Bernie Wants Us to Do in 2017
Bernie Sanders' Liberty University speech was historic. For me, it was the highlight of his campaign.
In reading the back story in his new book, Our Revolution, I learned some things that help inform the work we're doing at Women for Justice.
If we're honest, our organization and others like us spend too much time preaching to the choir. To be sure, we're pretty pleased with our choir, but is it growing? Not nearly enough.
We need to make new friends and try to change some hearts.
What did Bernie do when asked to speak at Liberty University, to people he thought may disagree with him, to people NOT in the choir?
"Virtually all of the previous speakers had been conservatives, most very conservative. My instinct was to accept the invitation.
First, I always enjoy speaking to young people. Second, the thought of speaking to a group of people who looked at the world very, very differently than I did was intriguing and challenging...Jane agreed with me, but not everyone in the campaign was on board. There were some who felt that going there could cause a rift with our supporters in the women's community and the LGBT community. Why, some supporters might ask, would we visit a university that had such a horrendous attitude on women's rights and gay rights..." - Bernie Sanders, Our Revolution
1. Open our door to everyone, even if our friends are offended.
Bernie didn't reflexively close the door as so many of us do when faced with opposing views.
Let's be like Bernie, crack open the door and support others who are doing the same.
2. Give respect and expect it in return.
"After the officials at Liberty University assured my campaign that I would be treated fairly and respectfully, and that there was no intention to embarrass me or 'set me up', we agreed to accept the invitation. - Bernie Sanders, Our Revolution
Bernie and his team only wanted to participate when they were sure there would be no low blows or sneak attacks.
Let's make sure everyone knows we intend to be fair and respectful to all, and will not engage in gotcha games.
3. Go where we haven't gone before.
When he accepted the invitation to speak at Liberty University, Bernie not only opened the door, he walked through it.
He went there.
We need to do the same in 2017.
Spend time befriending conservatives online or get out there to some of their events.
Remember: Bernie championed the 50 state strategy.
He gets it. We can't win if we don't go there.
But what do we say when we cross that red line?
"Was it possible to find some areas of common ground? Wouldn't it be useful to give these students a perspective that many of them may never have heard?"- Bernie Sanders, Our Revolution
4. Speak on what unites us.
It's human nature to see what makes us different. But when we speak?
Bernie starts with shared values. And he spent a lot of time during his campaign reciting the long list of popular initiatives supported by a majority of Americans.
The political and moneyed elite prefer to keep the people focused on what divides us.
2017 is a very important year for shoring up alliances and building bridges.
Let's keep the choir in tune by sharing facts, practical solutions and all the inspirational grassroots actions happening in our country.
But let's be sure we also open our doors and go there.
Blogger Pat Downs is a retired librarian.
She co-founded Women for Bernie and is a founding member of Women for Justice.
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