And so I choose…

From the start, I knew that I would be part of history; that no matter what happened, for years to come this convention in Philadelphia would be talked about as a seminal moment in our nation’s history.  I brought home souvenirs for my boys and for my someday grandchildren and theirs as well.  I want them to do reports at school and bring in artifacts and tell their friends and teachers, “MY mother did this–she was there and she fought for me.”  I want them to read about it in their history books and to know that the world that they have inherited is a better place because I went to Philadelphia and I tried.  And I wasn’t alone.  For four days in a sweltering Philadelphia summer in 2016, 1,893 delegates elected to vote for Senator Bernie Sanders, entered the lion’s den of Democratic politics and fought for a better world and a better future.  And when it was over, we were exhausted, disappointed, angry, and sickened by a system so corrupt that it could not even acknowledge that it had been caught but instead demanded a lock-step unity that a scant few of us could embrace.  The history books will focus on the politics and the fight, but they will never be able to capture the fullness of my journey and what I experienced. It was so much more than political.  I want my children and grandchildren and theirs to know the truth of my experience in Philadelphia…

And so I choose to remember the love.

Ours is a movement driven by love, love for the planet, love for our fellow man, love for each other.  We embraced and celebrated truth, justice, mercy, and love, and we came together to push for a world that could live or might live closer to those ideals.   We are a nation that fetishizes youth, but it was the wisdom of a 74 year-old Senator with a thick Brooklyn accent who lead a campaign larger than all of us that was predicated on one simple command:  Love one another.

And so I choose to remember the love.

That love started poking into my consciousness with the first GoFundMe donations.  Motivated to make their voices heard and their votes count, people GAVE ME MONEY to help me get to Philadelphia.  It is easy to give money to a cause, it is much harder to receive it.  How can I not be humbled and nourished  and overwhelmed by comments like these:  

     “Make us proud!”

     “Don’t have much–but Bern, baby Bern!!!” (This, with a $5.00 donation–one that               brought tears to my eyes.)

     “Please go and vote for Bernie on my behalf.”

     “I thank you for your dedication and compassion to the human condition and the Bernie      Sanders people revolution. You were there for us that had to watch on the sidelines. You      are so appreciated.”

Friends gave, but so did total strangers motivated only by the hope that my vote would be their voice. The folks at Adopt-A-Bernie-Delegate validated and promoted this effort and I have no idea which of my contributions were a result of their effort, but strangers–fellow Berniecrats–gave.  Imagine clicking on Michigan and scrolling down to find ME and somehow deciding to send me money.  I am both grateful and gobsmacked that there are such generous people on this planet.  Feeling like Sally Field…they chose me.

And so I choose to remember the love.

(This is the thank you video sent out by the wonderful folks at Adopt A Bernie Delegate–I send my thanks to them!)

I knew just a few of my fellow Michigan delegates before arriving in Philadelphia.  More of us had conversed through posts on our private Facebook pages and Slack groups, but meeting them face to face felt less like a first encounter and more like a family reunion. There were hugs and pep talks and a camaraderie achieved only through ordeal by fire.  We took care of each other in the intense heat on the streets, as well as in the Wells Fargo Center.  We processed our emotions and plotted our plans, and in each other we found strength. These Michiganders will be coming home to continue the fight.  Some will continue as activists and some are already running for office.  Each of us will make a way in the new progressive organizations that are springing up out of Bernie’s campaign and in the Democratic Party.  The world already is a better place, for each of these beautiful souls is fighting for it to be so.  I am blessed to be in their company.

And so I choose to remember the love.

13738312_10153601651005997_4750870828456925711_o
With just a few of my Bernie delegate family. Love them all.

The streets of Philadelphia were filled with protesters and activists, with signs, speeches and songs.  The Olympics in Rio are on tv as I type, and I now can imagine what it feels like to be an Olympian, for walking through the streets of Philadelphia, that’s how the delegates were treated. People cheered for us and thanked us, and urged us to vote for them for Bernie.  They cleared the path as we walked through and celebrated the job we had been elected to do.  It was intoxicating, uplifting and healing.  And more than anything, it was hopeful.   The media covered the activists as if they were on the brink of burning down the city–and the media undoubtedly hoped that they were. NOTHING could be further from the truth.

And so I choose to remember the love.

The heat was unbearable, especially on the first day, and it was on that day that the buses ran late and many of us ended up waiting outside at midday waiting for transportation from the Philadelphia Convention Center to the Wells Fargo Center.  The next day, Bruce, my new friend and fellow delegate, and I decided to skip the buses and take the subway instead.  We were celebrated as we walked past the protests in front of City Hall, and when we asked directions to the subway we were engulfed in a kind of group hug that escorted us to the subway steps.  The subway was cooler than the street and we were grateful to sit down.  Thus began the most magical subway ride of my life.  We sat with Bernie supporters, two friends who had traveled from Illinois and Indiana to take part in the moment.  They were thrilled to be sitting next to actual delegates and told us how much our votes for Bernie meant to them.  Through us, their voices would be heard and they encouraged us to stay strong.  At that point, none of us realized that our votes had actually been cast that morning at breakfast, and we all still held out a glimmer of hope that the “vote” that evening would be in Bernie’s, in our, favor.  They were excited and proud and hopeful.  “Please vote for us: vote for Bernie!”  At the second to last stop anyone who wasn’t credentialed had to leave the subway.  As we stood to let our seatmates exit, both women hugged me and Bruce.  Imagine–total strangers, now friends, hugging on the subway.  Only a movement based on love can create that kind of moment.  Bruce likes to tell how the 2 young ladies with Clinton credentials stood in front of us during the ride and never so much as smiled.  When the seats became available next to us, these young ladies chose instead to remain standing.  Their loss. As the Bernie protesters left the train and the delegates behind on it, they started chanting “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” in the subway station.  We pulled away to face the roll call with the chants of the subway Berners echoing in our hearts.

And so I choose to remember the love.

2016-07-28 20.40.35
Bruce and me

The convention was a no-holds barred star-studded spectacular, but the glamour still failed to impress.  It was such a display of excess and privilege that I literally felt sick by the final day.  There was, however, one exception, one politician who stole my heart:  Mayor Karen Weaver of Flint, Michigan. The first time I saw her was on the first day at the Philadelphia Convention Center.  I walked right up to her like a schoolgirl with a Tiger Beat crush, to tell her that my heart was broken by what had been done to her city, and to tell her that there were people all over Michigan who cared and wanted to help and would stand with her and her city for the long haul.  I regretted not taking a picture, but when I saw her again late night back at the hotel, I got not only a picture but a hug. This is a beautiful woman, a true warrior and inspiration.  A hero.

And so I choose to remember the love.

2016-07-27 00.49.47
Mayor Karen Weaver of Flint, MI and me.

The moment of the actual convention that will stay with me long after the balloons have popped, was Bernie’s brother casting his vote.  I was sitting just below and to the left of the Delegates Abroad group.  I cried at the time and I cry every time see the video.  To have been so close to such love, grace, and humility…

And so I choose to remember the love.

2016-07-26 17.41.11
Larry Sanders from the Michigan Delegation–I still cry.

One of my favorite people on the planet is Joey Wilson of the Wayne-Westland for Bernie group.  He embraced this movement with a passion and wide-eyed wonder matched by few.  And he went to Philadelphia.  And he adopted me.  I felt like I was Joey’s personal delegate, and his enthusiasm and support brought me joy and kept me grounded on those hot and difficult days.  We had exchanged phone numbers and were able to keep in touch–me on the inside and him on the outside–throughout the week.  And he was on the outside in the brutal heat, protesting and participating in every march and rally.  I don’t know how he did it day after day, but when Bill and I caught up with him on Wednesday, he was as joyful and excited to be out in the midst of the protests as he had been back at the Westland Bowl the week before.  We joined him for a bit and he tried to get me up on the stage to speak as other delegates had been doing. There really wasn’t time but oh!–how his enthusiasm nourished me and gave me a shot of strength to go back to the face another night.  Joey asked me if the protesters were making a difference, if the delegates knew they were out there sending support and strength–YES!!!! And it made all the difference.

And so I choose to remember the love.

2016-07-27 15.33.01
Bill and I caught up with Joey at one of the protests.

And then there’s Bill.  As honored as I was to be elected, as passionate as I feel about Bernie’s campaign, as excited as I was to go to the convention, I still was anxious, very anxious, about going.  I wanted Bill to come with me to share the experience, but also because I knew that he would take care of me–and so he did.  He made sure I got where I needed to be, had the information I needed to have, and he took care of me when I got back to the hotel.  There was no way I could have anticipated the physical and emotional toll this convention would take on me.  The outrage and anger we felt at the Wikileaks revelations, the unbelievable arrogance of the DNC and Clinton campaign putting on this extravaganza and demanding “unity” when all we felt was disgust, days that went from 7 a.m. to well after midnight, and the heat, my God, the heat–left me wrecked.  Walking miles and then sitting for hours cramped in too-small stadium seats left my knees, ankles and feet swollen beyond recognition, and I came back to the hotel near tears and exhausted to find that Bill had a bath drawn and waiting for me.  He rubbed my feet and made sure I was hydrated and fed, and he held me when I cried.  He drove us there and back 10 hours each way, and on the day after we got home, he put me to bed for a day of recovery.  I know that I could have made it without him, but I am so grateful that I didn’t have to.

And so I choose to remember the love.

2016-07-24 20.06.20
Bill and me at the opening reception on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

This movement isn’t over; in fact, it has just begun.  This convention is just a moment on the journey and make no mistake, it was a difficult moment.  Reams of paper, miles of film, and endless lines of code will dissect this 2016 Democratic National Convention for years to come, but none of them will capture the honesty and humility, the warmth and wonder of what it was like to participate as a delegate.  I want my children and grandchildren and theirs to know that their mother fought for them, for their future.  But I also want them to know that the fight wasn’t just about anger and disappointment and deceit.  It was so much bigger than that, so much more…

And so I choose to remember the love.  

birdie-sanders-sticker

Philly bound…

We leave today and I vacillate between unbelievably excited and unbelievably anxious.  The excited part is easy: I am going to be living and breathing and participating in history.  No matter what happens, my children, their children and theirs beyond will be able to say that I was there and I was fighting for them.  Fighting–it ain’t over yet.

And that’s the anxiety part–it can’t be over yet.  The Wikileaks documents just came out and my God, there was collusion.  The process was rigged from the start.  No integrity, no transparency, just the court jesters deciding who will be the queen.  The joke, however, is on them.  There is no way Bernie supporters will support her, no way anyone with any kind of integrity will support her.  The best they’ve got cannot beat the orange goo the Republicans call their own.  Ha!

If I thought the Republican convention was a shitshow (true confession:  I couldn’t watch it was so disgusting), then the DNC is likely to rival it in it’s own sordid way.  There are plots and plans aplenty, people in every online delegate group laying out strategies for how to derail the coronation.  It’s overwhelming and exhausting.  Facebook, Twitter, Slack, Messenger, Reddit…I have to turn it off.

Yet I fear that I’ll be out of the loop or miss vital information or fail to do the one true thing that will ensure Bernie’s nomination, so I turn it off, then turn it on, then turn it off, then turn it on…  I’m tuning out the chatter and trying to listen to just a few trusted sources:  Bernie’s campaign, the MDP for logistics, official DNC communication–again about logistics, TYT, adoptaberniedelegate.com (great newsletters and support), Michelle and Lena.  There are just too many people making too much noise and worrying about minutiae and howling at the moon.

My strategy in Philly is to be inside the party and talk with people.  Yes, I’m going to the welcome receptions. Why do we hold marches and protests and submit petitions?  To be heard, to get a seat at the table.  Well, we have a seat at the table and I’ve been elected to sit there and that is what I’m going to do.  We can’t have change if we don’t talk to people and if there’s one thing I do well, it’s talk.  Others will have to march.

So there are clothes strewn all over my bed; I’m trying to figure out my tablet, phone and computer capabilities; I’ve got 3 yoga mats packed for the morning yoga and I am going to take advantage of it to try to keep sane, and I hope to God I’ve got the right shoes–because it’s all about having the right shoes.

Oh, and I’m running for the School Board and as a write-in candidate for precinct delegate and all of that paperwork has to be done TODAY to make the filing deadline.  When I get back, I get to run my own campaign and I am so excited because I am DOING what Bernie asked us to do–get involved. I’m also terrified of putting myself out there, but here’s the thing–it was the Canton Dems who reached out to me to ask me to run and they have been incredible. They are going to coach me and support me and they have made it safe for me to do this.  Good people and we have to come home and work together for the state–but I just cannot bring myself to support Hillary.  Lately on my Facebook Memories old posts–as early as 2012 have me posting about Bernie and wishing he would run for President.  I’m faithful, if nothing else.

Time now to print out the DNC Platform so that I’m ready for the conversation.

Bernie 2016! And we’re heading to Philly.

It’s a slow Bern…

Bernie just held a conference call with all of his delegates and here’s my takeaway:  The Revolution isn’t over; it’s a Slow Bern and we are only just beginning the fight.

There really wasn’t anything surprising in the beginning.  Bernie thanked all of his supporters and reminded us that we are part of a unique moment in history.  He listed some of the truly incredible accomplishments of this last year.  We won about 13 million votes, 22 states and 1,900 pledged delegates, and we did it after the mainstream media and talking heads wrote Bernie and his supporters off as fringe.  We forced a discussion in the media and political circles about issues that really matter such as income inequality, climate change, the criminal justice system, the lack of affordable health care, the cost of college tuition, and so much more.  We created the most progressive platform that the Democratic Party has ever created (though I still don’t think it went far enough!)…and we did it with grassroots efforts and contributions from every day working people.  We did that–WE DID THAT–and so much more.

Where do we go?  We keep moving forward.  We elect progressive candidates at every level of government from the school board to the Governor’s mansion and we keep on electing them.  We develop a 50 state strategy to support progressive candidates. Bernie is going to announce organizations that he is starting to keep this movement and momentum going.  

The delegates have a key role to play in Philadelphia.  Bernie will speak, there will be a roll call vote so that every one of the delegates’ voices is heard; the Rules will be challenged to create a more fair and open Democratic Party.  It’s time to challenge the superdelegate system, the closed primaries, and the politician’s dependence on billionaires and corporations. I remain committed to my job as a pledged delegate for Bernie and will be voting for Bernie in Philadelphia as planned!

The goal, the end game, my friends, is no less than the transformation of the Democratic Party and the entire nation!  We are transforming the way politics is done in this country and in so doing changing the world!  

Yesterday, last night, I was disheartened by the thought of Bernie endorsing HRC, but now I am filled with hope. Yes, I wish Bernie had won, and I have seen all the posts about lawsuits and strategies and I admit a part of me still hopes…until that happens I take heart in knowing that we are being inspired and guided by a visionary.  Bernie has said from the start that this election wasn’t about him; this election is about transforming US, ordinary citizens, into so much more than we have been.  We are alive and awake and energized to do the work that we must do to create the country we deserve. It’s not a violent revolution; it’s a Slow Berning one.

#Bernie2016  #SlowBern

Standing strong…

Post #3 has been swirling in my head for a week; three times I’ve started and three times I’ve failed to get my thoughts together.

It’s been a rough week.  I will not comment on HRC’s emails, or the two black men killed by police, or the 5 police officers killed by a sniper.  My heart is broken and the words from Hamilton are singing in my head.  The World Turned Upside Down, The World Turned Upside Down…what have we come to?

When I was elected a delegate for Bernie I really did not comprehend what an incredible honor this charge is.  All week, as the world turned upside down, I kept telling myself that there are good people in the world, that good will triumph over evil, and that Bernie’s campaign MATTERS.  Whether he wins the nomination or not (and I’m still praying that he will!), what we have accomplished over the last year MATTERS, and the ripple effects of this movement will carry on long after I exhaust my Bernie t-shirts and buttons.  We have campaigned for a man who advocates peace and justice and love and respect for all living beings as well as our precious mother Earth–and that MATTERS.  Issues that wouldn’t have seen the light of day and voices that wouldn’t have been given a platform, became part of our national dialogue and consciousness because of Bernie–and that MATTERS.

This week I received a telephone call from a fellow delegate from Michigan’s 11th Congressional District.  She is pledged to HRC and was calling to encourage me to attend a “unity” event.  She was warm and friendly and delightful to speak with, and I appreciated her outreach.

But then she asked me, “What do you think of the Bernie supporters who say they won’t support Hillary?”

Danger, Patty Mullen!.  As a pledged delegate I can be de-credentialed if I speak out against the Democratic Party or appear to support another candidate.  There are rumors–I repeat, rumors–that the HRC camp is trying to flip Bernie delegates.  I proceeded with caution.

“I don’t speak for other Bernie supporters, only for myself and, at the convention, for the people who elected me.  My job is to vote for Bernie and that is what I am going to do.  I am not projecting beyond July and will not comment on November.  I can tell you, however, that no matter what happens in Philadelphia, I will be coming home to work with other Democrats to get rid of our terrible governor and win the state legislature.”

“Oh my God! I am so tired of losing! I’ve been fighting for so long and we HAVE to win to fix Michigan.” She almost wept. Wow.

Three things happened there.   First, I responded to a charged question with an answer that is truthful and true to my position as a Bernie supporter and delegate.  Second, I realized that my HRC delegate counterpart is NOT the enemy.  

See what I did there?  I grew up a little. Good for me.

This woman and all of her friends who have been part of the Democratic Party for years and years have been in the trenches fighting for good schools, for women’s rights, for civil rights, for sane gun legislation, for the environment and for a host of other issues that I support–and they’ve been doing it all this time WITHOUT ME.  I will have a lot to learn from her.

The official invitation for a Unity cocktail party came from the Michigan Democratic Party later in the week and, but for a wedding that we have to attend, I would be there.  I’m ready to make some new friends and allies–there is work to be done back home in Michigan after Philadelphia.

The third thing that happened is more profound: the full weight of my election hit me.  I was ELECTED to represent Bernie’s supporters at the convention.  I am CHARGED to make their voices heard.  It is not MY vote that will be cast–it is THEIRS, and I cannot, I will not, betray that trust.  Asked if I would support HRC down the road, I felt a physical sensation as if the 45, 054 people of Michigan’s 11th Congressional District who voted for Bernie were holding me and I them.  We are standing strong for Bernie and voting for him in Philadelphia.

I have no doubt that I will be asked the “who are you going to support in November” question again, and delegates need to be prepared to answer it truthfully and smartly. I’m ready to answer AND I’m ready to vote.