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What’s Next For The Bernie Sanders Revolution?

Campaign 2016 Congress Elections Headlines Memo Pad Politics

What’s Next For The Bernie Sanders Revolution?

Supporters cheer as U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses supporters following the closing of the polls in the California presidential primary in Santa Monica, California

As we approach the upcoming Democratic convention, let’s look back at the race… and forward to the future.

The mainstream media tried to reduce the two Democratic campaigns as a Hillary v. Bernie war. The reality, though, is that most Sanders backers were enthusiastic precisely because his campaign’s purpose was far bigger than the usual personality politics. Supporters were signing up for a revolution against corporate rule.

To achieve this, we have to keep mobilizing for a truly democratic movement, and this is much harder than one presidential run. Sanders and close advisors are strategizing to help grow the grassroots rebellion — from school boards to Congress. This new coordinating effort will build on the framework and momentum of the campaign.

Outside of Sanders’ circle, a multitude of Bernie supporters are not waiting on a smoke signal from headquarters. With the primaries over and the convention starting, a mushrooming, percolate-up creativity has already burst into new organizing projects that are advancing this energized populist movement. Here are just two examples:

The People’s Summit. In the world of politics-as-usual, a losing candidate’s supporters just drift away, but All-Things-Sanders tend to be unusual. So, on June 17, just three days after the final Democratic primary, some 3,000 Berniecrats from all across America gathered in a Chicago convention center to “Keep the Bern Alive.” Rather than being morose or cynical about Sanders not winning the nomination, attendees were exuberant about the future and the movement that he galvanized. This extraordinary, uplifting event was a combination of tent revival and workshops for serious strategizing and organizing, and was rightly labeled a “Festival of Joyous Rebellion.” The two-day summit was convened by National Nurses United (a scrappy, aggressively progressive union) and co-sponsored by more than 50 diverse and effective democracy-building groups.

This meeting had a minimum of blah-blah and a maximum of planning on how to put experienced, locally-based organizers and volunteers directly into growing the movement — starting now. These ever-larger and broader local coalitions will: (1) be rooted in principled, anti-corporate politics; (2) launch direct grassroots initiatives and actions on a range of populist issues; (3) recruit, train, and elect thousands of movement candidates to school boards, city councils, state legislatures, and other offices; (4) deepen the relationships and sense of shared purpose in this revolutionary democratic movement. And (5) — Make it fun — putting the “party” back in politics. www.thepeoplessummit.org

Brand New Congress. What if progressive organizers and volunteers joined forces to run a nationwide campaign to replace today’s corporate-owned congress — all at once? Yes, one sweeping campaign to oust all incumbents of either party who owe their jobs to the Big Money powers. Those congress critters, feeling snug in their gerrymandered rabbit holes, could be outed by hundreds of coordinated, Brand New Congress campaigns running simultaneously in every state. Each local campaign would back candidates publicly pledged to fight for an agenda of economic, social, environmental, and political justice.

Impossible? Not in the minds of Zach Exley, Becky Bond and other former Sanders staffers who conceived and implemented this campaign’s successful grassroots model that Exley calls “distributed organizing.” They trained and empowered tens of thousands of far-flung volunteers to be autonomous organizers, digitally linked into a nationwide network, eliminating the need and cost of a rigid hierarchy of “leaders” to boss volunteers, recognizing instead that volunteers themselves are leaders — in churches, clubs, workplaces, community groups, etc. Now they’re applying this model to Brand New Congress that will carry the message of authentic populism and a shared agenda of populist policy proposals.

BNC is to be a true bi-partisan effort, running Dems in blue districts, Repubs in solid red ones, and independents whereever that makes sense. But wait — how can BNC get Republican candidates to run on progressive values? By recognizing that true populism is neither a right or left theory, but a top vs. bottom reality that even middle-class and lower-income Republicans can relate to. (Note: In Vermont, which often elects Republican governors, Sanders won 71 percent of the vote in his last Senate race). Indeed, outside of the right-wing Congress, many rank-and-file Republicans would support stopping global trade scams and crony-capitalism corruption, as well as assuring health care for all, recognizing climate change, and standing up to bigotry.

Bernie has urged his supporters to keep pushing for their democratic ideals. “Real change never takes place from the top down. It always occurs from the bottom on up — when tens of millions of people say ‘enough is enough’ and become engaged in the fight for justice. That’s what the political revolution we helped start is all about. That’s why the political revolution must continue.”


Photo: Supporters cheer as Bernie Sanders addresses supporters following the closing of the polls in the California presidential primary in Santa Monica, California, June 7, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower is a nationally syndicated columnist and one of America's most prominent progressive voices. His column carried by more than 75 publications across the country. Prior to becoming a writer, Hightower served as Texas Agricultural Commission from 1982 to 1991.

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  1. FireBaron July 21, 2016

    The only person who refused to recognize this as a movement was Senator Sanders. While I did support him, and still believe he would have been a better Presidential candidate AND President than my party’s nominee, he never harnessed this movement in a way that would have propelled him to victory. Instead of telling his supporters to play by the rules, he encouraged their “independence”, forgetting that the Party System is like a closed club. If you aren’t a member, you aren’t allowed to pick the Officers.

    1. Independent1 July 23, 2016

      I guess I’m surprised you believe Bernie would have been a better president than Hillary. Given that given the time he was in Congress he effectively accomplished very little because he was clearly not a team player. And that was made pretty clear, when more than 40 senators endorsed Hillary and only one endorsed Bernie. And that included the other Independent in the Senate, Angus King who endorsed Hillary.

      Those endorsements say a lot – his peer senators clearly didn’t endorse Bernie because Bernie WAS NOT the progressive that apparently you and many others believed him to be; Bernie is really as big a narcissist as Trump. If he can’t get his way in a piece of legislation, he not only wouldn’t vote for it, he would actually work to subvert it as he did when Hillary tried to get healthcare enacted in the 1990s.

      So given that he was not a team, and not thought of very highly by the Democrats that he worked with; I’m puzzled as to how you and many others can think that he would have been very effective in the Oval Office. My sense is he would have been a disaster.

  2. Donna7687 July 21, 2016

    I get paid close to $6k-$8k every month doing an online job. Those who are willing to work easy computer-based jobs for few hrs each day from your living room and make solid payment for doing it… Then this gig is for you… http://self92.com

  3. Rhonda July 21, 2016

    No u never him supported laughing gop have fun with that

    1. CrankyToo July 21, 2016


      It’s hard to tell where you’re coming from, but you sure do communicate like a Republican. Which side are you on? Help me Rhonda….

  4. TheShapeOfThings July 21, 2016

    Well some of us would love to join the moment us and history making wave of people voting for boobs, the good king for a change. Since there is a nice progressive liberal on the ticket that is clearly female, its,all over but the voting for me.


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