Trust and sincerity.
Those are the two words that come to mind when trying to describe the impact of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as a presidential contender. After all, it takes a lot of trust in a candidate to open up your home to complete strangers for the sole purpose of gathering around a computer screen to hear a 10-minute message from a presidential candidate followed by directions on how to get directly involved in his campaign.
But that’s exactly what Steven Miller did one week ago.
And it was his belief in the sincerity of Sanders’ message that led him to do it.
Miller hosted a small gathering of folks at his home Wednesday as a part of the nationwide volunteer kick-off of Sanders’ “Bernie for President” campaign. His small gathering of 12 people was one of 30 similar get-togethers throughout central Indiana. Folks gathered in homes, restaurants and bars to hear how they could become a part of Sanders’ “political revolution.”
“I moved to town three weeks ago,” explained Miller when asked why he agreed to host a gathering. “When I looked for a local meeting and saw there wasn't one within 10 or so miles, it seemed obvious that someone
should have one. I'm someone.”
Miller’s new Hoosier home was limited on space but he made room available for up to 11 people. All of the reservations were filled and all 11 people showed up. Once everyone had arrived, there were formal introductions with each person telling a bit about himself or herself. Tom, the oldest participant in the group, admitted he always votes Republican. Angie, one of the youngest, introduced herself as a socialist.
(It almost sounded like the setup to a joke: “A Democrat, a Republican and a Socialist gather in living room to talk about politics…”)
The group gathered around two computer screens to watch Sanders’ presentation. It didn’t last long. The entire presentation was under 30 minutes and Sanders only spoke for about a third of that time. But his message resonated with the people gathered in Miller’s home.
Sanders spoke about the need for a “political revolution” and his message resonated with the folks in Miller’s living room. One person was somewhat disappointed that Sanders’ speech was so short, but Miller understood.
“The important lesson for tonight is that all of us were the main event. That's how grassroots organizing works,” said Miller. “In contemporary politics, it's so easy to think that one person doesn't really matter. But when that one person gets together with ten more, and when those eleven are part of tens of thousands ... well, that many people can make a huge difference.”
As a host, Miller considered his gathering to be successful with all attendees thankful for the experience.
“I'm excited that people believe in Bernie. He's been saying this stuff for years, and he's ‘unbought,’” said Miller. “It's clear that he doesn't let polling drive his positions, and he's not afraid to be explicit about his ideas. Sincerity may be the cure for our nation's political apathy.”
Miller is no stranger to grassroots campaigns and being a “soldier on the ground” for a cause. He’s been active in local politics throughout his adult life and in 2008 he went door-to-door for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Missouri. He is excited about Bernie Sanders in the same vein and is looking forward to helping get his message out in the Hoosier state.
“Tonight Indiana showed that its Bernie-supporters are both excited and committed,” said Miller. “There's much work to do in getting past [Hillary] Clinton's name recognition, but we've still got months to go.”