The Senator Bernie Sanders Supporters Facebook Group an Experiment in Social Media
I first noticed Bernie Sanders when back in 2010 he stood in the senate for 8 hours discussing his disdain about tax cuts for the rich. He spoke honestly about the lobbyists that crowded the hallways of Washington D.C. and what they wanted and the corruption he saw daily in the U.S. government. My friend posted about him on Facebook and I started to watch him read letters about his constituents. He talked about seniors, he talked about the cost of the heating oil used in the bitterly cold area of Vermont and how his constituents were suffering and he cared! He had passion in his voice and sounded genuinely angry about what was going on in the world and cuts to things like Social Security and food programs for the poor. It was that day that I fell in love with Bernie Sanders.
Bernie Sanders was raised in a poor immigrant family from Poland in Brooklyn, New York. You can hear his strong accent when he speaks to this day. He was raised working class, no silver spoon in his mouth whatsoever and everything he has and has worked for he has gained with his own merit with his own hard work. As politicians go he is not on the wealthier end. Also, he has been the longest serving Independent senator to be in office in the history of the U.S. Senate. He also proudly claims to be a Democratic Socialist and doing so has managed to be extremely successful in politics after many times trying, the man does not give up.
I had so much regard for this man when I researched him and started to get to know him, that I started a Facebook group for him entitled Senator Bernie Sanders Supporters. It started out in the double digits as far as membership. But I soon found that as Bernie made more and more waves and was seen on the news more often fighting the Tea Party movement that literally shut down the government, my group started to grow in numbers. Then there were rumors and hopes that he may run for president. Then the day happened, with many people hoping for this fighter of corruption and Pitt bull in the ring fighting for American justice, Bernie announced in a very humble way, in his home state of Vermont in an incredibly moving speech, that he was running for president. I had tears in my eyes I was so happy when I heard his speech. It was full of hope and sincerity. I would never in a moment doubt this man’s honesty.
With the rumors circulating that he might run some months prior to the actual announcement, other groups I was on that were controlled by Green Party members began to be nasty and arguments arose in the Bernie fans sector about how he should run whether that would be as a Green Party candidate or Democrat. Many of the Green Party members said they would not vote for him if he chose to be a Democratic Candidate, however the argument arose, and he would definitely stand no chance as a Green Party candidate to actually win the presidency. Arguments broke out and people were belligerent about their views. I had interchange on my group, which I managed to keep neutral between members of the Green Party that would come on the group and insist that he should only run as Green Party and attack others that did not have the same opinion. I began to be friends with other moderators of Bernie groups on Facebook and we discussed different issues going on in different groups. There has been a great deal of turmoil. When Bernie did finally decide to run as Democratic, my group had weathered the storm. I did not allow that kind of disruption on my group as the founding admin.
Then it started, the overwhelming influx of members requesting to join my group. I began to have too much work to do, I kept adding admins, hand-picked by me that I knew to be loyal Bernie fans. The other groups were being hit by trolls, so we carefully looked over all profiles of people before allowing them to join our group. One woman had literally gone on a Bernie group that was doing well , befriended the admins, asked to be an admin herself and then when they allowed it, kicked all the admins off the group and dismantled the entire group. Every Bernie group and their administrators know this woman’s name as well as possible cronies and they keep an eye out on their lists when she attempts to join. She has attempted to join my list several times as it got larger and more noticeable. It is said that she is a die-hard Hillary Clinton fan and that she does this to that end.
We would grow over 200 people a day at some points after he announced his run for presidency. The admins and I had to work at this 24 hours a day and were pretty much on shifts for what parts of the country that they lived in and I lived in and even my Mom, a Democrat that wasn’t certain about Bernie, helped out as an admin at my request and as she did, she learned more about Bernie and is now an avid fan and wants him to be president. My brother began to listen to me talk about him and also began to be a fan, and my significant other, previously a Libertarian also joined suit when he heard things that he was saying when I would listen on YouTube in our office. My son who hates all government recently told me in a phone call he felt that Bernie was okay, we have never agreed on a candidate. Bernie started to catch on like wildfire. He was in the news more and more. Despite the lack of media as compared to other candidates, he has record numbers of people turning out for his events, in Madison, Wisconsin and in Iowa I have read about. They don’t have enough seats and people like what the man has to say. On my group I would add members that were white, they were union members, they were Native American, African American, Hispanics, gay and lesbian people, Jews, Christians, they were veterans, and there were previous Republicans that liked what Bernie was saying. They were conservative, they were liberal. We started to have politicians and business leaders join the group. We started to have reporters join the Bernie list that were there to report on how people were feeling.
I read that most of Bernie’s message is being passed on through social media. I believe this, I saw it happen on my group and it was amazing. I read one article that called him the royalty of the Social Media. Where the mainstream media may be failing him, social media is getting to people and they are tired of how the country is being run, they are tired of the corruption of the filthy rich people that keep getting richer and controlling the government and they want things to be for the working class for all the people, not just a privileged few. My group was growing so fast and it was becoming a full time job, at a time when I am doing my intern work for my MS degree in clinical mental health counseling so I decided to gracefully bow out of the active role and put this in the hands of my wonderful admins who had been there 24 hours a day helping with adding members, screening posts. One of them had worked on the Obama campaign and has experience. I was okay with this, I had worked with them long enough to trust them with my baby. I looked on the group where I am still an admin in name and there are now 3,304 members. I never dreamed when I started the group that it would grow like this.
These are exciting times in politics and there has not been this much hope in many years for any election for change like this. With Bernie, that is what is coming. He is the spearhead of awareness that people are just not going to take how things have been anymore, one of his main ideas is a political revolution and I believe that we need this. Don’t you?