My life is an anomaly. No, this is not yet another blog post about being transgender—that’s practically normal after the fallout from North Carolina’s HB2. I mean that the circumstances of my life make no logical sense. For instance, I won an election this past Saturday, becoming an official pledged delegate for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign at the Democratic Party’s national convention in Philadelphia this July. I am representing Florida’s 4th Congressional District, which includes most of Duval and Nassau Counties.
All my voters had to be registered Democrats (despite me having substantial independent support, just like Bernie himself). Therefore I legitimately won a purely partisan election. Technically, I hold a political office and have a voice to influence national policy, albeit a very minor one. I spent very little money on my campaign, utilizing little other than donated poster board and markers to produce one sign. Above is a picture of me holding that sign in front of the equivalent campaign materials of the winning delegates for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Notice any difference?
I do not wish to disparage Lisa King or her husband. They legitimately won by attracting a legion of voting fans thanks to the good work that Ms. King has done around Jacksonville. Rather, I want to call attention to the visual disparity, the raw difference in available resources.
Just like I point out in my justification for supporting Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, this picture demonstrates that politics, as currently structured in America, favors those with established resources. Breaking into the system is not easy. Had I run as a delegate for Hillary Clinton instead of Bernie Sanders, I would have surely lost. Ms. King won by over double the votes of her closest competitor, garnering over 160. I received 29 while my closest competitor received 22.
The Clinton voters who came, on the whole, were older and either retired or working full-time. With several exceptions, the Sanders voters were significantly younger, fairly close to my age. Several of my 20- and 30-something friends told me that they wanted to vote for me but lived in the wrong district, were not registered as Democrats, or—more telling than anything else—had to work during the mere four-hour window that the polls were open.
I have already outlined just a little bit of the ridiculousness of my own employment situation, and I plan to produce many more Death of an Adjunct articles, but the simple truth is that younger workers are less likely to have consistent Monday through Friday 9 AM to 5 PM employment. Our schedules are erratic, as is our general availability for activities.
With that said, how did I win? Clearly, it wasn’t because I was handing out free swag or even calling potential supporters prior to the election—I did none of that. All I did was honestly outline my platform on a Facebook event (reproduced in my blog) and send out one email to a list of Bernie supporters. Two of my voters, whom I had never met before, explained it best: “We read about all the candidates online and you had the best platform.” In other words, my views and writing skills helped me win.
To be honest, I feel a little bad about my win. In a sense, I have a similar level of privileged advantage as Ms. King. Thanks to North Carolina’s bigotry, transgender people have been in the news lately (I am very open about my identity), and progressives are, for the most part, all too happy to show their support for the trans population. Aside from that, even though I am seemingly incapable of making a livable income, I am still a professor as well as an author—positions many people dream of achieving. Additionally, I have gained a bit of a cult following around Jacksonville because of my contributions to the efforts to pass an LGBT-inclusive human rights ordinance in the city.
In contrast, most of my opponents were far more active in campaigning for Bernie Sanders, whereas I was busy with those other functions. I only made phone calls for the campaign twice and never went out door to door talking to voters. I have volunteered for causes that Bernie Sanders supports, but did little with the campaign itself. Essentially, I was elected by being well-known. I couldn’t afford a tent and giving away of free food, but I still had an unfair advantage.
By now, I have already raised over half of the necessary travel costs for reaching the convention in Philadelphia. I have additional advantage of having a cousin who lives there, meaning that I don’t need any money for a hotel. Again, this is unfair to the other candidates.
In other words, a multitude of factors came together to let me win an election though not livable employment. Who’d have thought, right? Am I excited to go to Philly? You bet your ass. It’s about time an economically disadvantaged intellectual informed some high and mighty politicians about dying adjuncts and transgender discrimination BS. My own privilege, in contrast to my lack of disposable income, got me this far, but I promise to leave no one behind—I have constituents to represent now, after all, and many are in worse positions than me. I won’t let them down. #FeelTheBern