My hero is Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders is someone who fights for the people, the people who need to be fought for because their problems are staggering and their opponents are institutional. He doesn’t have to do this- he could be like any other politician, looking out solely for his own interests, with just enough concern for his constituents to get re-elected each cycle.

I have to imagine the traits I admire in Bernie Sanders today were forged in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, as he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington. Not many species of animals have empathy, and humans are one of the few. However, although we might all start with some base levels of empathy, empathy like this, the willingness to fight and battle and struggle for something you have no personal stake in, is a level of empathy that is not at all standard in humanity.

Bernie’s greatest weakness may be his own influence. In his primary run, he brought out a lot of fire and passion in a lot of people. He said the things they’ve been yearning to hear, and he was the only one doing it. But, unfortunately, he lost the primary, and some of the same people he fired up now refuse to vote for anyone but him, displaying a complete disregard for not only Bernie’s own words, but also his ethos. It’s hard to say if this was a failing with him- maybe if his rhetoric had been different things wouldn’t be this way, maybe there is nothing he could have done, I don’t know.

He’s not as fantastical as a movie hero, he isn’t destroying a world-ending ring or killing the Bad Guys, but his compassion and ability to stand up for what is right truly inspires me. In our modern America, it’s all too easy to be consumed with cynicism, but, to me, Bernie Sanders serves as a light in our political darkness.