The Fledgling Citizen Becomes a Delegate
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because sometimes it’s OK to talk to strangers.
By Nick Fouriezos
In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?”
Bernie Sanders delegate from Northfield, Minnesota
It’s a pretty hot and humid day. And pretty crazy. We had our Minnesota delegation meeting at our hotel, 40 minutes outside Philadelphia. There was this mandatory delegation meeting with Bernie Sanders, where he gave his typical speech, worked everyone up and then encouraged people to support Hillary Clinton in the general election. Some people were slightly upset, but they weren’t totally booing him.
We couldn’t find buses coming here for a long time. When we finally did, the line was horribly long; we waited an hour and a half to get into the Wells Fargo Center. People are more friendly at the convention than I expected — I try to be friendly to everyone, including Hillary delegates.
It was a little upsetting when the convention started. You could tell the Democratic National Committee could have tried harder to be impartial. The opening invocation, it was a prayer, but it became a political pitch for Clinton. The nature of that is disrespectful.
The concern of us Sanders delegates needs to be voiced. But we also need to chill out and get things done.
People started booing and chanting “Bernie!” during the prayer. I sat right in front of the Hillary delegation, which started chanting her name, so I was in the middle of two different chants. It was kind of overwhelming, and if anything, it was frustrating — both the invocation and the delegates. I’m a lead delegate working to relay messages between the campaign and delegations, and I got this text basically telling us to tell people not to protest. I totally get why people were upset. The rhetoric is so pro-Hillary. The concern of us Sanders delegates needs to be voiced. But we also need to chill out and get things done.
I gained my U.S. citizenship in March — right in time to participate fully in this democratic process. I grew up in China, where I experienced something like borderline second- and third-world poverty. We had to figure out how to afford elementary school. Putting food on the table was difficult. The floor was dirt. We couldn’t drink water straight out of the faucet — we had to boil it — and there was no bathroom. We had to use the public restrooms and showers, find other ways to wash ourselves. That was the norm in my neighborhood, in Wuhan.
When I moved to the U.S. at age 10, I noticed that the scale of poor people here and in China was not the same. So I got interested in how government structures affect living conditions. People might be surprised that I’m a Bernie Sanders supporter, but the funny thing is that people often think China is communist. But after the end of the decommodification of almost everything in the ’80s, it’s really been more of an authoritarian, libertarian country. It’s extremely capitalist without social safety nets. Which, for me, is the worst of both worlds.
Also, Sanders is not a true socialist — just putting that out there.
I’m still going to call out all Hillary’s faults. I didn’t back her because I didn’t find her to be appealing in many respects. But I don’t think anyone can deny she’s more progressive than Donald Trump. And now that it’s narrowed down to two, I’d rather have the better candidate. But we do need to hold Hillary accountable. She helped draft the Trans-Pacific Partnership, then went against it, then picked a VP that backs the TPP. It’s breaking trust with the voters.
Sanders has instilled a social consciousness for more progressive politics. A new organization by the Sanders campaign, Our Revolution, is one of the orgs to continue this movement. In Minnesota, we want to start our own progressive association; there are definitely people taking practical efforts to continue the movement. More than anything, the Bernie movement has influenced our society at large.
At least I hope it has.