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Our Revolution: Yes; But First Some Questions

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Will the final decisions be made by Senator Sanders, the Board, its chair, the president, a staff group, a referendum of the members? How heavily will the decisions be influenced by major donors (if any)? Or will there be no such decisions? Will Our Revolution simply accept nominations from any of the above, put together a little information about each, post them on the Web site (as now), and leave it to members and donors to do the due diligence, and then put their time and money wherever they choose?

Or will there be a consensus as to who will receive Our Revolution's support, and will the goal be to limit the number of candidates to a number that can be supported (with workers and money) sufficiently to make a real difference in the outcome of their election? Will there be a preference for first-time candidates -- or for progressive incumbents in close races?

Will there be a preference for candidates whose polling numbers and other evidence indicate a real chance of winning, or is the goal to provide at least some token support and encouragement to as many first-time progressives as possible?

What are the standards for deciding who is a "true progressive" worthy of Our Revolution's support?

Coalitions. Is it the goal of Our Revolution to be recognized as the single, preeminent, progressive policy and political organization in America? Or is the goal to bring some order and focus (on, say, electing progressive candidates) to the sometime chaos of America's progressive individuals, organizations, and media?

As the old saying has it, "There's no limit to what you can accomplish if you're willing to let others take the credit." Will Our Revolution be willing to stand by while "others take the credit"?

We've seen what splintered, underfunded, off-again-on-again efforts produce. What might a true coalition, a United Nations-style effort, be able to produce? What goals might be shared across all progressive organizations -- as was sort of the case with the coming together that was the Senator Sanders' presidential campaign -- while still leaving each organization to pursue its own other issues and strategic choices? (See, e.g., Nicholas Johnson, "Bernie's Extraordinary, Unacknowledged Accomplishment," February 3, 2016.)

The Money. I would be stunned if there was anything even mildly inappropriate, let alone illegal, in the way the money was handled in the Bernie Sanders campaign. But I also think transparency is even more important for Our Revolution. So I ask the following questions:

One of the most valuable assets of the campaign, and could be for Our Revolution, is the campaign's mailing list of donors, volunteers, and supporters. Has it been made available to the DNC, Hillary Clinton's campaign, other candidates? Are there plans to do so in the future? Who now has access to copies of this list? Will it become the main list for Our Revolution?

How much campaign money was left on July 26 -- the formal end of the Bernie for President campaign? What has happened to it? Has any gone to the Clinton campaign? The DNC, or other groups funding Democratic candidates (chosen by someone other than Senator Sanders)? How much has gone to candidates Senator Sanders supports? Is any used for his expenses while campaigning for Clinton? How much (if any) will ultimately be transferred into Our Revolution's resources?

Transparency. Transparency is important for any organization that requires the trust and support of its stakeholders. This is especially true for non-profit, progressive organizations. Members (and the public) need to know where Our Revolution's money is coming from, and what it's going to. Our Revolution needs to comply with the standards used by those evaluating non-profits. (A Google search on "evaluations of non-profit organizations' fundraising and salary expenses" brings up over 3.5 million hits.)

How do the salaries of Our Revolution administrators and staff, and expenses for Board meetings, compare with organizations of similar size? How do its expenses for fundraising, as a percentage of money raised, compare?

For Our Revolution, salaries and benefit packages are relevant to stakeholders not only because some may consider them "too high," but more likely because they might be thought to be "too low" -- given our "Issues" that focus on "Income Inequality," "A Living Wage," and "Creating Decent Paying Jobs."

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Nicholas Johnson is best known for his tumultuous seven-year term as a Federal Communications Commission commissioner (1966-1973), while publishing How to Talk Back to Your Television Set, 400 separate FCC opinions, and appearing on a Rolling (more...)

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