How I Became an Enthusiastic Volunteer for Hillary Clinton

A Personal Journey

By Bonnie Bernstein Levy

When I was growing up, Voting Day was always a happy day. I remember the excitement and pride I felt as a five-year-old, all dressed up in my best dress, wearing little white gloves, standing next to my mother in the curtained booth as she voted.

At thestevensonforprez many extended-family meals and celebrations I participated in, everyone at the grown-ups’ table was a Democrat.  And I could hear the grown-ups as they loudly discussed the issues and the candidates. So I felt informed and involved. I remember liking Adlai Stevenson who ran against Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956.  I can still see the silver shoe pin, with a hole in the bottom of the shoe.  To this day I can hear my family talk about Stevenson’s television interview where, when he crossed his leg, you could see a hole in the sole of his shoe!

We identified with Stevenson because that hole showed he wasn’t obsessed with vanity and slick looks.  He was a man who worked hard—like us.

The next campaign button I wore with enthusiasm was a shiny large pin that said: “Mamie—start packing.  The Kennedys are coming!”  I adored JFK.  We all did.  It was a time of hope and youth and excitement and promise. I still was not close to voting age, but I was an American and proud of it. How wonderful it was checking in with the local Kennedy campaign office.  How proud we were passing out literature and going door-to-door. rfk

I grew up.  I took my own daughter with me when I voted – without the white gloves.  I became a teacher.  The kids in my classes knew how proud I was to be standing with them reciting the Pledge of Allegiance each morning, and they knew I took it seriously. They modeled my strong posture, hand planted over my heart.  I felt proud that I was teaching our American system with our ideals and values to the next generation.

In 2008 I added Social Studies to my Language Arts curriculum.  How fabulous it was that I got to teach the Constitution and the electoral system—and that a neighbor of ours was running for President.  I heard kids say “My uncle goes to the same barber with him!” or “He lives down the street from us and always asks what we were learning in school.”  It was exciting that Barack Obama was one of ours.

But I didn’t ever wear another campaign button as an adult, or get involved in elections, because I felt everything was all right.

That is until now.

Last month, I listened to every word in every speech of both parties’ conventions.

First, the Republican Convention.  It was staged.  The Trump Team looked like they were pop stars auditioning for a reality show, a lot like a series of five-minute auditions for America’s Got Talent.  Appropriate, since Donald Trump created and starred in his own reality TV show, immortalizing the phrase, “You’re fired!” He craves being the star of the show. He makes no bones about it when he proclaims that he likes to win, he will win, and he will do anything he can to win.

But becoming President of the United States is not a game.  It is the opposite.  Work.  And when we hold an election we hire a President to work for us and uphold our ideals and our laws.

Donald Trump does not work well with others. He purposely surrounds himself with people who will applaud all of his ideas.

We need someone who listens thoughtfully to a variety of courses of action, even those he or she may not favor.  These are complex times, with complex issues. Donald Trump considers himself to be his own closest advisor.  And he wants us to be fearful.  He incites people to fear and to hate others.

We need a President who wants to bring us together, who likes people, who cherishes the individual.

By the close of the Republican Convention, I was furious, and worried.  Then came the Democratic Convention. clintonkaineconvention

I watched, and I listened.  The difference between the two candidates was startling. Contrasting the ersatz glam and glitz of Trump’s “reality game show” convention, Hillary’s convention was real life. She is proven, tried, and true.

Hillary has demonstrated a life-long commitment to helping people.  Real people—not those on a reality show, but the people of everyday life. And she has experience turning these ideals into real change.  Throughout her life she has worked for children, for women, for families.

And not just in the United States.  Her activism on behalf of women and children across the world is renowned. She has always fought for and achieved help for people who need help.   She articulates everything I have always believed in and have worked for as a teacher.

I had to help.  I had no idea what I could do, or where I could go, but I just had to get involved.  I googled “Hillary for President,” and I found a local phone number.  Lauren Beth Gash, the Founding Chair of Tenth Dems, answered the phone.

I asked, “How can I help?”

She said, “Come on over.”

I thought, “Now?”

Of course she meant now, and of course I went.

As I entered the office, I saw a wall festooned with posters and stickers from a multitude of elections.  The room was buzzing with the energy of people planning, talking on phones, peering at computer screens.  I was welcomed and offered cake. The frenzy provoked warm memories.  I had not worked in a Democratic office since high school. My eyes lingered on a photograph of President Kennedy and another of Bobby; they were beckoning to me. I smiled back. I was where I belonged.

We decided I would do well on the phones.  Knowing how important every single vote for Hillary is, I brushed aside my initial nervousness and could not believe when they told me the office was closing, that five hours had gone by. I was so involved…I was actually talking to other voters. I had wonderful conversations with real people with real feelings about real issues. clintonconventonWe need a President who can bring people together.  Hillary does just that.  I had always believed that, and now I was on her team, because that’s just what I did that day—I connected to people I had never met both on the phone and in the office. She brought us together.

I came home smiling, knowing that this time I was involved.  I was working for what I truly believed in.  I could make a difference.

Remember that spot above my heart that my Kennedy button occupied? Well, I’m once again pinned! This time it is Hillary who is by my heart and in my heart.

I can’t wait to get back to work.

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