I think about this boy all the time. I wonder if he beat the odds. I wonder where he is. I wonder if he's still alive. He still makes my heart hurt. I thought about him when I first heard Bernie Sanders speak.
Choosing which candidate to support for president was one of the most difficult tasks I have done in the recent past. I've always been strong in my resolve, firmly planted in my roots and guided by my sense of justice. I have never made a political decision based on what was the "smart" or "safe" thing to do (just ask any of my often times dismayed political advisors) and I have always done what I believed aligned with my values and my ideals. But this decision was difficult because both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are both accomplished and worthy candidates, and both are light years ahead of any of the Republican choices. And as the first Latina elected to the Nevada legislature in the history of the state, and as a young woman who has struggled mightily in this male-dominated world of politics, Hillary inspires a lot of pride.
But only one of these candidates makes me think of that young boy in South Central Los Angeles-- and that's Bernie Sanders. We used to live in a country where the "American Dream" was attainable for most. We used to live in a country where you could make it if you tried, where upward mobility was a tangible thing, and where education was the key to success.
But that's not the America we live in anymore. Fewer and fewer Americans are able to break the cycle of poverty, wages are stagnant or declining for most except for the top 1%, and our political system is dominated by millionaires and billionaires. Secure retirements and pensions are becoming a thing of the past, and that key to success via education is instead becoming a weight of massive debt hanging around the necks of young people everywhere, myself included. How did we end up in a country where you can break the cycle of poverty only to end up in a cycle of debt?
I believe that Bernie Sanders wakes up every day with these things on his mind. That the unfairness of it all weighs on his heart, just like it does mine, and that when he is elected, he will do whatever it takes to make America the land of opportunity again. I believe that Bernie Sanders will lead the charge, with many millions of Americans behind him, against the unfettered Wall Street greed that has threatened the very existence of the middle class and shackled so many more to permanent poverty. I believe that now, more than ever, America needs a political revolution.
I hope you will join me.