My guest today is Stephen Fox, former editor of the New Mexico Sun News, frequent contributor at OpEdNews and host of a new Facebook group, Bernie Sanders: Advice and Strategies to Help Him Win!
Joan Brunwasser: Welcome to OpEdNews, Stephen. Where did this idea for a FaceBook group come from?
Stephen Fox: I started the group on March 16, the day after Bernie "lost" five primaries, on March 15 (Missouri, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina and Florida). I had been integrally involved in several winning campaigns for the US Senate here in New Mexico, so involved that I was able to give some very effective strategic advice to some winners, as well as conducting several art auctions for one present US Senator and one who retired after 30 years in the Senate.
I felt strongly that Bernie needed advice, as so many of his opponent's operatives are highly experienced, and while as eloquent and full of solutions as Bernie is, his supporters have to be more than a cheering section saying Hooray for our side, and clicking like on Facebook.
I did feel and still feel that Facebook groups are a marvelous innovation and that they have been utilized brilliantly in and by the Sanders' supporters. I am in several hundred, some with as many as 400,000 members, as is OpEdNews publisher Rob Kall. He uses these groups probably more effectively than I do.
Facebook has some odd moments when posting to groups is arbitrarily and capriciously restricted, but aside from such constitutional abrogations of free speech, all in all, Facebook has had a tremendously positive and permanent effect on Democratic party politics. When I started my group, I began with a thanks to Mark Zuckerberg in the opening purpose statement, about which I feel even stronger now.
JB: Okay, you've set the stage, Stephen. What kind of strategies are you suggesting that Sanders use against Hillary's operatives?
SF: A lot of the strategies we came up with weren't used, in fact. But some were, and I by no means take credit for any successes. That was the whole purpose of the group, for a real exchange of ideas. Many of my suggestions were obvious ones, like speaking to large groups in arenas, like challenging her record as Secretary of State in the foreign policy realm. I suggested using terms like "unmitigated hawk," but that didn't happen. I suggested to members of my group and many many others, totaling more than 500 Facebook groups, that they send their ideas directly to the campaign to the press secretary, Symone Sanders, to the campaign manager, Jeff Weaver; and to the campaign advisor, Tad Devine; and after New York's debacle, directly to the campaign lawyer, Brad Deutsch in Washington D.C.
I believe too much in participatory democracy, I suppose. Most Americans do in theory but have forgotten or never learned how and why to participate.
The one suggestion I made repeatedly involved what I call the Battle of the Editorial pages. Bernie should ask his supporters henceforth between now and the General Election to record their thoughts on editorial pages not just in their hometown and local papers, but extend that to their entire state and to national publications as well.
I even suggested to Bernie and to his staff several times that newspapers everywhere would publish his opinion-editorial pieces in toto and frequently, not a way of reaching many older fence sitters, but a way to save money on later advertising. He did something like this on the subject of fracking, why he opposed it and how his opponent spent part of her SoS tenure promoting fracking in other nations, and this was published with great effect and benefits in USA Today, America's largest circulating newspaper.
I wish his supporters had more of a sense of the entire campaign and how his winning will depend on lots of people pulling, making polite calls to editors, asking for specific coverage to be increased. I DO NOT mean phone banking, an antiquated, ineffectual, and intrusive practice which I personally don't believe in.
There is also a tendency in Facebook groups to preach to the choir, and I have written to groups about this hundreds of times: don't just sit around and jaw cleverly with each other but reach out to fence sitters, get them off the fence, and let's win this.
As the campaign shifted to recognizing more and more documented fraud and those "irregularities" euphemistically referred to by the newspapers, there were plenty of howls and anger and new groups formed, but with a few exceptions, little done to decertify phony election results. That, in fact, as I have recommended to some key Sanders advisers, may yet take place, after this last big primary day on June 7, with Bernie himself leading the charge and taking as much as 90 minutes to detail the dirty tricks by his opponent and even more by the DNC.