Bernie Sanders is a bad driver
For the past few weeks, I have driven around pretending all the bad drivers around me are Bernie Sanders. I don’t think Bernie Sanders is a bad driver but more often than not when I look at the car diving 10 mph under the speed limit, cutting me off, or making a right from the left lane the dominant features of the person are: white male, white hair.
To be clear, I love Bernie Sanders. Nonetheless, the probability of Bernie being a bad driver is high, he hasn’t had to drive himself around in who knows how long, plus how many 74 year olds do you know that are actual good drivers. Luckily, my love for this man has made my driving experience on the streets of San Francisco much more pleasurable because instead of getting frustrated, I’ve started to laugh it off like “Oh, there goes Bernie again.”
All this has got me thinking, what if when all these bad drivers are not behind the wheel they are spearheading monumental change? What if the bad drivers are fighting for social justice? What if it’s the woman who was raped by that jerk* in Stanford? What if it’s my yoga teacher, my doctor, my best friend?
Being a bad driver is only a part of their identity. Do I really want to be mad at someone who I don’t know who could be out changing the world and making my life more comfortable and peaceful? All of this and the developing political tension, specifically within the democratic party, has got me thinking about how we act, how we talk and how we feel about the people around us.
It’s disheartening to see the arguments happening on my social media between friends who support Bernie and friends who support Hillary. There’s very little respect, listening, or compassion. It’s a lot of people projecting their own discomfort and frustration with a candidate, or the system, on the person who is supporting the candidate. The problem is that people are seeing things in black and white, like their candidate is the only choice, all or nothing and the other candidates are wrong and bad. The more time passes, the more supporters see only the positive side of a candidate and fewer things wrong with them, likewise supporters on the other side do the same and the gap between us becomes greater and greater.
It’s not that simple. It’s not as simple as one candidate being completely right and good and one being only bad. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn puts it, “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who among us is willing to destroy a piece of their own heart?”
What I see is that I love Bernie Sanders for all my own reasons, a myriad of reasons that been influencing me since I was born into a middle class white family in the United States. Many factors have influenced my choice both including and actively excluding today’s media, living in California has probably helped, too. I think Bernie is great but I don’t see him as God. I know he is a bad driver, I know he has flaws. And I don’t expect you to choose the same candidate as me although I expect that we can have mature and intelligent conversations about it. Every supporter has a story. They have a lifetime of events that have brought them to where they are and why they are choosing their candidate, sometimes we disagree with the way people go about choosing who they support, like maybe their story is invalid.
Our candidates our complicated, they are people, they have stories and yes, they lie. We are all intricate and imperfect, add the media to the mix and things only get worse. They have compassion, some more than others. Every one of us has our flaws, including bad driving. It doesn’t make us better than anyone else because we are supporting someone who we think is “the best.” It doesn’t make us better people when we shove our beliefs in someone else’s face without listening to their story. What does make us noble and good people? Listening. Listening to what other people are saying, where they are coming from, hearing about how their life has led them to supporting someone or not. It’s about understanding that we do not always have influence over people. We can stand strong in what we believe in and we can talk to people about why without being overbearing. We can see that each person is more than their bad driving and more than their life changing drive for change, ultimately they are both and that’s the beauty of human existence.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
*insert your own PG-13 description for Brock Turner here