Today, along with Derek Prindle and Jim Zurn, I put in a few hours of going door-to-door in the city of Oneonta, New York, to campaign for Bernie Sanders. In the past few weeks, the three of us have formed a good team, and pounded the pavement from Binghamton to Oneonta ….and many towns and villages in between.
Oneonta is perhaps second to only Ithaca as far as being an island of liberal-progressive culture in the conservative sea of upstate New York. It has two good colleges — Hartwick and SUCO — which enrich the area. Zurn and I have been attending progressive political meetings and rallies in Oneonta for four decades now. I’ve spoken at both colleges a number of times over these years.
In Binghamton, we had focused on a neighborhood comprised of low-income families, and college students. The response we got was overwhelmingly pro-Bernie Sanders. Today, we canvassed in a middle class neighborhood, and received pretty much the same response. In total, only three people said they were going to vote for Hillary Clinton.
Two of the three were college students, canvassing the same neighborhood for Clinton. They were very friendly, and the five of us had a pleasant conversation on the sidewalk. We all agreed that we will need to identify common ground after the Democratic National Convention. The worst potential outcome, we know, would be having Ted Cruz somehow elected as president.
There was a single Donald Trump supporter. Perhaps coincidentally, he was a very angry white man. His rage was so great, that he was incapable of articulating anything beyond shouting, “Donald Trump!,” and glaring at us in disgust. We thanked him for his input, and moved on. This is not to suggest that all Trump supporters are thus limited.
If the republican establishment is able to keep Trump from gaining the nomination, my son Corey points out, a lot of his supporters would vote for Bernie, if he is our nominee. But none of them would vote for Hillary, if she is given the nomination. For within both of these political parties, there are growing tensions between the establishment and a growing segment of registered voters.
Somehow, the establishment failed to see this coming: even a year ago, they were promoting another Bush vs. Clinton contest, as if they were Don King, promoting an Ali vs. Frazier super fight. And more and more, the public began to recognize that they were dealing with the Dons and Kings of an elite establishment. But then, Jeb Bush displayed the regality of an inbred poodle, and provided us with the most pathetic presidential campaign in our nation’s history. (“Please clap.”)
What really stood out to all three of us today was the excitement and optimism of the Bernie Sanders supporters. Many of them were of our age group, and we all agreed that we are experiencing the same passions as when Senator Robert F. Kennedy ran in 1968. It has been our generation’s dream for many decades. We are happy that we are alive to see it, and to be part of the Sanders Revolution.
We are teachers and carpenters, social workers and attorneys, parents and grandparents. We are invested in making this country a better place for our children and grandchildren. We are men and women; black, brown, red, yellow, and white; we inhabit cities and towns, villages and “the sticks.” We are invested in making this country a better place for our children and grandchildren. And we are putting our minds together, and focusing on the concepts of social justice. That is power. That is real power, that money cannot buy.
There is something in the air in upstate New York. The three of us kept saying it to each other as we progressed. And numerous people we spoke with noted the same thing. Many of us have children in college, and we are expecting a good student turn-out tomorrow. When all the votes are counted, I will not be surprised if Bernie has pulled off an upset.