Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Why we need to keep the candle burning for Bernie’s Political Revolution

     The problem with Bernie Sanders' Presidential candidacy is, how do we carry out his Political Revolution if he doesn’t win the Democratic nomination? Now that Hillary has won the New York Primary, it’s beginning to appear less likely that Bernie will become the Democratic Party nominee. If he runs as an Independent candidate for President, we can’t be sure he’ll win the Presidential election that way either. This is not pessimist thinking, nor is it defeatist thinking; this is practical thinking. It’s wise to plan for such a contingency.
     For the millions of Bernie supporters, Bernie is the Political Revolution. That’s why you don’t hear Bernie supporters making plans for what comes next for the Revolution should Bernie fail to become the Democratic nominee. Their overwhelming priority is getting Bernie elected President. Indeed, that should be their priority. Only with enough participation, effort and organization by a good many people can any movement have a reasonable chance of shaking up our rigged political system. Yet despite the monumental effort made by Bernie supporters on his behalf, it may not be enough. None of us have complete control over who becomes the nominee or the President. For example, we live in a country with a great many conservative and middle-of-the-road voters, and people who vote based simply on whether they like a candidate or not. Probably more important, the Political Establishment and the Citizens United Supreme Court decision have an enormous influence on who becomes President. This is what Bernie meant when he said the election system is rigged. Bernie has a chance to upset the odds against him because he’s so popular. Unfortunately the odds are still stacked against him. Because the outcome is to a large extent beyond our control, we’d be wise to organize and strategize to make sure that the Political Revolution remains a potent force in American politics after the Presidential election in November. If we work together to put pressure on Congress and the President to pass legislation that would be to our benefit rather than the corporations’, it essentially won’t matter who becomes President, or who serves in Congress. They would all be compelled to do our bidding.
     How can “We the People” intimidate the “Powers that Be” to do our bidding, rather than continuing to accept the unacceptable, when the vast majority of us feel powerless to take any kind of assertive action against the government? There are tried and true methods, all of which have been used during our lifetimes. They may take the form of strikes, as in worker strikes, boycotts, blogs, letter campaigns, and campaigning for progressive candidates. It can also start with activism by a child, such as when children have written letters to the President. The most important ingredient of a successful citizen action is determined action on the part of a truly united group of citizens. In other words: solidarity.
     When I canvassed by telephone, aka “phone banking”, for Bernie to NY voters, I spoke with a Kingston, NY voter named Gerald who didn’t want to consider the possibility that Bernie could lose the nomination. He told me his friends mentioned that possibility to him and he refused to talk about it with them. He suggested I visit his town’s progressive website called “”. This is a community effort to increase transparency and accountability on the part of the Kingston city government. I read much of the website and it appears to be a good forum for Kingston citizens to make their voices heard with their local government. Gerald wasn’t interested in joining a group dedicated to continuing Bernie’s political legacy.
     Most Bernie supporters I spoke with were like Gerald due to their lack of interest in maintaining involvement with the Political Revolution. They were either too busy or they don’t believe that a revolution can work unless started by a Presidential candidate. There were, however, several who were interested in learning more or getting more involved. A veteran who was upset with the way he was treated by the Government was especially interested.
     Here’s a blueprint of what we need to do to ensure that Bernie’s legacy has a lasting impact on the politics of the United States:
1. Request of the Bernie Sanders campaign that it make its database of Bernie supporters, as well as its voter intelligence and technology, available to other Bernie supporters;
2. Bernie supporters should be contacted by other Bernie supporters who wish to start revolutionary efforts in their own cities or communities;
3. Call ourselves “Bernie Sanders’ Political Revolution”, with Bernie’s permission of course, and with chapters in each city in the U.S.
4. Embrace a culture of community and solidarity, as these are the best ways to build a movement. See my blog entry entitled Is Community Networking More Beneficial Than Rugged Individualism?
5. Train ourselves in the teachings of other revolutionary leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and especially those of our founding fathers. I, for example, am reading A Benjamin Franklin Reader, by Walter Isaacson1.
6. Whatever is done to start a revolution must be non-violent.
7. You don’t have to have a socialist focus, but it would help.
8. Request that Bernie Sanders serve as a spokesperson for the movement.
9. Organize revolutionary activities on a consistent basis.
10. Alert the Media to any revolutionary activities your group undertakes. Maintain a high profile with the Media and the community, but make sure you’re prepared to take action first.
11. Maintain solidarity with other Bernie Sanders’ groups. Seek to expand your membership and influence.
12. Educate others in what you’re doing. Encourage others to become more assertive as citizens, and to demand more transparency and accountability from their Government. Because none of us have been brought up in a revolutionary era, many will need to take small steps before they can embrace the idea of starting a revolution.
13. Promote other candidates for public office like Bernie.

     This is not your forefathers’ country! We must adapt to the timid sort of democracy that has taken root in the U.S. due to the fear and docility of a good many U.S. citizens. The best we can do is to ignore those who are ignorant and establish our base of Bernie Sanders’ supporters and other bold US citizens, who are fed up with the status quo, into a political powerhouse, one that’s impossible for a Donald Trump, a Hillary Clinton or for every member of Congress to take for granted. Those who are ignorant or skeptical at first will join your cause once you become established. Feel the Bern!

1 Isaacson, Walter. A Benjamin Franklin Reader. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003.

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