A Letter

Dear Senator Sanders,

         You do not know me, but I am a young Democratic voter from a very small town in Ohio. You’ve probably never heard of it, but it was named after a Polish officer who fought in our revolution. In that tiny little spot, there are no stop lights, and plenty of dirt roads. It is a place where children can play freely, cut off from the rest of the word, or so it can seem. I grew up there, and it will always be home to me, full of the love and support that I am thankful to have had.

         I’ve been privileged to have had some wonderful friends, all of whom helped me grow into the outspoken, passionate woman I am today. And part of that stems from having a deep love of people who are different from myself. I deeply enjoy looking into other cultures, ensuring that I have the best, most thorough information available, so that I can make that small town proud of the ways in which I impact my world. As an anthropology student, research into cultures and attitudes are kind of a requirement. So I took the time to do a little research on you, Mr. Sanders, and here is what I found out.

         You are a man of many skills: carpentry, film and legislation among them. You are devoted to your family, and all that you see morally astute. But do you know what I did not see, or at least, not on your website? I did not see a medical degree. And so it troubles me deeply that you went out of your way to say the following at the debate in Flint, Michigan:

“We are, if elected president, going to invest a lot of money into mental health. And when you watch these Republican debates, you know why we need to address the mental health.”

         You see, the media may have found that sound bite worthy of a chuckle, Secretary Clinton did as well, but for someone who works so hard at promoting equality amongst peoples, you have let down a very large, very important community. You may have made an offhanded comment about the opposing party, but you neglected to consider that the members of the mentally ill community may not have appreciated you including the Republican candidates into that group simply because some of the outrageous things which have come out of their mouths.

         I have been a proud advocate of mental health awareness, of mental illness equality and of breaking down stigmas associated with mental illnesses. But more than that, I am a member of that community that you so brazenly mocked. Some of the phrases you used last night were “lunatic”, “crazy person” and of course, the quote which I have mentioned above. You see, while it may be easy to openly criticize actions such as those of Mr. Trump mocking a physically disabled person, it is not as socially acceptable to openly discuss ways in which mental illnesses need to be treated with the same respect. 

         So here I am, Senator Sanders, a young woman from Ohio, asking you to consider the fact that while the words you speak may be coming from a well-intended place, you are furthering the stigmas and stereotypes which have plagued a branch of health and wellness for far too long. Instead of using the actions of the opposing party to get a few laughs, why don’t you focus on ways in which you will help the mental health community facilitate our own well-being in the face of misunderstanding and under-education. Perhaps then, you would be able to see why making jokes about mental health isn’t funny-it’s just plain rude.

         Thank you for your time.

Best,

Michelle Brewer-Bunnell

A Concerned Citizen

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All Eyes on Me

I was watching the debate last night (are you really that surprised?) and I noticed a very horrifying trend. I have watched almost all of the debates (I think I missed an early democrat one) and I have never been more appalled at the display I have witnessed this past week. I knew debates were a sheer and utter debacle, having witnessed 3 that I clearly remember. I wasn’t always aware of what the issues were (the first one I remember: I was 12) but I remember the ads and the ways that the candidates used low-ball tricks and schemes. I was a senior in high school during the campaign season for President Obama’s second term and although I had taken government, I was still only vaguely aware of “what it all meant” but again, I remember the attack ads and smear campaigns. So why was I so surprised this week?

I have decided that I will throw in a candidate from both parties who exemplify my concern for the direction of this election. Nominees for Ring Leader of the Circus of Politics are: Donald Trump (R) and Bernie Sanders (D). Now, I do not know these men, apart from what I can watch in the debates, but the issue I have with them this week is the wording that they chose to use during their discussions. I’ll start with Mr. Trump, because I have a feeling that will be a much shorter rant.

“I guarantee you, there’s no problem.” By now, I’m sure you all have seen memes or the debate itself where Mr. Trump inadvertently mentions his genetalia. Why is that an issue? Because he could be representing our country (or at the very least, for some of my readers, a country which affects yours) and he’s making penis jokes? At a presidential debate? On live TV? Without taking a hit in his numbers? In fact, his numbers literally just keep going up, apparently. Literally anything that comes out of his mouth is like a voter magnet. And that’s concerning on so many levels. I can only hope that if he in fact does become POTUS, that he will tone down his language and will be a morally upstanding citizen. Until then, I will continue to be horrified at the level of bigotry and racism and sheer ignorance spewing from that whole campaign.

Now on to Mr. Sanders. While I have not held many strong opinions about the democratic side, I must say, there were comments made last night that frustrated me to no end. And that’s the reason I decided to post this post today. It started out with Mr. Sanders throwing around the words “crazy” and “lunatic” as though they were common vernacular (and you could argue that they are) but the quote of the night that I bring forth is this:

“We are, if elected president, going to invest a lot of money into mental health. And when you watch these Republican debates, you know why we need to address the mental health.”

What. The. Heck. People give Donald Trump a lot of grief (and rightly so) for mocking an individual with a physical disability. But I just googled the quote (for accuracy’s sake) and people are laughing about it. People are making light of it. Are you kidding me?! Call me a little touchy on the subject, but since when did mental health become a laughing matter? And I plan on being a part of the government (judicial branch, mind you) some day, and I take great pride in being able-bodied with a beautifully divergent mind. In fact, that may be my tag line for election. If there were candidates with mental illnesses, can you imagine the uproar? How offensive that is? Because I can. I’m an individual who will be very affected by the changes in president and I am offended. I will not be taking any obnoxious steps to fix it (I’m not going to sue you, Mr. Sanders) but here’s what I will do. I will post a letter, detailing what it is that makes that quote so awful. I will post it here, and I will hope that maybe it reaches those who will understand my words to be true. And maybe then there will be some progress. Because one man’s ignorance is more than enough for me, but two men’s ignorance is something altogether too much.