Bernie Sanders Loyalists Are Taking Over the Democratic Party One County Office at a Time

The followers of Sen. Bernie Sanders, shown above last week, are aiming to transform the Democratic Party’s power structure, starting with the lowest-level state and county committee posts.

In fight to define party in age of Donald Trump, Sanders followers want to transform it from the bottom up by taking control of low-level state and county posts

 

The followers of Sen. Bernie Sanders, shown above last week, are aiming to transform the Democratic Party’s power structure, starting with the lowest-level state and county committee posts. Photo: mandel ngan/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

By Reid J. Epstein and Janet Hook

Wall St Journal

Feb. 22, 2017  – In Washington, Democrats are grappling with what it means to be a minority party in the age of Donald Trump. In the rest of the country, populist followers of Sen. Bernie Sanders are mounting a sustained effort to answer the question from the bottom up.

In California, supporters of the 2016 presidential contender packed the obscure party meetings that chose delegates to the state Democratic convention, with Sanders backers grabbing more than half the slots available.

In Washington state, they swept to power at the Democratic state central committee, ousting a party chairman and installing one of their own in his place. Sanders acolytes have seized control of state parties in Hawaii and Nebraska and won posts throughout the party structure from coast to coast.

Those gains come from an under-the-radar blitz in a debate over the future of the party following its bruising 2016 losses. While Democrats nationwide have put the focus on President Trump, the Sanders wing of the party has engaged in an intramural fight to remake the party in a more populist, liberal mold.

“It is absolutely imperative that we see a major transformation of the Democratic Party,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview last week. The party has “to do what has to be done in this country, to bring new energy, new blood.”

The party will choose its new chairman on Saturday at a meeting in Atlanta. Some in the Democratic old guard harbor concerns that a sharp turn to the left could alienate centrist voters, jeopardize the party’s position in the next presidential election and, before then, lead to primary challenges to incumbent Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections.

The Brevard County, Fla., Democratic Party’s executive committee meeting in Rockledge drew a full house last week.

The Brevard County, Fla., Democratic Party’s executive committee meeting in Rockledge drew a full house last week. Photo: Jacob Langston for The Wall Street Journal

“Is the Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren wing of the party going to push us too far to the left?” asked former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who also served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “Only if they start going after incumbent moderate Democrats in primaries like the tea party did.”

Last week, a group of former Sanders campaign aides launched a super PAC with the explicit goal of mounting primary challenges to Democratic incumbents. Party leaders are urging Democrats to focus on fighting Mr. Trump and his GOP allies instead of turning their fire inward.

For now, the strategy of Mr. Sanders’s followers is to infiltrate and transform the Democratic Party’s power structure, starting with the lowest-level state and county committee posts that typically draw scant attention.

Brevard County Democratic Executive Committee chair Stacey Patel, standing, spoke at the meeting last week in Rockledge.

Brevard County Democratic Executive Committee chair Stacey Patel, standing, spoke at the meeting last week in Rockledge. Photo: Jacob Langston for The Wall Street Journal

“From where I come from in the Bernie movement, people believe that there are permanent obstacles to change,” said Larry Cohen, the board chairman of Our Revolution, the political organization that grew from the 2016 Sanders presidential campaign.

Continue reading “Bernie Sanders Loyalists Are Taking Over the Democratic Party One County Office at a Time”

Statement of the Committees of Correspondence on the 2016 elections

Reflect, Revitalize and Resist

The movement for justice and progress in the U.S. has suffered a great setback. And the depth of the reactionary movement that led to this setback was underestimated by most on the left. It’s necessary to reflect on what it has taught us and about our shortcomings but it’s also vital to assess our strength to meet this great challenge.

The majority of Americans – whether through their votes or by sitting out the election – displayed a repudiation of business as usual in Washington. We believe that Bernie Sander’s campaign channeled the anger behind this sentiment in a progressive direction. It galvanized a new generation of voters and activists. We call on progressives to continue to support such true progressive elected officials – there are a few – but also to organize around the principles of that movement and not solely around these individuals.

Unprecedented marches are happening around the country. We unite with these and encourage participation by all. We call for unity of the great progressive movement that has been disorganized.  There is an urgent need of unity. We now must be humble enough to recognize that our sum is greater than our parts. We must renew our efforts at building this unity.

But perhaps most importantly, it is necessary to resist this immoral but effective minority in government and on the streets. We must repudiate the corrupt political system that has brought this about, fight the regressive efforts of that system and show that there is yet a passionate progressive majority that only needs unity to show effective strength.

The Committees of Correspondence stands prepared to join in this great task before us. We stand in solidarity with all those who are ready to fight the forces of reaction and project a future of equality of all people and justice for the many, over the enrichment of a few.

Millenial Power: Bernie Sanders Is Running a Shadow Campaign

By Leonid Bershidsky

Bloomberg View

Oct 21, 2016 – In Colorado, Bernie Sanders isn’t just acting as a surrogate for Hillary Clinton. He’s also holding separate events to keep his movement and its issues alive in a state he won handily in the June Democratic primary. Now he is urging his followers to support a ballot measure to establish the nation’s first universal health care system. It will probably be defeated, yet his backers, who have settled for a bird in the hand this year, are certain they own the future.

Changing demographics may be on on their side, and what happens in Colorado could be a model for the rest of the U.S. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the European-style changes Sanders has passionately advocated for the U.S. will take place anytime soon.

On Oct. 17, about 2,000 people — few of them older than 25 — gathered on a football field at the University of Colorado Boulder to hear Sanders make an impassioned plea for Amendment 69, which would move the state to a health care system much like the one in Germany, where I live. The students shifted impatiently and made disappointed noises every time a local speaker took the microphone: They’d come to hear Bernie. They did a “Feel the Bern” chant, like the old days, and they surged forward when he appeared. They booed when he did a Donald Trump imitation, ripping into pharmaceutical companies’ “yuuuuge” profits, and they clapped when he said health care is a basic human right.

The Sanders cause is very much alive in a state where, less than eight months ago, I saw caucus organizers attempt to deal with the unprecedented crowds of millennials that turned out for their 74-year-old hero. In the Denver high school I visited, votes were held in parking lots and stairwells. Clinton lost to the Vermont senator by a 19-point margin.

Colorado was expected to be a battleground state this year. It hasn’t been. Most of the time, Clinton has enjoyed a big lead over Trump in the polls. The same people who ensured Sanders’s primary victory could do the same for her in the general election.

Millennial Power

JoyAnn Ruscha, who was political director for the Sanders campaign in Colorado and a Sanders delegate at the Democratic National Convention, recalls bursting into tears when the senator moved that Clinton be nominated by acclamation.

“I’d known for weeks, months, that she would win,” Ruscha says. “But it’s like being in a relationship, breaking up and then seeing that person again. You think you’re OK, but you’re not.”

Now Ruscha is helping the Clinton campaign, though not as a staffer. She says that much of the grassroots activity that took Clinton by surprise during the caucus season has now shifted to her. “Many former staff and big volunteers are building in the Latino community what they did for Sanders,” Ruscha says.

Trump is an important reason why these young people, who mocked Clinton and called her corrupt last winter and spring, are now working for her. Trump has never missed a chance to appeal to Sanders supporters, telling them Clinton hadn’t won fairly — but he hasn’t made inroads with the idealistic young people who turned out in force for Bernie. (Continued)

Continue reading “Millenial Power: Bernie Sanders Is Running a Shadow Campaign”