29 February 2016

Political Revival: A Tale of Bernie Sanders and the Internet


One of my friends and fellow activists recently penned an essay personalizing his support of Hillary Clinton's candidacy. I offer the following not so much as a response but rather, to provide a similar tale of my own journey in supporting Bernie Sanders's presidential candidacy. Tif's writing inspired me to return to my writing roots by authoring an essay-turned-short-story, written more in a poetic prose than the usually journalistic-styled English of an article. I hope this narrative will inspire you while infusing hope into our collective efforts in supporting Bernie's political revolution.

Please keep in mind that while this narrative is sprinkled with many facts, much of it is my personal experience and opinion. I wish Americans were familiar with the differences between fact and opinion, including the varying degrees that exist between those two extremes. I also wish people were familiar with how to engage in civilized debate, which includes recognizing when there is a debateable issue. I fear very much that this election cycle is bringing out the very worst of our inability to agree to disagree, as well as engage with one another on an adult level. But I digress....

Chapter I - Due Diligence
Chapter II - Coming Out Republican
Chapter III - Resilience, Deferred
Chapter IV - Bern, Baby, Bern
Chapter V - It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over
Chapter VI - Onward and Upward

Find out when to vote for Bernie in your state's primary election.

Chapter I - Due Diligence

After learning of Bernie Sanders's intention to run for president, I began listening to the speeches and interviews he'd given. I watched video after video after countless video—probably more than a few hundred hours' worth—watching videos of Bernie giving speeches, talking with people, being interviewed, and, generally, just being Bernie.

I listened, and listened, and listened some more. Then, I began asking my friends (most of whom were supporting the pre-ordained Democratic party favorite, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) what the hell was going on. I was assured that Bernie was a "fringecandidate who had less than a snowball's chance in hell of winning a single election, much less the nomination or presidency. I essentially was instructed to stay the course and support the candidate who would make history by becoming the first female president of the United States.

Not being satisfied with that answer, my response was a firm and resolute, "why are you supporting Hillary instead of US Senator Bernie Sanders, who has been better and more consistent on our issues of LGBTQ equality, especially as he has been a leader in support of our community for decades?" They typically responded with the narrative Clinton has laid out: she would make a better candidate because she's better on the issues, more experienced, more electable, the only candidate who can beat the Republicans, etc. In essence, they provided mere generalizations that Clinton is the most qualified candidate ever to run for president, etc.

Being an incessantly and unrelentingly inquisitive pain-in-the-arse (i.e., PITA, which is how many of my New York friends intentionally pronounce my name), I pursued the matter with a drum-beating, "but WHY?" More often than not, they repeated their generic answers in response. I never was given a concrete reason to which yet another "but why?" could not be relentlessly raised in response.

And then there was Bernie Fucking Sanders, who provided all the "Whys" right out of the gate. Most often, by the time he was finished with his narrative, my questions had already been answered. There are numerous videos of Bernie participating in Q&A sessions with audiences, such as this one:

I continued this process over the course of several months during which I was accused of attacking Clinton and not keeping an open mind, simply for asking questions. Apparently, this is a "thing" with Clinton's supporters: no longer is one allowed to question actions or policy positions, nor is one allowed to compare or contrast such actions or positions with other candidates. Doing so is now defined as attacking candidate Clinton by her supporters.

Let me repeat: In trying to determine whom I should vote for and possibly support in the 2016 presidential election, during my routine due diligence, I was attacked by Clinton's supporters simply for asking questions. I was belittled and personally attacked nearly every time I raised an issue or had a question about her ever-changing positions. The energy was dark and clouded, almost frenetic.

The tone of the attacks I endured in trying to learn more about, and come to the truth, was along the lines of, "How dare you even question the supremacy of our anointed goddess!" The energy I felt was as if the slightest scratch at the surface of the juggernaut would completely unravel the candidate. There was no room for any sort of dissent. Indeed, those attacks have only worsened since declaring my support for Bernie.

Bernie's supporters, on the other hand (much like Bernie himself), gladly answered what few questions I had. They typically proffered, "OK, you want answers, here are answers." It was an entirely different energy, in an entirely different atmosphere. I was drawn to that more positive, more welcoming energy.

Chapter II - Coming Out Republican

From as early as my middle school years, I have been involved in politics. One of a few high school students who, with some regularity, showed up for village council meetings, I spoke up on issues I felt strongly about. I registered to vote on my 18th birthday, as a Republican, and haven't missed a single election since (except for board of education elections, often because they weren't well-announced).

I have remained in the Republican party and have always considered myself a progressive, following the paths of the philosophies of Republicans such as Lincoln, Hayes, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Rockefeller. I was involved in my local committees and elected to political office as a district leader, a position I held for many years. I volunteered in the county's Young Republicans and eventually was elected as its Secretary and then its Vice Chair. I helped out on a number of campaigns, both at the village/town, county, and state level, as well as some presidential races.

During the 1990s, I began the process of coming out of the closet as an openly gay male. A friend and I co-founded a local chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, with the full support of the county's party leadership and prominent elected officials. That, in and of itself, was impressive as this was the 1990s, a time when being openly gay was not well-received and even most Democrats were opposed to LGBTQ equality in any form at the time, let alone Republicans. The thought of running for public office at some point in the future was starting to be discussed.

Peter C. Frank at the 07.01.2012 NYC
Vigil for Mollie Olgin & Mary Chapa
Not only was I deeply entrenched in the GOP and someone who was becoming known within the local and state party leadership but I had become a fierce activist on LGBTQ, mental healthdisability, human rights, and various other issues.

Chapter III - Resiliency, Deferred

Shortly after the turn of the century, I was involved in an automobile accident with fatalities. I have no memory of being in that accident and spent close to one year in hospital recovering from my injuries. I survived but was broken. I withdrew from the world, stopped living, and scarcely existed. I let the terms of the offices I held expire and withdrew further into myself.

As I withdrew from the world, I saw how truly good people running for office were dismissed by an uninformed electorate ill-equipped to wade through the political morass of campaigning—an electorate who voted strictly along party lines. I saw the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of friends dashed as they lost election after election. I saw authentic and honest people of great integrity have their characters attacked and careers maligned by some of the most loathsome people I'd ever encountered in my life.

Those who were able to retain their elected positions did so at great expense. I vowed never to return to politics, having realized how disenfranchised and demoralized I had become with the process and the people involved in it. I was giving up on everything else; it only made sense to give up on one of the greatest of my passions, too.

Over the ensuing decade I spent more than four years total in hospitals, continuing the healing process: when I was in the depths of despair, when I was homeless, when I was not able to get proper treatment for my double-depression due to myriad reasons, when the struggle was real...

I found myself on the precipice of a platform waiting for an express train going fast enough to put an infinite end to the sinewy suffering suffocating the atomized vapour of life from my very essence of being. It was a form of positive energy—friendship—that rescued me and brought me back into the folds of life, of mother earth, of the healing and nurturing energies of #love.

Radiant in positive energy, I began to heal beyond the physical. While I'm not fully healed—and never will be—I now can at least (on some days) relish in the joy of life, the hearth of humanity, the dreams of actualized living. I feel that positive energy flow through me. What's more, I once again can feel positive energy emanating from me, perhaps moreso than I ever had.

Toward the end of that painful decade, I slowly began emerging from my "waking coma" and set foot into my community once again. At a pace that would make a snail seem like a Ferrari, I  resumed my role as an activist, often at the behest of friends. My activism was conducted mostly online, although I did venture out every now and then.

Chapter IV - Bern, Baby, Bern

While I've followed the careers of a few elected officials such as Senators Sanders and Warren, I'd managed to steer relatively clear of politics and keep my vow never to return. I of course continued to vote in every election and the upcoming 2016 presidential election was, in my mind, to be no different. As I've done for quite some time, I figured I would vote for a third-party candidate, voting my conscience instead of the "lesser of two evils."

I remained vigilant not to return to politics, having seen the past three presidential elections deteriorate further down a superhighway of increasingly amoral political machinations.

And then this grumpy, old curmudgeonly grandfather-like person announced he was going to run against the pre-ordained Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. I'd first heard about him on May 12, 1995 after reports in various Internet usergroups of an essentially unknown lone cowboy of a representative from the State of Vermont did the unthinkable: he challenged a fellow member of the House, specifically to defend LGBTQ individuals:

And there he was, standing up on the floor of the House, chastising a fellow member for his slur against our LGBTQ community. Again, this was a time when most Democrats did not support our struggle for equality. In my thinking, the fact that he was an independent made him better than being a Democrat but not quite as good as being a Republican.

I've previously written about how social media transformed my life and helped me in ways unimagined, especially after my accident that left me a broken, metaphysically fractured equation in a decompiling tree graph of linear algebraic branches searching for its operand: in a word, it's connected me with even more positive energy—friends I otherwise never would have met nor encountered.

Each step I take throughout my continuous recovery brings with it more positive energy, more friends. I've experienced the amazeballs wonderfulness of truly connecting with people on a submolecular, subquantum level, in radiating the positive energies throughout our universe.

Last September, I followed all of this wonderfully positive energy to a new-found source: Bernie Sanders. I threw my support behind his candidacy, disavowing the hopelessness, despair, and alienation I'd felt in my previous political dealings. I haven't been disappointed since, as I continue to bring positivity, hope, love, and light into my life.

Chapter V - It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

It was one such new friend, MonsieurKagen Aurencz Zethmayr‎, who fashioned the following epistle over the weekend when I was at the very verge of fickleness in a déjà vu denouement of escapism to yet another precipice panged with ancient ties to some form of transient dark matter. He created a massive infusion of positive energies into what is being portrayed by all media accounts as a crushing, crumbling collapse of the political revolution:
Okay, hardcore mental guerrilla here... Nevada isn't just merely one battle in this war, but an unfinished chain of events. The stronger and more efficiently we pull together for Bernie Sanders and the principles which have brought us all together, the better our chances - far better than a coin toss or a drawing of cards - that unpledged delegates will sense the strength of our Sanderstorm and join with us. The winds are in motion, and it is our task to spread them into every corner, no matter how small the deed or interaction, and keep our energies positive and firm.

Resist the gaslighting - and if you don't know what the term means, look it up, 'cause it's pretty damn relevant. Every form of mental and emotional manipulation is being thrown our way,
plus obstructionism - and caucuses show this at its very worst. We fight the good fight, and keep fighting for the rest of the primary process. Our ability and our voice as voting citizens does not lapse between our own states' primary dates and the general election. Every one of us is needed to keep on keeping on, to fight with honour, and to strengthen the resolution of those who have yet to vote.

We have truth and integrity on our side....the opposition has a corrupt campaign machinery that runs on cognitive dissonance, a cult of personality without principle. Focus on our values as responsible, articulate, politically-engaged citizens who don't need parties to define us to ourselves, and truth itself will be our light - and cannot be extinguished once it's lit.

Good fight - recover balance - strive again. We're all in this together.

‪#‎VoteTogether‬ ‪#‎AmericaTogether‬ ‪#‎WeAreBernie‬ ‪#‎FeelTheBern‬
The positive energy emanating from Bernie has a name: #hope. There is hope, when we stay together. There is hope, when we relay the positive energy that exists between and among us. There is hope, when we radiate our hopes to the world, when we reflect and grow the hope that Bernie started with this political revolution.

And I know this to be true from a deep level of personal experience. It was hope that brought me out of a living grave and back into fighting for a political revolution. And that's something the opposition doesn't have, as has been most clearly evidenced by their latest tactics.

It is with this hope that—finally—I am able to answer the agonizing question Simon Le Bon poses. One cannot read or listen to the poetic justice of lyrical cacophony as the establishment is falling apart at the seams and question who—or perhaps what—is needed and missing from their campaigns: the #HOPE that Bernie's political revolution is bringing to tens of millions of people around our great nation.

As Le Bon so eloquently cries out in his seductively haunting, alluringly melancholic voice:

Who do you need? (We need Bernie, for the love and hope he give us)
Who do you love? (We love Bernie for what he represents and stands up for)
When you come undone. (Bernie's political revolution will be the undoing of the establishment)

Chapter VI - Onward and Upward

For you see, when we stand together, there truly is nothing that we cannot do. And when we do stand together, things begin to look differently than the narratives the establishment is attempting to force-feed down our throats.

As someone who had lost all confidence in the political system, Bernie inspired me with so much hope that I changed my political party affiliation for the very first time in my life, just so I could vote for him in the upcoming primary election. I'm not the only person he has inspired to do this. Bernie draws support from across the political spectrum and is providing hope to hundreds of thousands of supporters. He is the leader we need for our time, who will bring about the political revolution to return our nation to a democratic form of government.

It is Bernie's hope that we carry forward, bringing people together. This is the political revolution. Instead of the same-old, same-old corrupt political methodologies, #hope is Bernie's new way that fuels the political revolution. Hope is why we who #FeelTheBern know in our heart of hearts that Bernie will lead the #UsNotMe political revolution. Hope is why we know that Senator Bernie Sanders will become the 45th president of these great United States of America!

In the immortal words of Killer Mike,
Stay encouraged, stay invigorated, stay bold, stay confronting bullshit at every turn. Make sure that wherever you go, you take the name, the ideas, the philosophy, and the ideology of Bernie Sanders there and you make sure when you leave, they are on fire because they have felt the Bern!

Disclaimer: I am an active supporter of Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign.