The Administration

Trump’s inaugural from the eyes of a Bernie Sanders delegate

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Standing here today on the National Mall, I witnessed the best and the worst of the characteristic elements of the 2016 election cycle. Tensions are palpable from the underlying frustrations and distrust of our government.

The partisan divide, which has been escalating for decades, is symptomatic of the growing disconnect between the establishment and the people. The steps we take in the coming years will define the nature of the political revolution we continue to work towards.

{mosads}Moving forward, we must take greater ownership of the process, engage in authentic dialogue about the issues, and ensure that our government represents the people.

 

Bernie Sanders calmly and repeatedly reminded us in the 2016 presidential campaign to never lose our sense of outrage in the face of injustice. Donald Trump, in his own way, echoes this advice under the umbrella of the Republican Party. Both Bernie and Trump give voice to the simmering frustration that Americans feel when their participation in democracy is undermined.

Like President Trump, I was personally not involved in politics prior to 2016.

The majority of Americans are suffering under the reinforcement of a system that works for the wealthy few and not for all of us. If you don’t understand this sense of frustration, then the outcomes of the 2016 election cycle will remain a mystery.

Throughout the Democratic primary, the platforms of the two candidates, Bernie and Hillary, were not entirely dissimilar. The approaches and motivations behind their public outreach and engagement, however, were drastically different, and that defined the divide on the left. This is a direct reflection of the factors at play on the national-scale, which enabled Trump to win.

In his inauguration speech, President Trump said:

“The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s Capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.”

Today, I sat here in Washington, D.C., with many others who have become close friends since we met in Philadelphia as National Delegates for Bernie.

Now known as The Coalition, we organized the mass walkout and occupation of the DNC media tent at the National Convention to underscore the silencing of voices by establishment efforts throughout the Democratic primary.

As I was listening to President Trump’s speech I couldn’t help feeling that many of these lines would have been in Bernie’s speech had he won the presidency. This commonality is where we, as progressives, need to start to move forward.

We will be watching for President Trump to hold true to these words with his actions as president. For too long, we have been complicit in electing unsupervised leadership, trusting them to make decisions which are in the best interest of the people. This mistaken assumption that our government can function properly without the active participation of citizens has enabled the degradation of our democracy.

That said, we will not support any loss of the gains we’ve already made on issues of equality and we will continue to advocate for economic, environmental, social, and racial justice.

To be clear, despite the massive divide in ideology between the political left and right we have every intention of enabling policies and dialogue which are to the benefit of our rights as Americans: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We are still here and we are awake. We are stepping up to our roles and responsibilities as citizens of this country to hold our elected officials accountable to the people.

This weekend thousands will arrive in D.C. to protest President Trump’s inauguration; however, when the goal is lost in the expression of righteous anger it is both futile and endangers the value of our message.

Our common goal is a government that represents our people. In order to achieve this we must find new ways to stimulate positive political discourse and encourage public participation across the spectrum. This will require patience, hard work, and setting aside personal egos, but results in stronger bridges to the benefit of all.

President Trump, today you said, “What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.” We agree, and will do everything in our power to make this idea a reality.

Jill Yordy was the Alaska State Director for Bernie 2016, and a Bernie National Delegate. She is cofounder of The Coalition, which aims to redefine how Americans approach politics by building a collaborative communication network that lowers the barriers of entry into the political process and increases public participation.


The views of contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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