Bernie Sanders is doing his level best to make the case for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump to his supporters: A $15 minimum wage versus a Mexican wall, etc. At the same time, the political force he brought to the fore needs additional causes closer to its heart to maintain itself for the long run. After all, no candidate in recent memory had so steadfastly stressed his campaign not just being about him and the White House, but about a “political revolution” involving us all. The wait won’t be long, it turns out.
Reprising his presidential campaign’s opening statement: “Enough is enough. This country and our government belong to all of us, not just a handful of billionaires,” Sanders has announced plans to develop “Our Revolution,” an organization to activate, educate and recruit for the issues that built the campaign. This, less than a month since the termination of his presidential run.
This kind of effort is not without recent precedent. The 2004 Howard Dean presidential campaign led to the organization Democracy for America; Progressive Democrats of America has roots in the 2004 and 2008 Dennis Kucinich campaigns; and Jesse Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 runs created the Rainbow Coalition. (Even the Barack Obama campaign had Organizing for America, although it appears that organization’s lists got lost in a White House closet.) But none of these groups had the grassroots base of the Sanders campaign, with its 2 million individual donors — whose $27 contributions beat the rich guys at their own game — and its phoners and phone banks honeycombed throughout the nation.
The next steps are into unexplored political terrain — just like most everything up to now.
Sanders has explained his sense of his relationship with the Clinton candidacy as a “coalition” — where differences remained clear but were decidedly less than with the Trump candidacy — noting that such ventures are quite common in European politics. In tune with his take, European observers have frequently noted that the Sanders campaign introduced an element new to American politics but long familiar to them — a “social democratic” vote — which captured 45 percent of the elected Democratic National Convention slots nationwide and 47 percent of the California delegation’s.
Also European style is the nature of Sanders’ coalition, which is not just traditional allies with different priorities such as environmentalists and unions or feminists and racial justice activists, but a coming-together among groups with clearly defined political differences. These groups might actually be separate parties, if the United States had a parliamentary system (parties that might then form a coalition government following an election campaign).
But with the system we have — a winner-take-all American presidency, with no place for party coalitions — the Democratic Party will now contain new Sanders social democrats alongside traditional Clinton liberals.
This will not be easy. This is all new. And what I describe is but a piece of the picture. But this campaign has already found ways to challenge the billionaires’ rule like nobody thought we could. If you’re interested, Sanders will offer his idea for this new chapter in American politics in an Aug. 24 live stream video presentation. You can tune in at http://bit.ly/2b3ZbVA.
Tom Gallagher was an elected Bernie Sanders delegate from San Francisco’s 12th Congressional District. He is a past member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
ZNetwork is funded solely through the generosity of its readers.Donate
It is encouraging that Sanders will continue to politically organize under the loose banner of “revolution,” in a way that promises a good deal of independence from the Clinton campaign, while engaging his base. As Robin Hahnel wrote in an excellent piece posted to Znet earlier this month about the achievements of the Sanders’ campaign for left organizing:
“More than 13 million Americans voted for a candidate to be their President who labelled himself a democratic socialist, called for a political revolution, and financed his campaign exclusively with small contributions averaging $27 from over 230 thousand donors. Compared to how the left fared in any of the twelve previous presidential elections I have been eligible to vote in, this stands out as a MONSTROUS SUCCESS! Nobody in their wildest dreams, including the candidate and his team of advisors, imagined this would happen when they began.”
#1. Do you believe that there is such a thing as a shadow government or deep state that vets presidential candidates and sets the rules that marginalize the power that Americans have to affect domestic and foreign policy?
#2. Do you believe that it’s agenda is globalization?
#3. Do you believe that the deep state would permit a sitting president to undermine it’s agenda?
#4. Would you recognize the good cop / bad cop strategy if it were used on you?
#5. Do you believe that the candidate with the most money wins 94% of the time and that this fact is enough to destroy democracy and completely game the system in favor of those who have the most money?
#6. Do you believe that oligarchy and democracy are mutually exclusive?
#7. Do you believe that it is even feasible to work within this gamed system to take back power?
Bernie had a moment. It’s now gone. We were cheated AGAIN as we will be cheated by some new strategy in 2020. Maybe its time to get out of abused subject syndrome. We’re certainly not citizens. When we start complaining that Hillary is blowing off the party platform she’ll tell us that we just have to “make” her do the right thing. Where have we heard that before? It’ll all be on us. We’re just not working hard enough.
First, launching “Our Revolution” as an adjunct to the Democratic Party is a nonstarter. Second, what if Trump drops out of the race which is no longer unthinkable? Would this mean Bernie’s entire rationale for endorsing Trump immediately evaporates? Or would her and others do a quick twisting and turning recalibration? And why hasn’t he at least encouraged his supporters to vote for Jill Stein in safe states? I suspect we already know the disheartening rationale.
I assume you mean Sanders endorsement of Clinton. Considering that:
1. The next president will be either a Democrat or a Republican. The very “best” that Jill Stein’s presidential campaign can do if it does not adopt a safe-state strategy is cause the Republican to get elected to President.
2. Any Republican candidate that would replace Trump is still going to more detrimental to our interests and ability to move forward with organizing compared to Clinton.
3. Therefore, it is likely that Sanders will continue his endorsement of Clinton.
Yes, I do wish that Sanders would promote safe-state strategic voting, but now that the formerly independent Sanders has joined the Democratic Party, factors of “party unity” must be considered. Believe me, “party unity” is far worse in most other countries such as Canada or the UK.
Clinton, yet. Thanks for the correction. Groggy at 5 a.m.
Paul D, FYI- Sanders left the Democratic party with the quickness. He is back to being an independent.