Sticking Up For Bernie
I first noticed them in late 2015. Stickers on advertisements, lamp posts, public transportation and other locations around New York City.
“Enough is Enough — Bernie Sanders in 2016"
“Let’s Take Our Democracy Back — Bernie Sanders in 2016”
“Not Owned by Wall Street — Bernie 2016”
“He Will Do The Right Thing ~ Spike Lee—Vote Bernie Sanders 2016”
Knowing where Bernie Sanders stood on the issues, and having followed his career—I lived in Vermont for 20 years and would run into Bernie at City Market—I was firmly in support of his campaign.
And so I started taking photographs of these stickers—posting them on my Facebook page, and linking them to a page on my website. A week wouldn’t go by without me seeing one.
On 14 April 2016 a debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was held at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I had to work late that evening. While Sanders was powerfully challenging HRC on her ties to Wall Street banks, as well as her taking $675,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs, I was rushing home in Harlem to try and catch at least some of the debate. It was then that I spotted a person putting one of these stickers on an old phone booth in my neighborhood.
I agreed not to disclose anything about this person. Age, race, gender are irrelevant. We only talked for a minute. They called themselves Breakup B.I.G. Banksy and was obviously a staunch Bernie supporter. They said they wanted to spread the word in an original, personal, creative way—and asked that if I mention meeting them to explain that people don’t need to do stickers, but come up with their own individual, innovative way of participating. To them it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spread the word for such a genuine individual—“while the moneyed powers-that-be will be doing whatever they can to make him invisible and derail his work.”
As we parted they yelled across the street towards me—“Get out and do it!”
The rest is (sad) history.
My perspective. The corporate-owned media narrative of Russian “meddling” was an absurd and phony scapegoat. (I sure am glad that I live in a country that doesn’t meddle with the politics of other countries!) Manipulations within the DNC, pushing forward a candidate that epitomized neoliberal politics which had served only the comfortable and the super-comfortable, had yielded, on 9 November 2016, a reality television celebrity to a Tube-watching nation.
Jump ahead two years, three months, and 10 days later.
On 19 February 2019 Bernie Sanders announced his 2020 candidacy.
A couple months later—just as I began donating to his campaign and was looking for other ways to be help—I once again began spotting the stickers.
“Another Chance To Take Democracy Back — Bernie Sanders 2020”
“Let’s Get The Big Money Control Out Of Politics —Bernie Sander 2020”
“It’s Up To Us To Take Our Democracy Back—Bernie Sanders 2020”
Documenting these political/art actions became for me another way to put my shoulder to the wheel of helping elect this outstanding public servant to the presidency. Friends would tell me where they saw a sticker and I would try to get there an photograph it, later sharing it on various social media.
Conviction and concern cannot wait, and simply being against Trump is not a strategy. Bold forward-looking action is needed for the country—not ways back to the business-as-usual formula that for decades was creating an out of control economic disparity wherein the top 0.1% own about as much as the bottom 90%.
What a candidate stands for, their honesty and conviction—and their consistency on those issues—are measuring points from which to move forward, to act.
A vote is just the last step in the long process of democracy. You can be sure in a country that is increasingly moreso an oligarchy, that the lobbyists and others who serve power are working overtime months before to sway any election.
Bernie Sanders understands that all the changes that have come before (civil rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights) have come from the people. His representative slogan is Not Me . . . Us—and he is working to mobilize people to stand up for themselves —to get health care for all, to extend public education into college, to seriously address climate change, to challenge the military-industrial complex and so many other urgently important issues.
The key is participation in the process—whether through financial donations, phone banking, door to door canvasing, sharing our position with friends/strangers, or . . . or as Breakup B.I.G. Banksy is doing, spreading the word through stickers.
(I’ve also been documenting a Chalk One Up For Bernie Sanders NYC performance art project which utilizes chalk on New York City Streets.)
Sharing this now on Medium in the hopes of inspiring some other creative actions. Get out there and do it!
© AleXander Hirka 2020. All Rights Reserved.