I believe Bernie Sanders will win the Presidency. I said that to someone yesterday and was met with disbelief by someone my age (kinda old) who reads the local paper, listens to NPR, and watches MSNBC. Which is precisely why I was met with disbelief. Many more will be caught off guard in days to come.
The first thing I’ll point out is that Sanders has a self-replenishing campaign treasury. At the beginning of this month, Sanders’s campaign had raised $36 million, from three-quarters of a million donors, most small . . . but regular (Sherry and I kick in $27 a month on autopay). Instead of courting big donors, Sanders is then free to travel.
The second thing is that travel. Sanders and his campaign are tour-beasts. The pace of the campaign — on the ground, not what is reported in the so-called news — boggles the imagination (Sanders is the energizer bunny of American politics). Last night, I researched just the last week of Sanders’ campaign. In addition to two interviews and a podcast, he went to an Iowa softball game, and Iowa ice cream social, the Native American Forum (Iowa), a rally in Sioux City, a speech at the AFL-CIO convention, a climate crisis town hall in Chico CA, a rally in Sacramento, a town hall on student debt in San Francisco, the Minnesota State Fair, a Minnesota grassroots fundraiser, a rally in Kentucky to attack Mitch McConnell at home, a speech to the UE National Convention (receiving their endorsement), a climate crisis town hall in Florence SC, a Houston Muslim grassroots fundraiser, a speech to the Islamic Society of North America, a rally in Dover NH, a rally in Portland ME, a town hall in Peterborough NH, and a town hall in Claremont NH.
Sanders’ support is broad. I posted a map here a week ago showing the breadth of that support, but if you open the NYT map (linked) and run your cursor over the regions, even in the few pockets where Sanders is not number one in donors, he is consistently number two. Those are not just donors; they are the growing army of hardcore optimists who believe we can win this thing, and they include hundreds if not thousands of little local political cadres who are likewise involved in agitation, outreach, voter registration, and public education. These quiet cadres — growing a little with each campaign stop — are waiting for the right moment to go into action . . . some have already begun.
More than Sanders’s devotees, however, the campaign and its supporters are already actively involved in movement politics of various kinds. The detailed policies being regularly unveiled (Medicare for All, forgiveness of medical debt, Green New Deal, free college, student debt forgiveness, a comprehensive criminal justice reform program, the effective abolition of Taft-Hartley and strengthening unions, on and on it goes) are products of close collaboration between the campaign and existing social movements.
In the face of a broad media blackout of the campaign, the Sanders campaign, in conjunction with an emergent left-alternative media grid colonizing YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and the growing body of left-leaning to left text/print media, including several that serve almost as wings of the Sanders campaign, has a media-bypass strategy that is growing relentlessly . . . below the radar of the mainstream media. They are smart, aggressive, cogent, and persuasive . . . and they are growing their audiences. I’ll say more about that in a moment.
In any rational coverage of the news, this constellation of factors would be the Whoa! thang above the fold; but the capitalist media strategy (let’s call it what it is) is to ignore it, running a steady stream of sly pieces tearing the campaign down, in the hopes that this “populist horror” will disappear. But it is not disappearing; it’s still growing. If they think they were caught flatfooted by their own stupidities in 2016, they ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
None of this is to say that this will be easy. We’re on the cusp of a catastrophic climate shift, Act II of the 2008 crash (bigger and more spectacular this time), and we have fascist sympathizers among a third of white voters. Nothing is going to be easy for about two hundred years. The days of incremental activism and political dilettantism are past. We’ve engaged a fight with a large, wounded, and cornered animal (capital), and we’ve got to keep throwing Lilliputian ropes over it until it is sufficiently restrained to euthanize it. Young people are beginning to see the outlines of the coming Great Disruption, and that the future as they have conceived it is dead. Those who accept the reality, once they’ve grieved, are ready to grab a rope.
This is the secret weapon available to the Sanders campaign. Sanders has already said that winning the Presidency will be nothing more (or less) than a demonstration of popular power, and this is crucial for the movement to gain greater self-confidence. He has also said that the real work begins the day after the election, when we must unleash that popular power on recalcitrant politicians at home, mass actions (including civil disobedience) at flashpoints, and a diversity of tactics against the representatives of capital itself. Ropes, and more ropes.
Some may ask what they can do now; and here is where we go back to the media-bypass efforts. Among the alternatives, freely available on the internet, are Rising Up with Sonali, Left Business Observer, Status Coup, The Real News Network, Free Speech TV, The Gray Zone, The Humanist Report, The Benjamin Dixon Show, The Michael Brooks Show, The Young Turks, Rebel HQ, Democracy Now!, The Intercept, Extinction Rebellion, Secular Talk, The Way with Anoa, The Majority Report, Zero Hour, Thom Hartmann, Boom Bust (RT) (yes, I know it’s a Russian network), On Contact (RT), Useful Idiots (Rolling Stone), Hear the Bern, The Rational National, The Hill — Rising, Tim Black TV, Ralph Nader Hour, any several I can’t think of now. The text/print media includes many more, but my emphasis here is on what people can watch/listen on TV, a computer, or a phone . . . which is where young people (other too, natch) get a good deal of their information.
What we can do now is begin watching/listening, then linking and publicizing these sites to others . . . again and again and again. Even an old fart like me who gets winded walking up a flight of stairs can re-post links. And in this case, it’s not a substitute activism that allows me to isolate (which I like, having hermetic tendencies). Just as importantly, if you like any of these outlets and have a little to spare, subscribe and contribute. They ain’t gettin’ Big Pharma money.
Alternative media are part of an active dissemination tactic that materially helps this campaign . . . which is not about Sanders, though it can’t do without him as our focal point right now. It is about demonstrating our newfound power in ways that encourage the faint-hearted, embolden our actions, and give this emergent movement the self-confidence it will need to lash down capital, rope after rope, and begin the massive project of rescue, triage, and redesign.
Spread the word. Register young voters. Start trouble.
“We’re not walking any more. We’re marching.”