which is terrifying because Ted Cruz is The WorstTM – but so far only 93% of the Democrat caucuses have reported their results, and the election is too close to call anyway. As of this very moment (10:50 PM CT), Hillary Clinton has 49.8% of the vote, and Bernie Sanders has 49.6%.
AHHHHH I’M SO EXCITED. His popularity really increased during the last few months, and he’s proved to be not just a viable but a formidable opponent to Hillary – who seems, I think, to have sort of assumed that it would be an easy race?
Anyway. I’m very pleased with the results so far, and eager/anxious to see the final results tomorrow morning. In the meantime, I’d like to tell you why I support Bernie! I don’t talk about politics very often on this blog, mostly because I have so many other things on my mind most of the time, but I think it’s important to discuss it every one in a while, and I feel very passionately about this election. If this is a subject you don’t want to read about, then by all means you are free to stop reading here, but I really really want to talk about it tonight, so I’m going to.
I’m not exactly sure how to transition into this part of the part – which issue do I discuss first? – but I’ll do my best. The following items are not listed in any particular order of important, BTW.
He’s pro-choice, which is hugely important to me. If you don’t like abortion, don’t get one, but don’t tell me what to do – my body is my own. I never ever EVER want to have children or even give birth, and it makes me super uncomfortable to hear other candidates talking about how they think abortion should be banned in most or even all situations.
I agree with Sanders’ stance on maternity leave and equal pay for equal work, as well.
LGBTQ+ rights – OK, this is a HUGE one. The Republican candidates strive to limit or even take away my rights, and Hillary… gah, Hillary. She supported the Defense of Marriage Act, and only declared her support for marriage equality in 2013. Maybe she sincerely believes that queer people are just as deserving of rights as straight people, but it honestly doesn’t feel that way to me. It feels like she’s just saying that to get votes – she’s the sort of ally who only becomes an ally when it’s favorable or even trendy to do so, and I abhor those allies.
That’s why I agree with and admire Bernie’s stance on various social issues: He’s incredibly sincere. He has a long record as a women’s rights supporter, and an equally long one when it comes to racial issues. He joined MLK’s 1968 March on Washington, for instance – clearly, his concern about racial divides isn’t a matter of jumping on the bandwagon in an attempt to be popular.
And LGBTQ+ rights? He’s supported us since the seventies and eighties. He was one of the few US Representatives to vote against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and DOMA. There’s an excellent video floating around the Internet of Bernie Sanders speaking out against the bans on LGBTQ+ people in the military in 1995, before I was even born.
Being an ally certainly wasn’t popular back then, so it’s not as if he was being one in an attempt to grab votes – he did it because he cared. I’m not aware of anyone else who has professed their allyship for such a long period of time… and if I’m being completely honest, I don’t know many allies who even care that much.
So that’s what a lot of my support for Bernie boils down to – he’s very sincere. Implementing all his plans and policies will certainly be a battle, especially if we elect a Republican majority in the House and Senate, but he means what he says and I just don’t get the feeling that the other Democratic candidates do.
It terrifies me to hear other candidates discuss their immigration policies, because they’re sooooo ignorant. We’re a nation of immigrants! I don’t understand how anyone can seriously talk about building a wall to keep people out, because the ancestors of the people saying that kind of nonsense certainly weren’t the first to get here. Do people just forget that the Native Americans were already here, or what?
I LOVE his stance on the environment, renewable energy, et cetera. I worry about our planet a lot, and how so many people from generations before mine don’t seem to care one bit about the fact that their children and grandchildren need clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.
Moving on to economics, Sanders is in favor of raising the minimum wage (to make it a “living wage”) and making college more affordable. In terms of the former, I can tell you without hesitation that most of my coworkers at my old restaurant job were not teenagers – most of them were adults who worked more than one job in order to pay off their college debt. (So I guess this sentence ended up being about both of his economic policies, in a way? Cool.)
It’s ridiculous that my generation is told we have to go to college in order to “get good jobs,” only to find that there are not enough job openings, and that most of them don’t pay well enough enough to let us pay off our debt, while the interest on our student loans keeps adding up. It’s ridiculous that not everyone who wants to go to college is able to. I have a lot of friends who did end up going to college, but not at the school they wanted to attend. They were accepted to their dream school, but couldn’t afford it.
It’s getting late and I need to go to bed, so I’ll just talk about one more stance that I really care about, because… honestly, I agree with him on practically every issue, but I do have some that are more important to me than others.
Big Money, for instance. We don’t live in a democracy anymore; we live in an oligarchy. Money influences elections far too much. Bernie Sanders doesn’t have a super PAC – his money comes from small donations made by individuals, unions, et cetera – and this is another reason why I admire his sincerity. LOTS of candidates talk about “getting Big Money out of politics,” and then they accept huge sums from corporations. I’m glad that we still have a few politicians left who refuse to play that game.
….aaaaaaand it’s long past my bedtime, so I’m going to end this post here. I didn’t even get around to discussing foreign policy or a hundred other issues, but that’s OK. I’m going to get some sleep now, and then I’ll be sure to check the election results first thing tomorrow morning. I can’t wait to learn of the results of the rest of the primary, as well as the general election this fall!