Saturday, March 05, 2016

Bernie Isn't Inevitable-- But Neither Is The Status Quo Establishment Candidate


British journalists, presumably Jeremy Corbyn enthusiasts, seem a hell of a lot more excited about Bernie's political revolution that the corporate political journalists based in this country. But before we get into the work of a British journalist who's following Bernie around the country and reporting on his campaign for U.K. readers, one quick look at a decidedly un-corporate American perspective, from our old pal, Russ Baker from Who.What.Why. This week he reported on the role of the Clinton Machine and it's media allies in keeping the African American vote in a pre-ordained slot: Hillary Clinton’s camp. He recalls for his readers that "at the same time the young Hillary Clinton was a proud Goldwater Republican in the early-mid sixties, the young Bernie Sanders was getting arrested as a supporter of civil rights" and that was a narrative she had to dispel. So, her media shills keep repeating, ad nauseam that "Black folks just love Hillary." And then the came the big smear, mouthed by corrupt Clinton supporters working in tandem to paint a picture of the Goldwater Girl as something other than what she was and a picture of a real civil rights supporter-- who was tossed into jail for his efforts-- while Hillary was bolstering a party the party of ugly racism and bigotry. It worked in South Carolina, Alabama and Texas and even in Oklahoma, where Bernie won 75 out of 77 counties, Hillary's two wins were in the counties with the biggest African American concentrations.

I spoke with British journalist Paul Hilder a few times last week as he moved around the country covering Bernie. Thursday he penned a post for RawStory about how Bernie can still win. His premise is that Bernie's campaign "is changing the laws of political physics-- just like Trump did, only far more profoundly. The Bernie crowd is building the most extraordinary grassroots momentum I have ever seen. The movement is gathering strength by the day, and its chances to win are growing fast... The media are telling their own stale and circular story of stalled momentum, defeat and superdelegate-powered inevitability. Meanwhile the Bernie movement is growing faster than Facebook did-- and in much the same way.

Bernie is shocking the establishment with his small donor financial success, but as he says "the only thing more powerful than money is people. And people are flooding into this campaign in their multitudes."
The Bernie campaign’s decentralised model is empowering supporters to self-organise like never before. In the run-up to 2008, Obama built a new machine based on data and community organising techniques to win an election. By contrast, the Bernie crowd are building a new kind of movement-- one which could just lead to nothing less than the re-founding of American democracy.

The volunteer data and activity I’m seeing tells an extraordinary story: the Bernie Sanders campaign could be entering a Silicon Valley-like phase of exponential growth.

Volunteers are coordinating in realtime through web tools, social media and Slack chatrooms, contributing their unique skills to the campaign as well as making calls and converting neighbours and friends. They are making millions of calls, sending hundreds of thousands of text messages and knocking on tens of thousands of doors every day. They are organising barnstorming meetings to get others involved, holding benefit concerts and having a whole lot of fun. They are designing their own empowerment, revising their own scripts.

And they’re just getting started. Most of this infrastructure didn’t even exist a month ago. The campaign is setting what seem like wildly ambitious goals for engagement, then blowing right past them. This is a category-killing political startup with a massive, passionate and fast-growing base, and they’re talking unabashedly about revolution.

What is the Bernie crowd’s actual path to the Democratic nomination? Strategist Tad Devine was crystal clear on a briefing call earlier this week. They organise. They keep growing at exponential speed. They flood into low-turnout primaries and win increasingly-significant victories in key states.

They win in the industrial Midwest-- perhaps even in Michigan next Tuesday. I was there last night with Bernie in a roaring stadium in Lansing. 10,000 people showed up, and almost 3000 of them signed up to knock on doors. Bernie just released a searing ad on jobs and trade agreements which speaks directly to the pains and dispossessions of the 33% of manufacturing workers in Michigan who have lost their jobs in the last fifteen years.

Commentators ask, “What makes Bernie Sanders think he can win Michigan?” The answers aren’t hard to find. While it’s true that Hillary Clinton has led the polls thus far, the same was true in every state that has voted for Sanders-- until it wasn’t.

They win again and again, bigger and bigger, as the Bernie crowd keeps growing. And eventually the media goldfish will realise that while they’re swimming around and around in their little media cycle, there’s a whole ocean of humanity out there, joyfully connecting and awakening.

The big states late in the calendar start falling like dominos: New York, Pennsylvania, California… And I haven’t even mentioned Hillary Clinton’s unfavorability ratings, or the unique majority of the general public who view Bernie positively. And the super-delegates will follow the popular vote. This is 2016, not Tammany Hall.

This is a popular wave, a democratic crowd, the polar opposite of a mob. The Bernie supporters I’ve met are overwhelmingly thoughtful, passionate, serious people who have finally found a politics they can believe in. Finally, they are discovering their strength in numbers. And they are becoming a tidal wave.

I’ve asked dozens of Bernie supporters what they mean by political revolution, and the answer is modest and extraordinarily consistent: it’s about ending corruption, taking back American democracy for the many, and enabling everyone to live a normal, happy, fulfilling life. Their critique is acute and resonates far beyond the liberal left into conservative and rural strongholds. Their prescriptions are gathering force.
Please consider contributing to Bernie and to the congressional candidates who have endorsed him and are running on his issues. You can find them all on the same page, here. Oh, and one more thing... from Graham Nash in freezing Paris: "Bernie is one of us."

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