Lessons from an Irish Political Revolution
Are you under 25 and want Bernie Sanders to be the next President? Don’t underestimate the considerable power you have with your parents and grandparents.
Do you have family in a Super Tuesday state? Make a date to talk to them this weekend.
Imagine a movement of young people talking with their grandparents and parents and asking them to vote for Bernie, for the sake of the next generation.
Maybe the conversation goes like this: “Granny, it’s a different world than the one you grew up in. Can you imagine what it’s like to graduate from college at age 22 with $100,000 in debt? Do you know what it’s like to get a job in today’s economy? Do you see how unequal our society has become? I want to live a long life full of love and laughter, not crushing debt on a warming planet in the midst of massive human rights violations. There’s only one candidate that has a vision for the deep changes we need. Would you consider voting for Bernie, for my sake?”
There is an amazing and powerful precedent. On May 22nd, 2015, the Irish people voted overwhelmingly to legalize gay marriage. This was a seismic cultural shift in Ireland’s Catholic and traditional society.
How did this political revolution happen? An essential ingredient was that younger people talked respectfully to their elders, letting them know what was truly at stake.
Ireland’s “Yes Equality” campaign even offered suggestions for how to broach the topic of marriage equality that started with questions about their parents and grandparents’ marriage.
In celebrating the Irish vote, Yes Equality observed,
Today’s result belongs to the people who shared their personal stories, laying bare the heartbreak, the loneliness, and the lost potential; touching hearts and minds; making it all but impossible for others to ignore the personal anguish and unnecessary pain inflicted by innate inequality on our gay citizens, and its impact on so many lives. The Irish people have now swept that world away.
The key here is to tell your personal story –of student debt, disillusionment, anxiety for the future, and what it’s like to come of age in a period of extreme inequality.
Cultural differences and the size of little Ireland mean that many Irish youth may see their grandparents and parents more frequently than the modern, dispersed American family. Perhaps you do not feel comfortable talking about politics with your grandparents. Perhaps you do not feel comfortable talking about much at all with them. So do it. And it will speak volumes.
The inequalities engulfing the United States are cutting generationally, with people under 35 feeling the full brunt. Your parents and grandparents may not fully understand what it feels like to be you at this time. So tell them. And ask them personally to vote for your future.
“Hey Granny, please vote for Bernie. He’s almost as cool as you are.”