In support of passionate, progressive politics

By KEITH CHATINOVER

Most of you probably think of Martha’s Vineyard as a summer paradise for the East Coast elite. In reality, this community that I call home faces a myriad of problems ranging from a lack of affordable housing to sea-level rise’s continuous assault on our shores. In 2018, I thought our County Commission, which was devoid of any members south of sixty years-old and known more for its dysfunction than anything else, could use a youthful, fresh presence to create the change and government transparency the Vineyard so badly needed. And so that year I ran for and won a seat on the Dukes County Commission.

In my campaign for elected office (as well as in my own political views more broadly), I was inspired first and foremost by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. I knew that I would be in for plenty of tough fights on the County Commission and these two politicians never backed away from a tough fight.

In 2016, I supported Sanders during his Presidential campaign. This time, I backed Warren, who I felt ran an unabashedly progressive, intersectional campaign focused on creating change through well thought-out, detailed plans on issues like climate change, LGBTQ+ rights and systemic racism. I also think that Sanders deserves an enormous amount of credit for mobilizing an entire generation of people who rightfully feel as though today’s politics don’t meet today’s challenges. The progressive moment that I am proud to be a small part of is better off because Sanders and Warren both ran spirited and uncompromising campaigns.

Now that Sanders has officially dropped out of the race, where do we go from here? I know that many of you are disappointed that Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee. So am I. He wasn’t my first choice. Or second. Or … you get the point. And his record and personal conduct leave many feeling understandably apathetic about supporting him. But unlike President Trump, he wouldn’t appoint grossly underqualified people to lifetime judgeships or put together such a grotesquely incompetent cabinet. And he certainly wouldn’t be the single most dangerous President any of us have ever seen. Our elections are choices between two candidates and Joe Biden is the candidate I choose. I hope you will, too. 

Instead of allowing yourself to become disillusioned by the prospect of a Biden candidacy, I challenge you to channel the disgust you might very well feel after this primary to motivate yourself. Get, or stay, involved. If the Presidential race doesn’t inspire you, find a local one that does. A plethora of other candidates, from school board to the U.S. Senate, need your help. As someone who is involved in the lowest rungs of government, I can tell you honestly that change is being made right now from the bottom up, not the other way around.

And if you’re still struggling to find a race that speaks to you, be the race. Run for office.

If you care about the place you call home, then you’re qualified to serve. Endless government experience is no match for a genuine, persistent desire to make your community better. Warren and Bernie embody that kind of politics every day, fighting uphill battles for everything from single-payer healthcare to Wall Street regulations. Change is only going to be made if our generation leads the way. If you really want to honor the progressive Presidential campaigns of this cycle, then you should vote for progress, incremental or revolutionary, up and down the ticket this November. Better yet, think about being one of those progressive candidates on your ballot.

Keith Chatinover is a member of the class of 2022.5