As January pivots to February, Southern Californians head to the beach (as we do all year) to watch, Margaritas in hand, as bikini-clad aspiring starlets play beach volleyball with the sun setting slowly behind them into the Pacific.
So why will I be in Iowa, freezing to within an inch of my life?
Two words: Bernie Sanders.
For only the second time in my political life, the Democratic Party stands a good chance of nominating a genuine liberal, a progressive who has a chance to win it all and who will move heaven and earth to implement the values the Democratic Party and the United States have always claimed to stand for. Not since South Dakota Senator George McGovern ran in 1972, have I been this excited.
The fact that Bernie Sanders is a newly-minted member of the Democratic Party bothers me not a whit. If you look at his positions and those of former Goldwater Girl Hillary Rodham Clinton, you will have no trouble discerning who the true Democrat (either with a capital or a lower-case D) is.
But securing the Democratic nomination won’t be easy. The corporate media studiously ignores Bernie to the point that #BernieBlackout is a popular hashtag on Twitter. And then there’s the Democrats’ own Queen of Mean, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who neglects her duties representing the 23rd District of Florida in the House of Representatives so she can put her thumb on the scale and deliver the Democratic nomination for president to Hillary Clinton, who she served as a campaign manager in Hillary’s unsuccessful 2008 run (great job, Deb).
Unlike the more than 20 Democratic debates in 2008, there are only six scheduled this campaign season. The second one, held in Iowa, was on a Saturday night. And, as I don’t need to tell you, not just any Saturday night, but the Saturday night the then-undefeated (sorry about that, guys) University of Iowa football team won a thrilling 40-35 victory over Minnesota. The third debate was the Saturday before Christmas when everyone was traveling over the river and through the trees to Grandma’s house. Rumor has it the only reason Debbie didn’t schedule another debate on New Year’s Eve was that she couldn’t book a hall on short notice.
So Bernie doesn’t have the corporate media. And he doesn’t have the Democratic Party establishment. He only has good old “We the People,” of whom I am a charter member.
When I can tear myself away from the beach, I volunteer for Bernie in Southern California: phone banking, donating, importuning friends to donate, tweeting and putting a sign in my window. But here’s why I want to parachute into Hawkeye-land: You guys are first. If Hillary wins by even one vote, the corporate media will cry crocodile tears over Bernie in such profusion it will outdo the spring flooding of the Mississippi. They will attempt to prematurely bury Bernie’s campaign, and I don’t want to give them the chance. So I’m Iowa-bound.
Being recently retired as a teacher of English as a Second Language in the adult schools of Los Angeles, I know that Bernie has the most humane policies toward undocumented workers. Even as I type this, Mr. Hope and Change himself is giving the green light to a series of raids around the country that will break up many families at the bottom of this country’s economic food chain.
As a freshly-minted retiree, I also have the time to do this thing. So I will.
That’s my story. Please say hi to me when I arrive: I’ll be the one who’s shivering and asking for directions to the nearest game of beach volleyball.
Jon Krampner is a retired adult-school instructor of English as a Second Language and the author of three books: The Man in the Shadows: Fred Coe and the Golden Age of Television (Rutgers University Press, 1997), Female Brando: The Legend of Kim Stanley (Backstage Books/Watson-Guptill, 2006) and Creamy and Crunchy: An Informal History of Peanut Butter, the All-American Food (Columbia University Press, 2013). He tweets at @bantorture.
Photo Credit: By Phil Roeder [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons