I’ve already mentioned the habit of seeing everything through an electoral frame. Bernie lost, Hillary won, Bernie’s been insufficiently magnanimous, Bernie’s followers are going to make a mess in Philadelphia, Bernie lost so his people roll over, we should make nice with his people, ho hum. I’ve moved past that. The election will be over in November. Most Bernie supporters will vote Democrat. I’m interested in where the movement goes.
A friend asked me how organizing should be done, and I had to confess I didn’t really know. It isn’t my wheelhouse. My best guess is, build the email list, raise money, rally behind progressive issues, start local political clubs, support local and state candidates, and most important, do not dissolve into Hillary’s Democratic Party apparatus. Basically the job is to build a new party that runs as Democrats and gets strong enough to take over the DNC, root and branch.
I have to laugh when I read that Bernie isn’t a Democrat. Can you actually join the Democratic Party? Is there a place you can go and commune with party members, discuss policy, propose directions for the party? You can certainly get on their fundraising lists. You can answer one of their jive surveys, your answers to which will feed their micro-targeting of you for contributions. You can volunteer for grunt work during actual election campaigns. There is a brand controlled by an elite, but for the rank-and-file person, there is no there there. There is no party life outside of donating money and volunteering during elections. The conventions are a joke.
I referenced previous upsurges. You can’t push a button and make these happen. You can take advantage of them when they bust out, support them, try to guide them to something greater. You can get behind more narrow campaigns, of which there are plenty.
Presently we have a constellation of groups that ought to be the basis for a new, united effort. There is Democracy for America, Democratic Socialists of America, MoveOn, Progressive Democrats of America, Black Lives Matter, Americans for Democratic Action (my old group, solid for Bernie this year), and of course the Sanders campaign itself. There have been huge gatherings around issues of climate change and world poverty, among others. Put these together and you have something really powerful. Of course, all sorts of logistical, political, and ego issues are in the way. But the potential is there.