Dear Bernie,

Dear Bernie,

I moved to Vermont in 1993, the year before I turned thirty, two years before my husband & I became parents.
It was in Vermont that something else was conceived inside–a growing awareness & engagement in politics; Because it was in Vermont that I first discovered politics beyond the pocketbook.
Bernie, it was in our early years in Vermont that my young family sat beside you at the Chicken Supper when you were our Congressman, and where we later watched with pride as our son joined you in the Strolling of the Heifers parade down Main Street during your campaign for Senate; and when time sped forward and that same son went off to school at the University of Vermont, my youngest son and I were with you on the waterfront as you announced your campaign for President; which is to say that Bernie Sanders & Vermont are inextricably linked in my understanding of both the rights & responsibilities of citizenship.
But it’s not that for which I’d like to thank you now, Bernie. It’s something larger than one family. It’s the way your presidential campaign gave young people, not just in Vermont, but around this nation, hope. It’s the way you tethered their hearts and minds to a purpose larger than themselves, and to the possibility of something more than the cultural shadow assigned them–ignorance, irrelevance, consumerism & self-absorption.
Bernie, your campaign, your voice, your tenacious heart woke the heart of a nation and seeded a sense of possibility that is taking root in the consciousness & action of our youngest citizens in this most troubling time for our democracy.
Bernie, you have shown them how to fight the good fight.
You have proven to them that they are not alone.
This has inspired them to lead with love.
This has inspired them to vote with passion & purpose.
This has made the privilege of citizenship–whole.
~Kelly Salasin, age 54

Mother of Lloyd, 22, and Aidan, 17, ready to vote in the next election.
Shared Sacrifice

Shared Sacrifice

Kelly Salasin, Vermont, July 2011

As I listen to the Senator from Vermont address the budget issue with calls for “shared sacrifice,” I wonder how such a compassionate nation can be so careless with those we claim to care about the most.

It’s amazing to me just how many of my liberal and conservative Facebook friends will join together in a frenzy around the heartbreak of a child’s life taken–without recognizing that what happens in DC every day–affects many, many more children, just as heartbreakingly.

Where is our compassion and outrage as child abuse rises?

  • US: Economic stress drives rise in child abuse and domestic violence

  • Social service agencies across the US are seeing growing numbers of cases of domestic violence and child abuse.

  • Shaken baby cases on the increase

  • Specialists link rise to economic stress

  • Rise in Child Abuse Called National ‘Epidemic’

How is it that we continue to prioritize profit and gain while claiming to care so much about the American family?

  • In 2009, Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits, paid no federal income taxes and received a $156 million rebate from the IRS.
  • Chevron received a $19 million refund from the IRS last year, even though it made $10 billion in profits in 2009.
  • Corporate tax revenue in 2010 was 27% smaller than 2000, even though corporate profits are up 60% over the last decade.
  • General Electric made $26 billion in profits in the US over the past 5 years and, thanks to loopholes, paid no taxes.
  • In 2005, 1 out of 4 large corporations paid no income taxes even though they collected $1.1 trillion in revenue over that year.

How do we allow our  budget to be balanced “on the backs of the weak and the vulnerable“–while decrying the violence in Norway?

  •  “One of worst proposals on how to reduce red ink came from a group of senators calling themselves the Gang of Six. They want massive cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and virtually every program important to working families, the sick, the elderly, the children and the poor.”

Though he is a Senator from Vermont, my Facebook friend from New Jersey captured Senator Sander’s call for “shared sacrifice” best:

“Bernie, at least, still has–us–as his focus.

Thanks to Vermont for speaking for all of us regular people!”

May all of us “regular people” join our voices with Bernie’s and be heard!