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

Anxiety eve…

Yoga did not help.  Downward dog–is he going to endorse?  Up dog–no way. We’ve worked so hard and the convention is in 2 weeks.  Down dog–but what about this meeting tomorrow?  Cat and cow–yes and no.  What the hell is going on?  No, I am not feeling the namaste tonight.

Rumors are flying; speculation is rampant and all anybody knows for sure is that we know nothing for sure.  Over the weekend the platform committee met and the end was a disaster.  My fellow Michigander, Lena Thompson, posted a Facebook Live rant to the delegation late on Saturday night(Lena’s post).  She both confused and frightened me.  She was angry, confused, felt betrayed and exhausted.  What the hell happened?  I saw the full video (“Unity Amendment” video) the next day:  the HRC camp had substituted language into the final amendment that pretty much declared HRC not just the nominee but the president.  It went on to thank Senator Sanders and his supporters for their tremendous effort.  What. The…F?

Today rumors are flying and all we know is that Bernie and HRC will be appearing together tomorrow at a rally in New Hampshire.  Please God, let him not endorse.  If he does, what was all this for?

Screenshot 2016-07-11 20.10.05

I will be FURIOUS if Bernie endorses HRC and doesn’t take this all the way to the convention.  I–WE–have spent countless hours and countless dollars to take it this far and it better not be over now.  Why the hell should any of us waste our time and money going to Philadelphia if he endorses her?  I feel sick and anxious and angry and I am praying that it will not be true.

And what about the people who elected me?  As far as I’m concerned I’m still pledged and it still is my job to go to the convention and VOTE FOR BERNIE SANDERS and I have every intention of doing that.  If he does endorse, I still will do it, but it will be with a heavy heart.  How many more betrayals can we stand?

I stand with Bernie; please God, let him still stand with me.

Bernie Sanders Knows What He’s Doing and Is Doing It Quite Well

Exactly!

34justice

According to Politico, House Democrats booed Bernie Sanders during a closed-door meeting on Wednesday, July 6.  They would like him to officially end his presidential campaign and were frustrated that, in response to calls to endorse Hillary Clinton, he stated that his goal “is to transform America,” not just “to win elections.”  This reaction was unsurprising; as Politico noted, “House Democrats overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton during the presidential primary fight,” and the idea that winning elections might be a means rather than an end “plays better on the campaign trail than in front of a roomful of elected officials.”  Even one of Sanders’ few congressional supporters during the primary, Raul Grijalva, has argued that a Sanders endorsement of Clinton has “got to happen prior to the [Democratic] convention.”

What doesn’t make any sense at all, however, is the argument many of Sanders’ detractors have been advancing for quite some…

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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.

 

The election of me…

The call went out in the early Spring:  Bernie needs people to register with the Democratic Party of Michigan and also to register to run for election as a delegate to the national convention this summer in Philadelphia.  It costs $10 to join the party and paperwork to run for delegate must be received by the MDP at least 30 days before the Congressional District meetings that would be held on May 21.  And that was it–that was all I knew about becoming a delegate to the Presidential convention.  My ignorance, however, did not stop me from sending in my $10 and my delegate application.  For good measure, I had Bill fill out the same and sent his in as well.  I didn’t think too much more about it…

…until the week before May 21.  Sometime that week, I got a phone call from Michelle, who has been magnificent in her efforts to coordinate Southeast Michigan for Bernie.  (More about how Michelle and I met in another post).  A very rough transcript of our conversation goes like this:

“Patty, Labor is putting together a slate for the upcoming delegate election, and for the first time in history, the UAW is going to put someone who is not a union member on the slate. There are some Bernie supporters high up in Labor as well as the MDP and they want to be sure they have strong a Bernie delegates on their slate, someone they can count on to stay strong for Bernie at the convention.”

“Huh?” Because I’m so articulate in these situations.

“They don’t have a union member for the female Bernie slot in the 11th District and they asked the campaign for a recommendation.  We recommended you.”

“Huh?” Again, so articulate.

“Are you willing to be on the Labor slate for the delegate election next Saturday?”

“Oh-kay?”

“I’m so glad you said yes–because we already told them that you would do it and you’re on the Labor slate.”  

And there you have it.  For the first time in history, Labor in Michigan is going to run non-union members on their slates for pledged delegate positions for the Democratic Presidential Primary–and that person in the 11th district is me.  I do support Labor’s positions and when I had the brief opportunity joined the American Federation of Teachers, but what had I gotten into?

Michelle coached me to be prepared to hand out some sort of flyer introducing myself to the district members.  She told us to get there early and spend time “campaigning” during the meet and greet.  I had no idea how I would pull this off or what was appropriate, but the morning of the election I got up early and prepared a flyer to hand out at the District meeting:

Bill did not prepare a flyer as he was less invested in this than I, and on the morning of May 21, 2016, we headed up to Commerce Township for the Michigan Democratic Party Eleventh Congressional District meeting.

The meeting was held at the Michigan Education Association offices and thank goodness they had a sign out front as it is located just off of one of those terrible roundabouts and tricky to find.  We arrived as the staff and meeting volunteers were still setting up.  I know that everybody has seen the videos of the anger and disruption at the Nevada and New York meetings, but I want to be very clear that we have experienced nothing like that with the Michigan Democratic Party.  Everyone has been helpful and welcoming and enthusiastic about our participation.  Of course, Bernie won Michigan, and I think that was due in large part to how well Michigan ran their primary.  

The meeting was set to begin at 11:00 and we arrived around 9:30, so for a good hour and a half Bill and I circulated and introduced ourselves to the soon-to-be-voting members of the 11th District. Our friend Kelly–she of the glorious purple hair–also was a delegate candidate, but she hadn’t been briefed and was angry that there was a slate and that she didn’t know about the flyers.  I felt guilty and realized that it really does help to be supported by people on the inside.  Why I was the beneficiary of that, I didn’t know.  But Kelly is very cool and she hung out with us through the morning.  I can say, unequivocally, that I would have wholeheartedly supported her as the delegate.  She worked hard for Bernie all year and deserved to be a delegate as much as anyone. Unfortunately, there was only one female slot.

As I circulated around the room, I introduced myself as a candidate for the Bernie delegate position; Hillary supporters would just reply, “I’m for Hillary” which created an awkward moment, but I just decided to reply with, “Great.  Have a good morning then” and off I’d go to the next person, taking back my flyer from the HRC supporters who clearly had no use for it.

I was about ¾ of the way through the meet and greet when a man in a suit walked up to me and introduced himself:

“I’m Bill Black with Labor and I want to thank you for being on our slate.” Bill Black was on the slate along with a gentleman named Mike Whitty, and me.

“Thank you.  I’m honored to be chosen.  And which union are you with?”

“I work for Jimmy Hoffa.”  At which point my head exploded because, my God, Jimmy Hoffa. This man is a Teamster, and of course I know that today’s Jimmy Hoffa is James Hoffa, Jr., THE Jimmy Hoffa’s son, but he said “Jimmy Hoffa” and all I could think was, “Brendan, did you hear that?  He said Jimmy Hoffa?”  Brendan is my dear departed former husband who loved nothing more than a good conspiracy theory and was a student of Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance.  He was also a student of the Kennedy Assassination, Area 51 and televangelists.  I prayed he was watching from his perch somewhere in the galaxy where I am sure he has learned the answers to all of the aforementioned mysteries.

Then Teamster Bill turned and pointed his finger at my Bill and said, “I know you.”

“I used to be a hardcore Teamster,” says my Bill about a past that happened long before I met him.

“What local?”

“I was with Greg Nowak.”

“Local 1038? You were part of the strike.”

“Yes.”

And Teamster Bill turns, takes out his phone, and hands it to me. “Take our picture.” Then Teamster Bill puts his arm around my Bill and there I am–the Labor slate candidate, remember me?–taking their picture.  What in the world?

Teamster Bill takes back his phone and sends a quick text message with photo to Greg saying something along the lines of  “Look who I found after all these years at the 11th Congressional District Convention this fine Saturday morning,” and moments later, Greg, now the Teamster’s Detroit Council President, texts back something like, “I’ll be damned; tell Bill hello.”  Jesus–who is this man, my Bill?  “I’ll tell you later” says he.  Great.

At 11:00 the meeting was called to order and Pam Jackson was elected chair.  She’s a funny woman who lead with purpose as well as warmth.  She went over the rules and it was decided that the slates would be abolished; votes would be cast for individuals only.  I didn’t know what that would mean for me, but I wasn’t given much time to worry about it. The Hillary camp had more people there and so the Berners were invited to move into the smaller room next door for the election of delegates.  That was fine and fair, except that our room had no chairs or air and was too small.  One person called for our meeting to move out to the parking lot, but that didn’t go anywhere.  Teamster Bill stepped up as a volunteer chair, and the group voted him in to run the Bernie caucus.

The candidates’ names were listed on a poster on an easel and the names of the candidates who were not present were struck through. (James Hoffa was one of those not present and removed from the running).  My Bill took himself out of the running as he felt there were others more involved and qualified than he.  One gentleman demanded that all of the candidates declare their allegiance to the Democratic nominee–whoever that turned out to be–in November before votes were cast.  He was shouted down and I spoke out, “You had the opportunity to speak to all of the candidates before the vote; this is not the place for that and nobody here is obligated to make promises about November here in May. Our job is to elect delegates for July.”  He shrunk back against the wall.  The group decided that there would be no campaigning before the vote, but each candidate would be called on to identify himself or herself before the votes were cast.

In Michigan, delegates are apportioned according to the proportion of votes won by each candidate in the primary.  The delegates are further designated by gender and the MDP has an affirmative action plan to encourage minority and youth participation.  Michigan’s 11th Congressional District is as gerrymandered Republican as they come, so even though this was the Democratic Party convention, it was a pretty white meeting.  But the gender breakdown was interesting:  the 11th District would elect 6 delegates total, Hillary got 3, and Bernie got 3.  Hillary’s delegates would be 2 female and 1 male.  Bernie would get 2 male and 1 female.  I have no idea how this was determined, but there I was in the running for the 1 female Bernie slot.

Here’s where it gets confusing.  When we arrived and registered, each person was given a small paper-clipped set of 3 pre-cut pieces of colored index cards:  2 of a color, and one of another.  The 11th encompasses parts of 2 counties, Wayne and Oakland; Wayne County residents were given a colored set of cards of yellow and green; Oakland County residents were given a set of 2 different colors.  These colored cards were to allow for 2 votes for male delegates, and 1 vote for the female delegate for the Bernie caucus, and the opposite for the Hillary caucus..  In addition, the different counties had different color sets to allow for proportional voting.  Wayne County had 69 people present at the meeting; Oakland County had 59 people present.  If my notes are correct, that meant that the weighted votes would be Wayne County at 2.01%, and Oakland County votes counted as 1.93%. I have no idea who figured that out, but God bless ‘em for it.

The men went first.  After each man introduced himself–no campaigning!–we lined up to cast our votes.  Someone asked if we could cast both of our male ballots for one candidate and the answer–from whomever knew the answers–was yes.  There was a long table against the wall on the far side, and on it were small mesh baskets.  Each candidate had a basket and his name on an index card clothespined to it.  And so we filed by, each voter circling around the room dropping the ballots into the appropriate baskets as we passed.  If felt like a children’s game:  Ring around the Rosy  meets some kind of basket toss.  Is this how presidential politics is decided?  45 people in a room dropping pieces of colored notecards into wire mesh baskets?  Somehow I imagined something more dignified.

The votes were counted and the results were in:  Mike Whitty, a Bernie organizer from Oakland County was the first winner.  The second winner was Ethan Petzold–an 18 year old senior in high school from our very own Canton, Michigan!  Mike had been on the Labor slate with me and Teamster Bill, but Ethan, in addition to support from his Canton group, had brought his mother, his father, his grandmother and his aunt who clearly all had dumped their 2 male votes each into Ethan’s basket!  An 18 year old kid had bumped the Teamsters–and Bill Black was angry.  Ethan is a great kid and very deserving of the honor; he told me that he heard Teamster Bill swearing on the way out.  Good for Ethan and Mike!

Next up was the female vote and we went through the whole parade again.  I had a moment of thinking I’d give my vote to Kelly–she really deserves to go–but then decided to have faith in myself and vote my own way.  The wait was nerve-wracking and not because I was so invested in being a delegate.  It was nerve wracking because it really did feel like some kind of high school popularity contest and my God, shouldn’t it all be more IMPORTANT than that?  They called out the result:  there was a tie for first place.  Patricia Mullen and Ethel (whose last name I do not know) were tied with 13 votes each.  It was time to use the proportional weights and see if that broke the tie.  

The vote counters huddled together and we waited while they did their math magic.  Then the votes were announced and I had won by .2.  I’m from Wayne County; Ethel is from Oakland.  Wayne is weighted more heavily than Oakland and I had gotten more Wayne votes. I had just been elected the female delegate pledged for Senator Bernie Sanders to the National Democratic Party convention.  Wow.

But wait!  Someone challenged the result.  Hold on everybody, these results are not final.  The number huddlers re-huddled over the paper ballots, re-crunched the numbers and FINALLY turned back to the group to announce that yes, there had been an error, BUT, it only changed the final vote points of the 3rd place candidate.  Patricia Mullen remained the winner.  WOW!

There were hugs and congratulations and I-can’t-believe-its all around. Somebody took pictures of Mike, Ethan and me, and if I ever find out who I’ll be sure to get a copy.  The Hillary vote was still going on as there had been 17 candidates for the 2 female slots in that group.  We waited around thinking there might be some kind of information shared, but there wasn’t.  By the time the HRC delegates were declared, most of the Bernie folks had been long gone.  I congratulated my counterparts and Bill and I left.

Even though we didn’t vote slates, I told Bill that I thought being on the Labor slate helped me.  “Maybe a vote or two, but no, you did the work.  You worked for Bernie and were known; you had your flyer ready and got here and worked the room.  You deserve this.”  

“Thanks.  Now, tell me why that Teamster knows you.”

“I told you about the strike in the 80s; when the lawsuit finally settled, it was the largest single settlement in Teamster history.”

“And you were part of the strike and the union bosses knew who you were?”

“Yes.” And that was that.

So Labor for the first time in history chooses some random woman to be on their slate to be elected a delegate to the presidential convention; the actual Teamster gets bumped by a high school senior, but the random woman’s partner happens to be a hardcore Teamster that they actually know.  Life is strange–so is presidential politics..

 

In the beginning…

My mother was a news junkie.  Her day started with a cup of coffee, one Kent cigarette for the day left on the kitchen table by my Dad, and the daily newspaper read front to back.  Newsradio was on in the background and stayed on for the duration.  While other mothers accompanied their stay at home lives listening to music, or watching soap operas (her “stories” as my neighbor Joan called them), talk and game shows, my mother marked her day according to the top of the hour chimes, traffic and weather reports on the 8s, and sports updates at 15 and 45 past.  The television came on at dinner but not before, for she cooked and we ate in the company of local anchors.  My New York dinner mates are lost to memory–though I do remember that Chuck Scarborough broke newscaster protocol during the blizzard of ‘78 and wore a sweater–a sweater!–to anchor the evening news.  Wes and Monica (WSB Atlanta) had dinner at my house nightly and provided a clean segue to the highlight of Mom’s evening–ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.  Oh how Mom loved Peter–and when he closed the show, it was time for her to retire to the family room to read–Newsweek, of course.  Saturdays varied slightly, but Sunday, oh Sunday!, that holy day was devoted to the sacred text of The New York Times–cover to cover all day until the stopwatch started ticking and 60 Minutes began.  With Andy Rooney’s goodnight, Mom’s week was complete and she was ready to begin again on Monday morning. In her later years she was as devoted to Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann and (the absolutely adored) Rachel Maddow as she had been to dear Mr. Jennings, clinging to their nightly shows in a desperate effort at her normal in the face of oncoming dementia.  

The great fix for any news junkie is the Presidential election year and, like a cicada on a 4 year cycle, Mom came to life for it.  Here her complete cast of characters came together for her greatest show on earth and she never missed a night of a convention.  Her news heroes were in their glory and the spectacle and drama captivated her.  She marveled at the delegates on the floor, dressed in red, white and blue, wearing hats and buttons and waving signs and banners.  Who were they and how did they get so lucky as to be in the thick of those historic events? Some delegates got to speak with the reporters!  The delegates looked like ordinary people, but Mom, who never actually participated in a political event other than voting (and going to see President Nixon when he held a rally in my hometown, Eastchester, NY, in 1972 because he was the President and, even though she was a staunch Democrat, he was the President and we should go see him), was sure that those delegates knew somebody or something and somehow some magic had transported them and not her to the convention floor.  Who were those people?

I am one of those people and this is my story.  Mom died in September 2012, but with each step of this incredible adventure, I think of her and want to tell her that it’s me, just me, an ordinary citizen participating in an extraordinary moment in this nation’s life.  This blog will be a chronicle of the delegate adventure.  How did a woman–a single mom one shade above roadkill when a great life tsunami dropped her and her 2 boys in the strange land of Michigan in August 2011–find herself, less than 5 years later, the female delegate pledged to vote for Senator Bernie Sanders for President on behalf of Michigan’s 11th Congressional District at the 2016 Democratic National Committee Convention in Philadelphia this summer? Only in America…

Next up:  The election of me.