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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/5/16

Let Us Not Fail Bernie Sanders

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Message Michael Blecher

It has been some time since I have written an article on this site. However, I felt the need to write this article because I am afraid that too many of us are failing Bernie Sanders without even realizing it. Bernie Sanders recently gave a speech recently in New York City. He made two points about the movement going forward that I think can't be amplified enough. He said he doesn't want this political revolution to be about him. The second point he made was how he wants more of us running for local office. At the end of his speech, he even mentioned how we should not be intimidated to run for office; we do not need some great level of expertise to run. We just need to take initiative. You can watch his full speech here.

Many of us have not heard Bernie's message. People have spent time obsessing over the fact Bernie Sanders recently said he would endorse Hillary Clinton if or when he lost; some of his supporters were outraged and suggested him of selling out. Other supporters have suggested it was an unfair attack on him because he was given a hypothetical question. In truth, his answer to this question doesn't matter. A social and political revolution will not occur, no matter who becomes our next president, unless we get involved and stay involved. Change only comes when each of us become politically engaged at a level no one has ever seen before. This has been Bernie's message since day 1. There are some of us who have taken the next step, running for office at a local level but too many of us are still fixating on the world of social media, focusing on election fraud or individual scuffles.

We can march and yell and vent all we want, but history has shown us that change requires coordination, organization, hard-work and sacrifice. It is easy for us to march for Bernie Sanders, or to throw rallies for open primaries or for climate change. It is easy for us to attend speeches and hear celebrities express their love for Bernie Sanders while we nod our heads and applaud. It easy for us to take the Bernie or Bust pledge on the internet.

Our fight is not going to be an easy fight. Both of the major parties are incredibly unified, organized and incredibly efficient at assuring the power they hold is not disrupted. The important work we do is taking the time to go door to door to build relationships with voters who may not share our values, becoming an expert on the way local politics operate, infiltrating the system. The hard part is learning about the way your county, city or state party committees operate and appreciating the complexities and nuances that exist in winning elections. Bernie Sanders understands this; he realizes that the changes we seek will take work and time; Change will not come from one election, hashtag, or march. It will come through long-term commitment, and a wiliness to continue fighting despite how demoralized we may feel some days, or how uphill the battle may seem.

There are organizations that have the goal of retaking Congress all at once, making it more progressive than it has ever been. However, winning such seats is a tall order. They do not have some tiny paid staff where this will be some easy task. Heck, even winning a race for state assembly will require a great deal of work. A week ago, various congressional primaries were held in New York State, and Berniecrats lost badly. Even with Bernie's endorsement, Eric Kingston was no match for the establishment in Congressional District 24. Sadly, the only person who won their primary was someone who had a lot of name recognition, and was a huge favorite to win already--Zephyr Teachout.

Months ago, I was writing articles, some of which went viral. I wrote about everything from my contempt for Hillary Clinton to why Bernie Sanders is more electable than Hillary Clinton. But I quickly realized that the activism I was engaging in wasn't true activism -- that I could write article after article expressing my love for Bernie, but it has no significant effect on the outcome of the election. Instead, I started taking on an active role. I started phone banking, petitioning to get Bernie Sanders on the NYS ballot, canvassing, hosting meetings, traveling to various states to volunteer for the campaign; I even created a guide for Bernie Sanders supporters. And I started listening, learning and reading all I could. I became close to experienced community organizers like Donnie Whitehead, extraordinary Bernie Sanders volunteers and staff, experienced political consultants, political strategists, third-party officials, established fundraisers, etc. Of course, I also made enemies along the way, confronting those who I felt cared more about their own name recognition than about getting Bernie elected.

Nonetheless, being involved and befriending so many incredible people has given me such a large scope of knowledge; knowledge which will only expand by finishing books like Lee Staples' Roots to Power, Saul Alinsky's Rules For Radicals and continuing to collaborate with others more experienced than myself. With the collaboration of a former campaign official, I have decided to use our knowledge to create an organization Bernie Sanders could take pride in. Politics Reborn is an organization that will not treat Bernie Sanders like a messiah, nitpicking the things he says and doesn't say; instead, Politics Reborn will focus on the very things Bernie Sanders WANTS US, THE MOVEMENT, TO CONTINUE

We are going to encourage and support as many people as possible to run for local office. In particular, we are going to change the power of the two party system by targeting people few are even aware of -- the county, city and state committees. It is an idea that has already been endorsed by Noam Chomsky. You can find more information about the power of these groups here, here and here. The truth is these types of groups exist everywhere. Bernie Sanders understands this and he wants people like us to run.

We are going to cultivate community organizers, canvass and collect data all year round, implement economic boycotts and confrontational protests, vet and endorse courageous progressives and litigate against the establishment. We are going to teach ordinary citizens everything from digital marketing to fundraising. In simplest terms, this is an organization whose members will not consume their time on social media or talking without engaging in action.

In the most vulgar terms -this is an organization that will get sh*t done.

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Michael Blecher was working as a research assistant at several psychology labs before becoming a political activist. He canvassed in six different states for the Bernie Sanders' campaign, and his activism has been covered in The Village Voice (more...)

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