Sunday, June 19, 2016

An army of Sanders supporters are lining up on that hill yonder to run for office

I just finished watching a video by Bernie Sanders. It was a live stream of a speech given by him a couple of days ago and in it Bernie nails all of the usual talking points. What is significant about this video is that he is now encouraging thousands of people to run for office.

According to the Bern Report, nearly 6700 people have signed up so far, and I am sure there will be more. A million people marching on Philly might be nice (there will be a march, we just don't know how big yet), but a million men and women who follow the same principles as Bernie who find a way into public office would be amazing. What could happen to our government if a million people ran for public office following one simple principle: no big money contributions? Why, they would, as Larry Lessig says, "be dependent on the people alone".

Even 6700 people who decide to run for public office would be a great start on a peaceful revolution. They could run for a seat on the local school board, water district, city council, statehouses, and even Congress. God knows there are plenty of places to sit in government.

I think we could throw in state Democratic Party organizations, too. We need new blood in state level political organizations to help rewrite the rules so that what happened to Bernie never happens again to people like him. Heck, even in New Jersey, a big wig got up to make a nice speech about Bernie and he was doffed in less than an hour by the state Democratic Party committee. I guess party unity isn't that important because they could do without our votes. But with enough Sanders supporters running for office and in political party leadership roles, perhaps in a few short years, we could get a Brand New Congress.

Local and state level offices are the low hanging fruit of change. Even local initiatives can bring about positive change. I noticed this last year when I wrote about the fair state of Colorado. Many small towns in Colorado have had to put up with poor service from major internet service providers for many years. When a few small towns decided to build their own networks, the legislature passed a law making it harder for towns to build their own networks. That law left an out for small towns, any town in Colorado, really. Any town could opt-out by local referendum.

In the last two years, more than 50 towns and counties in Colorado have been able to opt out by referendum. For most them, the vote in favor of opting out was overwhelming, some as high as 90% or better. Well, the big telecoms were not happy with that, so they tried to get a new bill passed to make it even harder for small towns to assert local control over their internet access, but that bill so far, has failed. Yes, they will try to use their money to sway the legislature, but now the cat is out of the bag. People in Colorado have figured out how to get the power to roll their own, um, networks.

With hundreds and maybe even thousands of Berniecrats running for office around the nation, from the school board to Congress, it would be overwhelming for establishment types to hold their power. The press would not be able to keep them down, though they could try, and they will try. But I've seen the enthusiasm and dead set determination of Sanders supporters to get their man into office, fair and square.

It is time to bring a long and slow chapter of suffering for the American people to a close. But it must be the American people to put a stop to the pay-for-play politics we have now. It will take an army of Berniecrats to overwhelm the establishment both in the government at all levels, and in the media. Just as this government was formed to be of the people, by the people for the people, we must become the media and make it work for us. Social media can make much of that happen.

In 2008, we saw how social media helped bring the news of Barack Obama to the nation and how Obama used the internet to organize and channel his support to win the election. The jury is still out on this election. Sanders has not conceded the primaries and plans to be at the convention in July with an undeniable army of supporters on the internet in tow.

We must continue that work, but not just with Bernie. We must show our support in social media for new politicians who want to play fair, and who will accept no big money contributions, for they will need every bit of support we can lend them.

Establishment press organizations will have none of this talk of revolution. Power concedes nothing without demand. The kind of power we're fighting will need to see a lot of people making demands before that power is willing to concede.

Bernie is right. This revolution goes far beyond getting him into the White House. Changes in power never start from the top down, it always comes from the bottom up. We need an army of thousands of people willing to run for local and state office, an army of people that will take no big money for their campaigns. We need people who run for office based on the merits of their policy positions, not the size of their campaign fund. Who knows, maybe democratic socialism will seem like the norm in the United States in less than a decade, you know, like Finland, Norway and Denmark.

So, while we're waiting for the convention, here, watch another video featuring Bernie. I never get tired of this stuff. It's like a continual affirmation of a vision of a government that represents all of us.

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