If one accepts that Bernie did not run third party, for whatever reason, I think he has played this as perfectly as he could, navigating between on the one hand his followers, who are looking for deep reform if not revolution, and on the other hand the Democratic establishment, who still have their hands on many of the levers of power.
Where are we putting our energy now? What projects, aimed at this election and/or past November are we investing in?
- Brand New Congress
- Our Revolution
- http://berniecrats.net/ and http://reddit.com/r/political_revolution
- Millennials March - http://millennialsmarch.com/
Also newish but less directly related to Bernie's run:
- Democracy Awakening, Democracy Spring
(Below, written at the beginning of 2016:)
Whether you support Bernie Sanders, or another (or no) candidate, his call for "Political Revolution" should be of interest to everyone. It is his term for, among other things, a massive increase in grassroots activism and citizen engagement, to apply pressure on Congress between elections, and elect new candidates to Congress as necessary & possible, so that we can achieve substantial progress. Obviously he is specifically calling for this to support getting his proposals passed and progressive change generally, but everyone can get behind the idea of an engaged people. (Even anarchists want to see people engaged, just not with the government.)
Here are two of the best clips I have found of Bernie talking about it — the relevant parts are just 2-3 minutes long. Transcripts and more are below, including a space at the end for your comments, which I would love to read!
In the Afterword of Sanders' book, Outsider in the White House, John Nichols quotes the candidate saying (emphasis mine):
When I talk about a political revolution, what I am referring to is the need to do more than just win the next election, It's about creating a situation where we are involving millions of people in the process who are not now involved, and changing the nature of media so they are talking about issues that reflect the needs and the pains that so many of our people are currently feeling... A campaign has got to be much more than just getting votes and getting elected. It has got to be helping to educate people, organize people.
From a May 2015 "Ask Me Anything" with Bernie Sanders, on Reddit (emphasis mine):
The only way we deal with the major issues facing our country…is when ordinary people put massive pressure on the Congress…. Nothing will change unless millions of people demand it and that's what this campaign is all about -- mobilizing people at the grassroots level.
In the closing of a sit-down talk on November 19, 2015 at Georgetown University:
So when I talk about the political revolution, when I talk about transforming American politics, what I am talking about is bringing in the voices of millions and millions of people who have given up on the political process, to have their views and their needs being heard by Congress.
When that happens, everything that I talked about will be passed. If that does not happen, virtually nothing will be passed.
So what this campaign from my perspective is about and I say this in every speech that I give, it’s not just electing Bernie Sanders to be president. I surely would appreciate your support. (laughter) But, very honestly, it is much more than that because no president — not Bernie Sanders or anybody else — can implement the kinds of changes we need in this country, unless millions of people begin to stand up and fight back.
And I think right here, on college campuses all over this country, we're begining to see that fight back. We're beginning to see that fight back among low-wage workers, who are going out into the streets, and saying, "Y'know what, we can't make it on eight or nine bucks an hour, raise the minimum wage to fifteen bucks an hour." We are beginning to see that movement develop, and I hope you will be part of the movement. Because if you are, we can in fact transform this country. Thank you all very much.
The power of the grassroots
(December 23, 2015 — emphasis Bernie's)
Things have always changed in America from the grassroots on up, from the bottom on up! If you look at civil rights, if you look at women's rights, if you look at gay rights, if you look at the environmental struggle. All of these changes took place not from the president of the United States or the Congress, but grassroots movements where millions of people demanded change.
Right now - give you some examples - I believe that over a period of a few years we should raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour, a living wage. If I had said that five years ago here, you would have thought I was nuts! But what happened is all over this country, people working in the fast food industry — McDonald's, Burger King — they got out on the street, they stood up, they protested, went out on strike. They said, 'We can't live on seven and a quarter or eight bucks an hour. Raise the minimum wage!' Then Seattle raised the minimum wage, 15 bucks an hour. San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York State considering it. It starts at the bottom, it moves on up. And we will raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour, because millions of working people are demanding that we do that.
And ultimately that is how change comes about. When millions of young people are saying, "We don't want to be in debt for our whole life because we have chosen to get a higher education," on that day, Congress will pass legislation making public colleges and universities tuition-free.
When senior citizen are saying by the millions — as they are beginning to say — 'We can't make it economically on 12, 13 thousand dollars a year. You're not going to cut social security, you're going to expand social security benefit,' on that day, we expand social security benefits.
So to answer your question, what I mean by a political revolution, is mobilizing millions of people to stand up for their rights, and to give Congress an offer they can't refuse. And that is, if Congress does not do what the American people need to be done, then members of Congress are going to join the unemployment line in America.
What it actually looks like
(October 18, 2015 — emphasis Bernie's)
And what our job is, and this is why I say this all the time, and let me say it to you: I'm here not just to ask for your help to get me elected President, to help me win here in Iowa. I'm asking for your help the day after the election. Because unless you are actively involved in the political process, we will not bring about the real changes that we want.
So, to answer Louise's question, alright, how do you go forward? What we do is you put an issue before Congress, let's just use, uh, free tuition at public colleges and universities. And that vote is going to take place on November 8, whatever it may be. We tell millions and millions of people, young people and their parents, there is going to be a vote. Half the people don't know what is going on. But we tell them when the vote is. Maybe we welcome a million young people to Washington, D.C. to say hello to their members of Congress. Maybe we have the telephones and the emails flying all over the place, so that everybody in America will know how their representative is voting.
What I can tell you, Louise, is these guys get away with murder. They vote for things and nobody-- media doesn't report it. Give you just one example, I'm the ranking member on the budget committee, that's the leader of the Democrats. What the Republicans did is voted to throw 27 million people off of health care in their budget. They voted to cut Pell Grants by 90 billion dollars. They voted to cut nutrition programs by many many billions of dollars, and then they voted to give huge tax breaks to the top 2/10 of one percent. Louise, do you think anybody in America knows that? Do you think one percent of the Amer-- media didn't write it, forgot to write it. Alright.
But a President with the bully pulpit, trust me, will get that word out. And then Republicans are gonna to have to make a decision. (applause) Then they're gonna have to make a decision. Y'know, when thousands of young people in their district are saying, 'you vote against this, you're out of your job. Because we know what's going on.'
So this gets back to what a political revolution is about, is making, bringing people in touch with the Congress. Not having that huge wall. That's how you bring about change.
And here's the good news. On major issue after major issue, the American people are on our side. I don't want any of you to think that you are courageous, and heroic people taking on the system. Every idea that I've talked about, is supported by the vast majority of the American people. How many people do you think, believe that we should give huge tax breaks to billionaires, and cut Social Security? (laughter) Well, I don't know if it's one percent, five percent, ten percent - they are a very small minority. Okay? People are on our side! But if they don't vote, if they're not involved in the political process, it doesn't matter what their views are, no one pays attention to them. They will pay attention to Wall Street, and their SuperPAC funders. That's how we bring about change.
That's not easy, I mean this is not easy stuff! But that is exactly what I mean by a political revolution.