When this election first kicked off and I first started looking into the nominees, I was for Hillary.
Yes, I’ll admit it.
As a self-proclaimed feminist, and a strong advocate of female power, I blindly piggybacked off of the opinions of others without first doing research on my own. I saw everyone celebrating her decision to run, so I celebrated too. I decided I wanted Hillary Clinton to be the president of the United States, solely because she was a woman.
That lasted all of 2 days.
Never being one to wholeheartedly commit to something without finding out what exactly I was committing to, I decided to research more, looking into her politics and her views. I quickly found myself wholly confused over her beliefs. Was she for gay rights or against them? Was she for mass incarceration or against it? The more I tried to learn about her, the more confused I got. Everything she said conflicted something else she had previously said, and I immediately decided that she could not be trusted.
For a while, I didn’t know what to do about this cognitive dissonance I felt. I wanted to support a woman, but not one who didn’t agree with my beliefs. And what would I do if I didn’t support Hillary? Who would I vote for? Was I going to be stuck voting for someone when I didn’t even know what they believed in?
Until one day, while casually scrolling through Tumblr, I found you.
I learned a very long time ago not to get all of my information from Tumblr, so I buckled down, went on Google and did some real research. I found that most of your views were almost identical to my own. Your passion for equality all around was something that pulled me in immediately. I found that some of the things you found most important were things I myself found important. I found myself supporting you like many others on the internet. Online, it seemed as though you had a huge following, but outside the little bubble of the World Wide Web, many people had no idea who you were. I even talked to my parents about you, they wrote you off because they didn’t know your name like they knew “Clinton” or “Trump”. They said you had no chance.
As did many others. But you didn’t care.
I found myself watching as you gained a following, gained support from adults and teens alike, gained momentum over a long period of time. I watched people write you off for being a “socialist”, for being too “unrealistic”, and even for being too old (seriously, that’s what it came down to.). I watched as news outlets gave all the publicity to Clinton and Trump, writing you off and not giving you the attention you deserve.
Throughout all of that, you never gave up.
For almost a whole year, I watched you carefully, knowing that so many politicians are liars with secret agendas. Observing you, I knew you weren’t one of them. Your passion for what you believed in always shined through when you were talking, anyone watching you speak could feel the genuineness of your rhetoric, whether or not they wanted to. I watched you speak with so much care and concern for others, all the while being so firm and strong. It was truly admirable.
Eventually, it came my time to vote. My first time ever voting, and I voted for you. A decision I was proud to make.
You lost in my state. New York. After that, if news outlets weren’t telling you to drop out before, they sure as hell were saying it now. But you kept going, you didn’t let them get to you. You continued to speak your truth, and you never changed your beliefs for the sake of being liked or for gaining more attention. As the primaries went further and further along, more and more people were telling you to give up, writing you off, and saying you didn’t have the numbers. But you were determined. You were going to keep going until you no longer could.
Today, that day finally came.
As the numbers from the primaries started rolling in, the news outlets started announcing it: Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee. To say I’m heartbroken would be an understatement.
Bernie, I feel like I’ve somehow let you down. Though I cast my vote and I did my part, I feel like there was something more I could have done to give you the platform you needed to make the changes you’re so passionate about.
But you had a great run.
Throughout the past year, you’ve taught me and so many others so much about perseverance, about determination, about believing in yourself and staying true to what you believe in. You may not be President of the United States, but you’ve had an impact on a whole generation of people who got to watch this election unfold and witnessed an amazing man try and change the world. You let so many young people know it’s okay to be firm in your beliefs, no matter who happens to be against them.
I know you may not have been able to make a change in the way you wanted to, but I hope you always realize how many lives you’ve changed just by being bold enough to get up there and be yourself.
I hope you never feel like you’ve lost. You’ve won the hearts of so many people.
And maybe we let you down, or maybe we just weren’t strong enough to go against the woman whose name is known across the country.
But know one thing:
We will never forget you, Bernie Sanders.