Decorum

bernie and hillary signs (multiple)On the morning of the California primary, I waved my “Hillary” sign at a major intersection during rush hour. When my shift was over, I stopped to chat with two young women on the opposite corner who were holding “Feel the Bern” signs.

“Did you go to the rally last night?” I asked, referring to Bernie’s final get-out-the-vote push in San Francisco.

“Yes! It was so amazing!” they exulted.

“That’s so exciting!” I said, adding before I went off for my morning latte, “As long as we all come together in November.”

Although I meant it sincerely, I must have come across the way every middle-aged mom comes across to children wary of criticism disguised as sweet talk. Their tone darkened immediately: “If we do, Hillary owes us big time.”

I thought of these young women as I watched the Democratic Convention, struck by how young so many attendees were. They had come full of hope and passion, the tears streaming down their faces as their hero Bernie took to the podium. I recognized those rapt faces, those tears. A long time ago that had been me (albeit in my living room, not on any convention floor) soaking in the glory of my hero, George McGovern, incredulous and heartbroken that our noble mission had fallen short.

But I was also myself as I am now: an older woman who felt horrified by the lack of respect and decorum these same young convention-goers showed as they booed and jeered the speakers.

Then I thought of another indecorous young person—my daughter. When Emma was in high school, a classmate’s mother died. My husband and I were away at the time, but when we returned we learned that Emma had attended the memorial service wearing a hot pink wig and a matching sequined mini-skirt that barely covered her privates.

Horrified and ashamed, I lamented my daughter’s inappropriate behavior to a friend.

“Well,” that friend responded. “At least she showed up. That’s what matters.”

Thank you, Bernie supporters, for showing up, with all your passionate, rowdy, heartbroken, idealistic, organized, and chaotic fervor. You have improved the debate, improved the platform, improved Hillary, improved the country. We do owe you big time. I hope you continue to show up.

That’s what will matter, in November and beyond.

6 thoughts on “Decorum

  1. Loved this post, especially since I’m one of those older moms looking back at my “radical” history and trying to be compassionate with the young radicals today, and I’m glad I had one daughter who voted for Hillary in the primary and one who voted for Bernie….

    • I have the same mix of daughters! The pink-sequinned one voted for Hillary. The one who voted for Bernie said, when I asked very politely if she was willing to hear my thinking about my reasons for deciding for Hillary, said, “Stop trying to brainwash me!” After Obama’s speech at the convention, she texted me asking if I wanted to take a weeklong trip with her in October to volunteer for Hillary in a swing state! So much lovely developmental stuff in this election. Thanks for writing, Marilee.

  2. Powerful piece. Just showing up is usually just okay, but in November the stakes are too high. I am glad the Bernie supporters care, and from what I remember of my passionate youth I know that they are disappointed. But I hope that their disappointment doesn’t cause them to lose sight of what is going on and how the two candidates are not the same at all.

    • Thanks, Heidi. I share your concern, but I think the media is overhyping the Bernie-or-Bust phenomenon. From what I have read, 85% or more of Sanders supporters say they’ll vote for Hillary. That’s a lot more than the percentage of Hillary supporters who said they’d vote for Obama at this point in 2008. I know it is harder to get the young vs older (and mostly women) voters to actually come out, but I am optimistic–especially after reading the number of avid Bernie supporters who were very dubious about HRC saying in the NYT comments section after Hillary’s speech last night that they are now all in! We will not only keep our fingers crossed, we’ll have to work hard!

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