Why I am running to be Bernie Sanders Delegate to the Democratic National Convention as a Democrat Abroad
As a 27-year-old, LGBT, Colombian immigrant, working-class Latino American, I am running for Bernie Sanders delegate for the Democrats Abroad delegation because I believe that only by cementing Bernie’s ideas into the Democratic National Platform will we build the multiracial, multigenerational, working-class coalition critical to propel us to victory in November.
We are living in unprecedented times. In a context of crisis and uncertainty, we are being asked to vote this November to elect our next President. In the U.S., as elsewhere, the crisis of Covid-19 has exposed, exploited, and exacerbated deeper underlying structures of inequality: racial disparities in healthcare, job loss (with Hispanics, workers without college degrees, and women being amongst the most hit), rise in food insecurity among low-income households. The recent jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the unemployment rate to be around 14.7 percent — an all-time peak since such tracking began in 1948. At the same time, more than 80 percent of adults support shelter-in-place measures, even as the current occupant of the White House irresponsibly cheerleads armed, anti-stay-at-home protesters to storm into state capitols. The “day after Covid-19” is thus a long time from today.
Covid-19 is the spark that set ablaze structural vulnerabilities yearning to burn: feeble protections for workers, weaknesses in the health care system, the pitfalls of a consumer-driven economy guided by a profit-making logic, and a thin or nonexistent social safety net for the most precarious. Although these high unemployment rates indicate the overall degree of depression of our current economy, they need not be automatically equated with disaster at the individual level. In France for example, where I live, the government put in place measures to safeguard employment, protecting the salaries of 10 million workers and setting them up for a quicker transition once the spread of the virus subsides.
In the U.S., meanwhile, the CARES act has been wholly inadequate. The one-time stimulus rebate has been all but spent by families on essential goods. While the current President fumbles his response to the crisis, his colleagues in Congress are hardly doing a better job: only one Republican, Josh Hawley, seems to have understood the magnitude of the problem, by proposing a payroll tax rebate that would cover 80 percent of payroll expenses. Measures proposed by Democrats include providing a stable source of income in the form of reloadable debit cards to every individual by minting 2 $1 trillion coins. Outside Congress, a federal jobs guarantee has been proposed. These are the kind of big, policy proposals we need to take seriously right now.
It is no doubt that our current President has been an incompetent leader. If exceptionalism is the idea that defines America, the Covid-19 mortality rates certainly corroborates it: we are now the epicenter of the global crisis. If only for that, we should all be opposed to another four years of Donald Trump. We need to sweep Trump out office in November.
In order for us to do that, we need to mobilize voters to have a huge voter turn out in November. As it stands, Former Vice President Joe Biden’s candidacy suffers from very low rates of enthusiasm: only 24 percent of his supporters a month ago were “very” enthusiastic about supporting him, versus 53 percent of Trump’s supporters. These numbers are even worse than those of Hillary Clinton four years ago. The idea that Biden has consolidated support among Democratic voters doesn’t strike me as true, and we shouldn’t take it for granted. However, this is not all bad — we should take this opportunity to reflect on our priorities going forward, policies that speak to voters and resonate with their lived experiences.
The November 2020 election will more than certainly be a referendum on Trump’s management of this crisis. The other side of that, however, is whether youth, working class voters, and Latino voters — the largest minority bloc of voters yet among the most reluctant to support Biden — will be inspired enough to vote Blue.
As a Voting Representative in Democrats Abroad in France and an activist for France for Bernie, I have invested my energy in canvassing, voter registration, turning out the vote for the Global Presidential Primary, which Bernie won by wide margin. Now that it is over, and Bernie has conceded, I am ready and willing to invest my time and energy to persuade the Democratic party to reflect the interests of the working-class, of young voters, and minorities who don’t currently feel represented by either party.
A time of crisis is also a time for big ideas. Democrats and progressives must unite to restructure our economy, limit the influence of corporate interests that hollowed out the middle and working classes, and set the conditions for a more prosperous, more egalitarian, more just American economy — across all stratifications. Personally, the benefit of living in another country is not to boast a higher quality of life but to bear witness and attest to the viability of political programs seen otherwise as “pie in the sky”: Medicare for All, College for All, Jobs for All, Justice for All. Living abroad expands the bandwidth of thought, gives us more options, and offers us alternatives by which to frame policy discussions, and I hope to take my experience to change the political imagination at the DNC.
Especially in these times, we need to demand better and aspire for more, first for ourselves, then from our Democratic party and presumptive nominee Vice President Joe Biden, and finally from the American people in November. That is how we take back the Presidency in 2020: by campaigning and mobilizing around a bold, courageous, and inspiring agenda.
I will make it my goal to ensure that our voices as Democrats Abroad are heard, that our demands are reflected in the policy proposals and commitments of Democrats this cycle, that Bernie’s ideas receive the fiery representation they deserve. Ideas to improve our lives, the lives of others in our vulnerable communities, ideas that foster long-lasting, sustainable gardens of well-being, dignity, and solidarity, so that prosperity is not just a property of the privileged but the unalienable right of all.