Does anyone know why “bleeding heart” is an insult? I think it’s a badge we Democrats should wear proudly. I have to say that the reason I’ve become so involved with Virginia politics this year is that the people I’ve met–both those vying to hold office and many of those already holding office, are truly bleeding heart liberals. And in the face of what we see in Washington, and what we saw in the 2016 elections, there’s nothing more inspiring to me than to know these bleeding hearts.
I’ve had countless late-night conversations with so many of our candidates, after they’ve heard devastating stories of loss and suffering from constituents that day on the campaign trail. I’ve seen DREAMers hug Mark Herring so hard, thanking him for helping them. I’ve heard incumbent delegates talk about constituents they were able to help with problems. I’ve seen candidates who desperately need to spend every second on their campaigns take time out anyway to help someone else, even anonymously. I’ve seen candidates who desperately need funds for their campaigns, give their money to help first responders in Charlottesville, to people affected by hurricanes, and to other needy causes. Above all, I’ve exchanged long messages back and forth with candidates and even incumbents about the difficult problems we face, the injustices some of our fellow Virginians suffer, the desperate needs many of them have, and our search for solutions.
I was raised to be deeply cynical of politics and politicians, and until this year, I never had much cause to question that. But the bleeding hearts I’ve come to know put my cynicism to shame.
The latest example came last night, when Steve McBride, candidate for the House of Delegates in district 8, messaged me, asking if he could give me a call. He and I have chatted quite a bit about the power of the Relay texting program that our campaigns have been using this election season. Although I tease him for being asked the funniest questions (Will he keep his beard if he wins?), I also know that he’s had some great exchanges with voters.
Steve called last night to tell me that he’d had a conversation with a voter who was a Veteran, and struggling to get medical care for PTSD. He was on some kind of a waiting list. And as Steve texted back and forth with him, he started to worry about this voter’s mental health, and whether he might have any self-harm tendencies. So Steve offered to give this man’s information to Democratic Promise–a new project that is the brainchild of an utterly bleeding heart, Delegate Sam Rasoul. And then, he gave the man his personal cell phone. And told him to please call him if he needed to talk for any reason. Because Steve’s bleeding heart was suffering, worrying about this man.
Steve got a call from the man a couple days later. It was a good call. The man had gotten his benefits secured. And he told Steve how much it meant to him that he had cared enough to spend that time texting with him, and that he’d given him his cell phone number.
And you know what? We are the PARTY that cares! We ARE the bleeding hearts. And I for one am damn proud of it!