This is part of a series of persuasive essays written by Lancaster Stands Up members in support of their preferred candidates in the lead-up to Lancaster Stands Up’s People’s Caucus (Saturday, February 15 — details and RSVP here) and member endorsement vote. All LSU members are invited to submit a piece advocating for their preferred candidate. Submissions should be no longer than 600 words, should not argue with other members’ essays, and should be respectful. You must be a LSU member. (Become a LSU member here.) Submit your essay to info@lancasterstandsup.org.

The “Big We”

by Otis Ubriaco, Lancaster Stands Up member

To me, “why Bernie” is bigger than how he stacks up against the other candidates on policies and issues. “Why Bernie” is bigger than even the 2020 election.

I think the most important reason “why Bernie” is because we are in a truly historic moment. 

We are seeing the rise of both the far right and progressive populist movements (both domestically and globally) who both feel the status quo has not been good enough. These two groups have two hugely different views on how we should navigate the next few decades.

I believe we can reduce and contrast these two groups’ visions on who is considered “we.” This is because our politics naturally reflect our own self interest. So who is “we?” Is it people who share our gender, race, sexual orientation, primary language, religion, zip code, or country of birth? Trump’s definition of “we” is the narrowest – sowing racial and religious divisions while propping up misogynstic and homophobic leaders to benefit an even narrower net – the 1%. I think Bernie casts the widest net of “we” in the primary – I mean it’s his campaign slogan – “not me, us.” That message is important because Bernie not only thinks our policies should benefit the widest definition of “we” but that our policies should be decided by the widest definition of “we.” 

How the U.S. reacts to millions of people from the global south emigrating due to global warming, citizens falling further in debt due to health care/education/institutional racism/sexism, increasing un(der)employment, the U.S. no longer being the sole superpower (and how our military reacts to this), amongst other issues will be a direct result of who our government considers to be “we.

A movement for us wouldn’t be possible without the “big we” supporting it. Bernie has mobilized people in a way that’s never been seen. With no big corporate donors and only individual donations, Bernie has outraised all of his opponents on just $18 per donation from over one million unique people. He has more volunteers, making more calls, and knocking more doors than any other candidate. This is because his message casts the widest net and resonates with the widest range of people who know their future depends on them not being left behind by future politicians. They know that a “we” that’s bigger than Trump’s but isn’t the widest “we” isn’t good enough.

Bernie isn’t the only one casting this wide net. This movement is powered by other leaders who support Bernie like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Pramila Jayapal, and the Sunrise Movement who have shown that we can win elections and gain real power through bold vision that benefits the “big we.”

There is no doubt that we are in a historic moment where there is a people powered movement that’s ready to transform U.S. politics to work for all of us. Historically those who fought for the widest and boldest definition of equality, representation, and justice are the ones who are remembered for being on the “right side of history,” even when there were a large amount of dissenters in the moment. Those who fought for a return to the status quo or incremental change (“what’s realistic”) are remembered at the very least as unfortunate products of “the times”. Why would this moment be any different? It would be a shame if Lancaster Stands Up didn’t share this bold vision that millions around the country have and fought for all of us by demanding that none of us get left behind.