Bernie Sanders fans have selected the most unfortunate catch phrase of "Feel the Bern" to express their love/hysteria/passion for the candidate of their choice. I have to wonder, though, if any of them has ever experienced the pain of a burn. I have, and I can assure you that it is not a fun experience, or something I would wish other people to experience.
When I was ten, I fell on an overturned grate that had been over a campfire all day. I ended up with grill marks across my left hand and a giant blister that forced my hand into a curved position. The only thing that brought any level of relief was to keep my hand on a block of ice all night long, but I cannot explain in words the pain I felt. It was excruciating and after a while you started to hope for unconsciousness to put you out of your misery. The next day, I went to the doctor to see what could be done. The doctor drained the blister, which they don't normally do, but the way it had forced my hand into a curved position was worrisome that it would do permanent muscle damage if it stayed in that position for too long. Next came the scrubbing. With a hard bristle brush. Right on the burned skin. After that came the cutting of the dead skin. Just enough to cut what would pull away on its own. Never forcing it. Then they slathered it in salve and wrapped it in gauze. My mother was trained in how to do this for me and ended up having to continue this for the next week or so. I cannot fathom my mother's strength as she did this for me. It was painful, but it had to be done. It's not a memory she likes to talk about very much, even now. But she did it, because she had to help her child get better.
My burned hand probably doesn't sound like it has much to do with politics, and maybe it doesn't. But it's what the phrase "#FeeltheBern" invokes in me. And don't get me wrong, I am happy that so many people are getting involved in politics and the political process. People are excited and enthusiastic. I am reminded of what Barack Obama's campaign felt like in its infancy. What I don't remember about the Obama campaign, though, was what I refer to as "Bernie Bullies." These are Bernie Sanders fans who are very excited about the idea of a Sanders presidency, but cross a line in the way they go about expressing it. People who bully others. People who call names and make fun of people who are supporting other candidates. The unfortunate result of Bernie Bullies, is the exact opposite of what they are hoping for. Instead of bringing people together and helping to convince people that Sanders is the candidate for them, they are pushing them away, making them cling even harder to the candidate of their choice. Hearing these people say things like, "If Sanders isn't nominated, I'm writing him in/not voting at all/voting for Donald Trump just to spite people," doesn't make me respect them. It makes me question their motives. I think a lot of these people look at Sanders for "What can I get out of him?" instead of "What can he do for all of us?" It's a very selfish point of view.
The worst part of the phrase #FeeltheBern, is that burns fade in time. The pain subsides, and after the scrubbing, cutting, and wrapping, new skin begins to grow and the burn becomes a painful memory. My biggest concern about a Sanders nomination, a Sanders presidency, and his fan base, is the idea that he might not achieve his many, lofty goals. With politics, I am a "slow and steady wins the race" person. When you push people too far, too soon, you end up with a civil war, or a Donald Trump phenomenon. The pendulum always swings back the other way before balancing out again. Unless Sanders comes into a presidency with a brand new "Will do" Congress, pretty much none of his goals will be achieved, through no fault of his own. But, as with what happened with Obama, when people realized he really couldn't walk on water, when people realize that Sanders isn't the Messiah they are praying for, they will begin to turn on him like a pack of rabid dogs. But we're not just electing a new president for the next four years, we are of course hoping to elect them for the next eight. With the majority of his fan base disappointed and disillusioned, it will be up to people like me, people who will vote for the Democrat whoever they are, and keep their eyes on the greater goals and needs of our nation, to get him reelected.
For all the people currently "feeling the Bern," I wonder how many will be left four years from now. How many of his fans are merely fair weather fans, only looking at him to get some cool stuff out of him, who will turn against him when they see how long it takes to achieve his goals? I can guarantee you, if he is elected president and inaugurated next January, you will not have "free" college that February. It's gonna take time. Just like all burns take to heal properly. Do you have that patience? Do you have that stamina? Because I can tell you, with personal experience, that the scrubbing, cutting, wrapping, and regrowth of burned skin is excruciating. But it's worth it. My hand healed and there was no lasting muscle damage. But it's a pretty painful memory for both me and my mom. Will Bernie Sanders end up being a painful memory for his most ardent fans? Possibly. But if he's elected president, hopefully he'll be given the time to move this country to a place where we can handle the dreams he has for us all.