Bernie Sanders: The End of Cynicism


I'm a new kind of a voter. I was brought up in a dictatorship, in Iran, and don't have much hands-on experience with democracy. I just googled it and it is best NOT to post photos of your ballot online. So you have to take my word for it.

I just voted absentee for the first time in a DNC primary. I sincerely hope it is not the last time I vote in a DNC primary because it is easier to make a party better than to start from scratch. Plus, I feel a certain loyalty to the party that gave us a president as great as Obama.

For the first time in my life, I see this cynicism, which has grown inside me over the years like a virus, fading -- and boy does it feel good. I am so tired of being told and believing that cheating, lying and stealing is the way of the world. This notion, as closely held as the American dream, that the tougher you are, the more duplicitous you are, the more cold-blooded you are, the more likely you are to succeed. It must be a vestige of the days of Al Capone that somehow made its way into Business School textbooks. Some Mafia ethos swallowed whole by Wall Street. If the wealth didn't trickle down the thieves' ethos did, from Wall Street to Main Street.

At my first job in the U.S. I learned that the owner of the shop bought stolen goods from truck drivers. I also learned that she overcharged whenever she could. Literally stealing from customers on a daily basis tapping the wrong totals on the cashier. I soon understood that despite their geographic and political science naiveté Americans were not necessarily very honest when it came to business.

I remember an American economics teacher at The Community School, in Tehran, telling us this truism that stuck in my head: In business, if you can get away with it, it's OK. She also taught us the saying: there is no such thing as free lunch. My Iranian head couldn't really get around that one for a long time. Free lunches are an old tradition in my place of birth. Weddings, births, and especially deaths are all occasions for the giving of food to the poor. It took me a while to understand what that adage meant.

I feel bad for having passed this cynicism to my kids- having taught them that working within the system, no matter how corrupt, is the best route to success and fulfillment. You see, no mom wants her kids disappointed and struggling, or dead, as in the case of the Iran elections uprising not too long ago. We are moderates by instinct. But when a chance comes to make things better, to level the field, to promote fair play we jump on it. Because as women and traditional caregivers we instinctively understand the horrible burden of inequality.

I, for one, am tired of having to teach kids that the world is a horrible place. I'm tired of thinking that if you are not a loud-mouthed, aggressive, alpha bully you are not going to make it in this world. I want to show the children, our future, those not able to vote yet, that you can be a seventy-something who kept believing in his message of fairness till he upturned the entire notion of the bully as the successful American.

My cynicism weighed on me and I'm grateful to Bernie Sanders for having unburdened me. Imagine, living in a world where you have to teach your kids to be less good! Thank heavens, as the polls show, they didn't listen. This election is not about a candidate or a party it is about restoring our integrity as citizens and parents.