Bernie Sanders has lowered the curtain on the last act of the Bernie Sanders Show. He has done what was clearly in the works for weeks – issued a formal endorsement of Hillary Clinton. And with the show now closed, Sanders’ supporters – at least some of them — will have to draw some hard conclusions. “What is left?” they should be asking themselves. “Was it ever really anything more than a political campaign? What of the ‘political revolution’?” Most important of all, what should be asked is “what sort of organization was built through the Sanders campaign? In what way has the Sanders campaign helped us organize better to fight Corporate America?”
The fact is that his campaign did not. On the contrary, just as Sanders has vowed to do all along*, he is seeking to strengthen the Democratic Party.
Like Water Sinking Into the Sand
It is understandable that those new to the struggle, especially the younger generation, would be taken in by some of Sanders radical rhetoric and that they might be surprised by his capitulation to Clinton and the leadership of the Democratic Party. They would not have known the history of the Gene McCarthy campaign of 1968, the George McGovern campaign of 1972, or the Jesse Jackson campaigns of the 1980s. They would not have known how those campaigns ended up like water sinking into the sands leaving nary a trace. But how do the older socialists explain themselves now?
Most particularly, how does a socialist group like Socialist Alternative justify its position? Their call for Sanders to run outside the Democratic Party is like a bridge jumper calling on gravity to stop operating – it violated the laws of political nature. Its only affect was to maintain the illusions that millions had in Sanders.
Instead, shouldn’t they have been warning Sanders supporters? Shouldn’t they have been explaining what had happened with previous similar campaigns mentioned above? Shouldn’t they have been explaining the need for a mass workers’ party and how none of the needs of workers and young people can be met through any wing of the Democrats? Shouldn’t they have been explaining the role of candidates like Sanders in luring people into the Democratic Party swamp?
It all could have been done in a friendly and sympathetic way. It might not have convinced people at the time, but it would have left a marker, left something to think about for a time like this.
It will be interesting to see how Sanders supporters respond. (According to a Wall St. Journal poll 14% of self-identified Sanders supporters say they’ll vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein while 9% say they’ll vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and 8% say they’ll vote for Trump, meaning that 17% say they’ll vote for a far right wing candidate.)
In a little over a week, thousands of Sanders supporters and others will be descending on Philadelphia, site of the Democratic Party convention, to press their demands. Oaklandsocialist will be there too to see and report on the mood and on what people are saying. We’ll also be there to stress the need for:
- An independent party of, by and for working class people – a party that not only campaigns for office but also organizes in the communities, work places and in the unions to fight Corporate America
- For a united struggle against racism and police murders.
- For unions that really fight for their members and for all working class people. This must include the unions to help lead the struggles agains the wave of police murders in this country.
- For the movement in the streets to reach out to the wider working class and to run its own candidates for office, outside of and opposed to the Republican/Democratic Party paradigm.
(Note: Since that time, we did go to Philadelphia. What we experienced there confirms everything this article explains. A report on that visit can be found here.)
*- Just last month, for instance, Sanders commented: ” I also look forward to working with Secretary Clinton to transform the Democratic Party so that it becomes a party of working people and young people, and not just wealthy campaign contributors: a party that has the courage to take on Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, the fossil fuel industry and the other powerful special interests that dominate our political and economic life.”
Categories: politics, Uncategorized, United States
“Was it ever really anything more than a political campaign? What of the ‘political revolution’?”
The revolution continues.
“Most important of all, what should be asked is ‘what sort of organization was built through the Sanders campaign? In what way has the Sanders campaign helped us organize better to fight Corporate America?’”
“In the coming weeks, I will be announcing the creation of successor organizations to carry on the struggle that we have been a part of these past 15 months. I hope you will continue to be involved in fighting to transform America. Our goal will be to advance the progressive agenda that we believe in and to elect like-minded candidates at the federal, state and local levels who are committed to accomplishing our goals.” — Bernie Sanders.
Guaranteed that the “successor organization” (1) will be totally aimed at building the Democratic Party through boosting its liberal wing; (2) will not have a means of members, or branches if there are any at all, to contact each other – in other words will be controlled from the top down.
Bernie supporters — in and out of the campaign — all over the country are in contact with each other constantly. It’s not like Socialist Alternative at all. 😀
“Our Revolution, a 501(c)(4) political organization, will work with several progressive groups to train and vet candidates. Sanders said he wants to make sure candidates receiving such help are, in fact, progressive. But they don’t have to be Democrats. ‘If you have some strong independents who would like to run, it would be my inclination to support them,’ he said.”
So much for your guarantee. 🙂
Sanders has made it perfectly clear up until now that his strategy and goal is to reform and strengthen the Democratic Party. That strategy and goal remains. He said as much in the article from which you quotes. “his goal (is) to transform the Democratic Party,” as the article wrote. As the quote you provided says, he only says it’s his “inclination” to support some independents. That is not a quibble; it shows how careful he is on the issue. And let’s not forget that many local races (for example Oakland city council and mayor) are non-partisan, meaning that technically the candidates can be considered “independent.” My whole point is that he will not be supporting anything that seeks to build an alternative to the Democrats. That guarantee remains.