Reader Sam Spadino, on why he's voting for Bernie Sanders:
"It's a weird time to be alive. Who could've predicted that 16 years into the 21st century, the time of hoverboards, artificial intelligence, Kanye West, and vaping, the most relevant figure in the American cultural landscape at this moment would be a 74-year-old New York Jew named Bernie?
"Disagree? Maybe you haven't heard much about him, or have yet to grasp the significance of this movement. But I'd also be willing to bet that if you've yet to Feel The Bern, you're still getting most of your information from the saline drip of TV news.
"However the hell we got here Bernie Sanders and the progressive ideals he embodies can no longer be denied, ignored, or marginalized. Sometime in the last nine months the clever kids on the internet woke up, got pissed off, and decided that after years of not giving any, that it was now time to get together and decidedly give a fuck. I decided to volunteer in this campaign for the first time in my life. These are my observations.
"I was born in Maplewood, MN, raised evangelical, home-schooled K-12, attended a four-year Bible college, and blindly voted for George W. Bush when I was 18.
"Now, at 34, I'm a divorced, unemployed filmmaker, who's gone from recently considering expatriating myself to boldly proclaiming the gospel according to Bernie.
"The irony isn't lost on me. I've probably been searching for a savior my whole life. The feeling of knocking on a door trying to sell someone an idea or motivate them to seek salvation isn't much different whether it's a prophet or a president that you're preaching.
"My own skepticism toward anyone mandating laws for how to live a moral life grew out of watching a steady stream of disgraced televangelists and disingenuous representatives pander for money, votes, or forgiveness. It culminated in the deep regrets of my unquestioning patriotism to a "Christian" nation that allowed a Commander in Chief to declare a preemptive war in Iraq based on lies and greed. The hypocrisy of the "pro-life" and "justice for all" mindset exemplified.
"In 2008 I attended the presidential debates in New Hampshire. Posing as a reporter for a Minnesota cable access channel, I garnered press passes from CNN and was able to directly ask now Vice President Joe Biden whether if elected would he shut down Guantanamo Bay. He assured me that he would and "build a school there." We're still waiting on that.
"And as emotional and historical as electing Obama was, the hope he promised has left many of us with the sickening realization that many things we hoped would change might never come to pass. That the progress we thought it signified, in many ways only revealed how much further we need to go. It left me asking last year, "What if this is just how life in America is going to stay?" A depressing trudge through a white-supremacist, patriarchal, oligarchy. We're born, we pay bills, we die. And shit is racist and sexist and classist as fuck the whole time.
"It's easier to see this paradigm when you leave the states for any amount of time, when you see that there are many other ways to live. Astoundingly, some countries are somehow able to succeed in producing better educated, more peaceful populations that don't fetishize guns and trucks and titties.
"I'm not saying we have it all bad here. I'm glad I'm not peeling shrimp in a workhouse in Thailand or building cheap electronics in China. But as a consumer of products made by slaves, how much better of a life is this? As the most powerful nation on the planet, how have we not figured out how to make existence suck less for people, instead of pretending to help them by bombing the shit out of their countries and exploiting their resources? Then we have the audacity to be constantly afraid of attack by those same people we've oppressed for decades. I think we're worried about the wrong enemy.
"Life can also be pretty shitty for millions of people in this country of ours too. 2,220,000 people in prison, 50,000,000 in poverty, 293,000 sexually assaulted per year, 32,000 killed by guns, etc.
"If you have managed to achieve a level of comfort in America, through hard work, luck, or, like me, a fellow lifelong beneficiary of the perks of being born a straight white male, it's understandably not easy to consider turning your back on that privilege or ever thinking of relinquishing what little power you may have.
"The fear of slightly less allows us to casually ignore our fellow humans in need or convince ourselves that dismissing their struggles is justifiable, even if we are indirectly contributing to those very problems by our continued self-indulgence.
"So maybe, as your power and wealth grow, your fear and greed grow with it. With our inflated egos our inability to see increases simultaneously with our unwillingness to change. The denial and delusion that we are neither the cause nor the potential solution to the problems of the world, those we chalk up to 'human nature,' is thick.
"Why else would you be afraid of an immigrant coming to take your job, or a welfare recipient getting their check? Why else would you be so fucking defensive about the idea that you may have learned casual racist tendencies? Why else would you deny the fucking possibility of climate change? Why would you think that all Muslims are terrorists? Why would you be so fucking afraid of the words 'democratic socialism'?
"And with the answers to these questions a spectrum emerges in the great theater we call our political system. On one hand, a bloated clown, literally, trumping up the ignorance and fear in those feeble enough to not know what bad acting looks like. And on the other, a very grumpy yet loving grandpa appealing from his heart to those sensible enough to listen, that maybe it's time we took a step back and stop fucking up the planet for ourselves and others, stop bickering over scraps and killing each other while a small number of insanely rich and powerful people dictate the course of our destiny.
"But no, we think we can't have it better because we stopped dreaming about what better would look like. We have grown accustomed to the chains of debt and disease because we expect to struggle. We'd rather shoot someone than listen to them, and sooner lock someone up than help them. We are more willing to work a meaningless job for a lifetime than to band together to create beauty in the world.
"At least that's what I thought. Then Bernie fucking Sanders got super popular on Facebook.
"We have finally found a voice that is speaking truth to power and has been consistently for the last 40-plus years. A voice that resonates like we believe our own could. He may not weigh in on all the topics that concern us, like SpongeBob and sexting, but he is weighing in on income inequality and marijuana, topics which do concern us very much indeed.
"Unfortunately the process of actual democracy is as archaic and un-user friendly as Myspace. It doesn't make sense to let the rich buy elections, to let the media unfairly influence them, or to let fucking coin flips in Iowa decide what direction our country goes.
"It's messy, it's inefficient, it's counter-intuitive, but it's the system we let remain in place by not being involved. By not discussing it.
"We need to be openly involved. We can't let our fears and ignorance about the political process hold us back from experimenting with something that feels really good. It feels good to stand up for your beliefs. It feels good to volunteer for a cause that matters. And it feels good to slip a finger into that voting booth once in a while and press the button!
"Here's the truth. You don't have to like Bernie Sanders. You can stay afraid and greedy for as long as you want, but the rest of us, the sensible ones, don't have time for your bullshit anymore.
"We all have to live on this planet together and the powers that be are making it increasingly difficult for that process to be enjoyable for many of the people on earth. We have to do something because we are the only ones who can or will.
"Bottom line is we get a chance to elect a hilarious, compassionate president who happens to look a lot like Larry David, and wants our country to be healthy, educated, and thriving. An America not just helping the rich get richer and telling us to settle for what we have. For these and all the issues that matter, he has consistently and clearly addressed in this campaign and his whole damn career.
"I #feelthebern, and I think you should too.
"And please, try not to fuck this up for once in your goddamn life."