Within about 5 minutes of perusing the news sites this morning, I was in a glum mood. The headlines indicated that we are approaching the climate change tipping point, that some bacteria no longer respond to our best antibiotics, and that, oh yes, we need to be terribly afraid of all Muslim/brown/immigrant/refugee people (take your pick, it seems). Coupling this with my own struggles with my health lately, I felt assaulted from all sides, sad for the current state of the human race, and not very hopeful for the future. Really, that is not like me at all. So, I am grateful that I had the chance to watch Bernie Sanders speak at Georgetown University this afternoon.
While the main theme of his speech was about the meaning of Democratic Socialism, he took on all of the tough issues facing the U.S. and the world today, including economic inequality, access to health care, climate change, racism, xenophobia, terrorism, and national and international security. He shared a coherent vision, one that is grounded in a deep sense of human compassion, a firm grasp of history and policy, and a lifetime of public service. That vision was supported by concrete plans, including plans for how to work effectively across differences in a divided Washington and how to build international coalitions across religious and ideological differences. The ideological label attached to that vision is almost beside the point.
If this is Democratic Socialism, sign me up. Senator Sander’s words resonated with my own commitment to issues of economic and social justice — for everyone, not just the privileged few. It is difficult to explain how much my heart welled with pride and happiness to hear the Senator speak boldly, bluntly, and fearlessly about these issues. He truly does speak truth to power. I have to say, it was one of the best policy speeches I have ever seen, and I spent quite a few years teaching public speaking. Suddenly, I feel a bit more spring in my step.