Is ‘Our Revolution’ the Way To Build Transformative Politics?

Lambert here: Readers know my priors, here; what I wanted out of election 2016 is what I’ve called The Overton Prism, where, instead of bipolar politics — yeah, no kidding — we have tri-polar politics: conservative, liberal, and left, where both conservatives and liberals put markets first, and where the left puts working people first; you can already see this tri-polarity emerging in health care policy, for example. Another way of saying this is that both conservatives and liberals are neoliberals, and the left is not, and that the left really has no voice, and should have (although a voice is just a first step). In fact, I consider the emergence of independent, stand-alone, and big left entities more important than which presidential candidate gets elected; “elections come and go,” as Sanders says. So, naturally, I fit “Our Revolution” into that picture, and I feel a good deal of hope for it. It’s pretty rare for me to be hopeful about politics!

That said, Our Revolution’s take-off has been a little bumpy. (I do think some bumps are only to be expected for a very rapid launch in the midst of a Presidential campaign — which the notoriously controlling Clinton cannot have been happy about — and where there are a lot of institutional interests to be addressed by a team without much experience in such things.) The bumps included staff departures, and agita about Sanders’ choice of the 510(c)(4) structure. Nevertheless, Our Revolution now has a board, has endorsed some candidates, and raised some money for them. We’ll see how it goes!

About all these issues Paul Jay’s interviewee, Bill Curry, provides useful technical perspectives. I’ve gotta say that I’m a bit wary about a counselor and Democratic strategist in the Clinton White House urging that Sanders share the famous list widely (that is, with liberals). Nevertheless, Curry knows his trade, and for that reason, he’s worth a listen.

Oh, and TRNN is coming down the home stretch on their fundraiser….

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Baltimore.

On Wednesday night Bernie Sanders spoke to something like 2,600 people in house parties across the country announcing the formation of a new organization called Our Revolution, or, and here’s a little bit of what he had to say in his speech.

BERNIE SANDERS: Real change never, ever takes place from the top on down. It’s not some guy signing a bill. It always takes place from the bottom on up, when millions of people come together and demand fundamental change in the country.

JAY: The very day this organization was announced, the day of that evening, about 8 of 13 staff members of Bernie Sanders who had been assigned to work on Our Revolution quit, and it became quite a controversy. In fact, in many ways the controversy overshadowed the announcement of the creation of the organization. The next morning, after Bernie made this speech, there was a debate on Democracy Now. Claire Sandberg, one of the staff that quit, and she was the digital organizer, I believe, and Larry Cohen, who used to be the head of the communication workers union, was a senior Sanders adviser, and is now going be chair of the board of this new organization called Our Revolution, they had a debate. And here’s a little bit of that.

CLAIRE SANDBERG: Jeff has gone on the record admitting that he wanted to form the organization as a 501(c)(4) for the express purpose of accepting billionaire money, which of course flies in the face of what all of our supporters are so excited about, that we were taking the country back from the billionaire class without the use of billionaire money, $27 at a time.

LARRY COHEN: There will be no contributions from billionaires, and I guarantee that. And I think it’s unfortunate that staff left.

SANDBERG: Specifically it shows in a legal structure for the organization that it already prevented us from doing effective organizing for candidates like Tim Canova, who has talked about how we have left him hanging, which is true. As the group was formed as a (c)(4), we legally couldn’t coordinate with Canova, couldn’t return his calls, couldn’t mobilize thousands of Bernie supporters locally in Miami or across the country to participate in his field operation.

COHEN: The key is that all of us on this board believe that we will mobilize millions of people. We’re not here to run campaigns. That would be a different kind of organization. We will mobilize millions of people against the TPP.

JAY: So the controversy is focused around Jeff Weaver, who was the campaign manager for the Sanders campaign and has now been appointed the executive director of Our Revolution. And now joining me to discuss all of this is Bill Curry. He’s a columnist for and he was White House counselor to President Bill Clinton. Thanks for joining us, Bill.

BILL CURRY: Great to be with you as always, Paul.

JAY: So if I understand it correctly, and I’ve talked to various people sort of on background who are close to people who resigned, as well as close to people in the campaign, and from what you can glean from the newspaper articles about all of this, there seems to have been two main points of contention between the staff that quit and Jeff Weaver, who’s now the director of the organization. The reason all this matters is not that do we want to get into, you know, every campaign has a soap opera. I’m sure anyone examined the Real News, you can find all kinds of people that will say things that they don’t like around this place.

But it seems the debate goes to heart of what at least the people that quit thing is the mission of this organization, and how it’s going to execute. The fight took place originally, if I understand it, during the campaign itself about how much money to put into television advertising versus how much money is put into grassroots organizing, ground game and online activity. And a lot of the young staff wanted more resources on that online, grassroots side. And Weaver was very much in favor of spending a lot of money on television advertising. And that fight seemed to be taking shape, that it was going to repeat itself in how Our Revolution was going to conduct itself.

And that goes to the same, I think it’s connected to this point, of why they created this as a (c)(4), a 501(c)(4). Which, for people who don’t know, there’s various forms of nonprofit organizations, or tax-exempt organizations perhaps is the better term. And a 501(c)(4) is tax-exempt, but if you donate to it you do not get a tax receipt as opposed to, for example, the Real News is a 501(c)(3). If you donate to the Real News, and this is, of course, I might as well use it. It’s a plug for donating. If you donate in the United States you do get a tax receipt if you donate to the Real News.

CURRY: Tax deduction.

JAY: I’m sorry, tax deduction, yes. So let’s start with the second piece. The fight over the (c)(4). Why Jeff Weaver chose to create this as a 501(c)(4). The contention is that he did it, and according to Claire in this Democracy Now! debate actually admitted to people he wanted to do it so he could get dark money, meaning billionaires’ money, which would not be declared where that money came from. Of course, Larry Cohen, who’s now chair of the board, says they will be transparent. Why create this as a (c)(4)?

CURRY: Well, first of all, you have to create some kind of an entity to do this work. As you were pointing out, in a (c)(4), the donor doesn’t get a tax deduction but the organization is tax exempt. And so there are three or four entities out there that the body of federal law make almost inevitable. If you want to run for office you better have a campaign ready. If you want to contribute, you’d better have a political action committee. And then these 501(c)(4)s, since the infamous Citizens United case, have given especially the wealthy and powerful a lot more leeway with which to buy elections.

But the flaw, I think, in the argument of the people who left is that just because the federal law permits an organization to do something, that doesn’t mean that its own bylaws and board membership can’t make it do something else. That seems to be what Larry Cohen was saying, and I pray that’s what they’ll do. For the progressive movement to take undisclosed money, for any progressive movement on any progressive issue to be receiving undisclosed money, and to be disproportionately beholden to the very wealthy, just poisons the very well of the thing.

But just because it’s a 501(c)(4)–Karl Rove has a 501(c)(4). They don’t tell anybody where any of their money comes from. But everybody needs something like a 501(c)(4), and you can have bylaws that mean that you do it the right way.

JAY: But why do a 501(c)(4) unless you want to have money that isn’t disclosed? It restricts how much you can do in terms of political campaigning. For example, as Claire said in this Democracy Now! piece, they couldn’t coordinate any activities with Tim Canova in Florida. You cannot, according to 501(c)(4) rules, if I understand it correctly, helping candidates directly in any way has to be a subordinate part of what you do. It can’t be a primary part of what you do. Whereas Bernie Sanders has been talking and his campaign had been talking that supporting downticket races is one of the main things that they want to do in the next phase. So why restrict that activity through a (c)(4) when you could have had a PAC, or frankly, even a super PAC?

CURRY: Let me just say, I’m hoping that the Sanders people who, for understandable reasons, didn’t turn to this question of progressive movement-building until their own race was over, hoping that they’re still in the process of figuring this all out. I mentioned Karl Rove has a 501(c)(4), and also a 501(c)(3), I think, and I know a PAC.

I used to work at–leave Karl Rove out of it. In the 1980s I was honored to be the political director of the nuclear [freeze movement], and I ran the political action committee. And the freeze movement, very much like the entire progressive community today, had every kind of entity in it. There were church groups. There were all kinds of nonprofits. 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, all of which could do different pieces. We could all agree on a goal, but many of us couldn’t collaborate on a specific task within that goal. And we had to find a modus vivendi, a way for the entire movement to live together and contribute in common to the cause.

That’s what Bernie’s got to do. And Bernie’s entity can’t be the only entity. But if a year from now it’s only a501(c)(4) I’ll be surprised. If it’s a 501(c)(4) that doesn’t disclose all of its donors I’ll be shocked, and deeply disappointed. My guess is that all these entities, the people who are doing this now, many of whom seem very new, as I began to say before, to this very issue and to all the thorny problems that are entailed, I just assume that they’re going to go through a few more weeks of learning about it. And then it will be up to the board.

Again, I believe that it’s not just about the organization Bernie wants to build. I believe that, and I hope he looks upon this–Bernie’s a self-identified democratic socialist. I hope he looks on this as a democratic socialist would look at any such undertaking and see that all the assets, the donor list, the volunteer list, the assets that were built by the campaign ought to be the common property of the people who built it. And the point here is to find the most effective way to share this with as much of the progressive movement as we possibly can, and in as open and democratic a way as we possibly can.

JAY: Apparently there’s already been some critique of Our Revolution, even though it just began, on whether or not there’s enough consultation going on with local grassroots organizations about which candidate is going to be supported. I don’t know the details of it. There was a controversy in New York, for example. This issue of how Our Revolution relates to all, especially the grassroots organizations that really helped create the Sanders campaign in the first place, is going to be critical whether this is going to be effective or not.

CURRY: Look, there are two precedents that are very much on the minds of the staff who quit and the progressives in and out of the Sanders campaign. One of those is the Obama campaign of 2008. Obama built the largest grassroots political movement in the history of electoral politics, and perhaps in the history of American politics. And then as soon as the election was over he took the whole thing private. He turned a grassroots movement into a Washington-based mailing list, and put that under the jurisdiction of some major donors. And it was one of the original sins of the Obama administration, I would argue. And I don’t think Bernie Sanders certainly has that kind of intention.

But it’s a very difficult thing for someone who has control of a bunch of assets that they think empowered them to realize that the best thing they could do for the cause is to empower everyone else and give up their control. Giving up your own power to create more power for others always turns out to be hard for the people who are asked to do it. I hope they’ll do it this time.

The second precedent, by the way, that goes to your question is the precedent of this election, in which all the organizations virtually who are nominally progressive, and who have stood for progressive interest values and policies for three generations and more, all those organizations who allow their boards to choose their candidates, virtually all of them endorsed Hillary Clinton, even though Bernie Sanders was so much closer and truer to their values and positions. And nearly all the organizations that let their grassroots membership decide, who did it in an open, democratic way, went the opposite direction. When the membership was consulted, they tended to go overwhelmingly with Bernie.

What happened to progressives in Washington is they traded the politics of pressure for the politics of access. And the politics of access works very well for the leaders of the organization, but not so well for the membership, and not so well for the cause. And we’ve been at this now for 30 years, and it’s time for somebody from those organizations, I would argue, to step back and ask, what has all that access really gotten us? Not you, us. All of us.

And so this concern about who gets to make these choices, people want to be like Democracy for America and Working Families Party and, and make sure the membership makes the decision to use the technology, not just to send targeted messages but to really try to empower the people who are in the organization, that’s a fight worth fighting.

JAY: And what do you make about the controversy over television advertising versus grassroots organizing, where the resources go, the online piece? This sort of goes, I would guess, to the issue of are you fundamentally building a movement, which takes a lot of ground game, a lot of walking on doors and organizing, or are you trying to sway public opinion through TV advertising, which perhaps you could argue is better in an election campaign? Although the people on the grassroots movement online side, they think they did more in terms of actually getting out votes than the TV advertising did, although one would think there’s some data to analyze there. But what do you think of what that controversy represents?

CURRY: Interpreting that data is always highly subjective, and more a matter of art than science, or at least as much a matter of art. I think two things. First of all, I think that Gandhi and Saul Alinsky had it right. I have a very old-fashioned view of this, that there’s a kind of chemical reaction that takes place when people meet face to face. There’s a bonding. People are willing to take risks. People can learn more. I think that every great movement in human history was built on face-to-face contact. Saul Alinsky said you have to at least get them at the door, and preferably at the kitchen table, in order to bring someone in.

And I think that there was a lot of false hope about what the internet could do on its own in terms of organizing. It’s a great tool. You have to make sure it’s the, you know, it’s the servant and not the master. And so I believe in the most old-fashioned stuff, and that is, and that is human-to-human organizing and interaction, if what you want is systemic, long-term change.

And the second thing, I’ll just, is part of what I just said about the technology itself. You know, if you’re a progressive, by definition you’re for new ideas. And if you’re for new ideas, they, by definition, take longer to explain. You know, a 40-odd, 140-odd character tweet or a 30-second ad. An ad can manipulate your hopes or it can manipulate your fears. But it’s all manipulation. If you’re a progressive and have a new idea, new ideas take what, a minute? Maybe two? It takes longer. The very technology we use, that even we progressives use, and the kind of polling and focus-grouping which always has, always is looking in the rearview mirror and never ahead, these techniques are killing us, I think.

And so I’m very much on the side of those younger people who say the resources we have–television is sometimes effective. Again, the data’s hard to interpret. I think that it’s many times overestimated. But there’s no question that particularly in electoral political campaigns, it can often make a difference.

But where this long-term movement building is concerned, what begins here 8:01PM on election day and going forward, regardless of the outcome, is that we need to build a progressive movement. That movement needs to develop its agenda and to refine its agenda so that it can be a majoritarian agenda in this country, and then we have to go sell it. Because, you know, the Quakers say speak truth to power, but it turns out power is very hard of hearing. And it’s not till everybody speaks to it that it changes.

JAY: I think you probably have to go further. Speaking truth to people who have power might be a little better formulation.

CURRY: Well, in a democracy I think it comes first to the public. I think the power of ideas is greater than the power of money. But because it depends on the power of public opinion, and mobilizing public opinion, I’ve been arguing with people who are wrestling with these questions that you’re raising right now, I’ve been arguing in the last few days, that we’re in an odd situation in which electoral politics isn’t the most important thing. We need PACs. We need every one of these entities to be [strengthened]. We need to find ways to interact and to coordinate our efforts, where we can do so lawfully and effectively.

But the bottom line is that it’s the narrowest function, it’s the public education function, that all the entities can do that is most important right now. I would argue that we need to build public sentiment around strong, clear ideas, as the freeze movement and the women’s movement and the environmental and civil rights and labor movements did in their heydays, and that when we do that, I believe that’s when the change will come.

JAY: Well, one of the great accomplishments of the Sanders campaign–and we’re only having this conversation at all because of how much the campaign actually did accomplish, to, I think, to everyone’s surprise, especially Bernie Sanders, that it actually contended as well as it did. But one of the great accomplishments was on the side of the money, that the fact that you could raise so much money in small amounts and contend with the kind of money that Clinton raised, it’s a game changer. So what happens to that fundraising potential as we move ahead is a critical question, whether it’s Our Revolution or not, a different organization.

But Sanders is the one with the lists. His campaign has got that tool, that machine, and whether that gets used to help all the downticket campaigns he’s talking about, I mean, I don’t see a better way to do education in this country than around election campaigns. That’s when people seem to be receptive to hear these ideas. And so I don’t think you can connect, disconnect movement building from electioneering or public education. They’re kind of inseparable.

CURRY: You know, as I have many times argued with my friend Ralph Nader, I see almost the opposite. I think that elections are, in many ways, the hardest time to educate. And again, I don’t think any of the movements I’ve talked about did virtually any of their educating during elections. The media–when I was in college I wrote a paper about this, a million years ago, about the fact that I just looked at Time and Newsweek and a couple national newspapers, and showed that all the–the amount of time they spent on their front pages talking about policy in a presidential election year was reduced 75 percent. And it was all replaced with horse race and fundraising and baloney.

JAY: But that’s their choice. They don’t–we don’t do that at the Real News. You don’t have to do that. Because if you–ordinary people, you know, that’s when they talk politics, is when there’s election campaigns on. Otherwise entertainment culture and everything else kind of–hang on a sec.

CURRY: Again, I would just, I would just say that I’m–I would just challenge the idea–. And I’m not sure I’m right about this. And I know that the truth embraces pieces of each of these, of perspectives. But to some degree, back in 1980, ’79, 1980 in my region, and I helped, I went around to all the progressive organizations and helped persuade them to form PACs. They didn’t even have PACs until then. And I ran the second-largest independent PAC in the country, and that’s the nuclear freeze movement.

I look upon, back on those days with some regret, especially the first part. Not so much the freeze. Because when we formed all these PACs and went so heavily into electoral politics, I think we stopped some of the most important educating that we did. And above all, I think we began to be colonized by the Democratic Party, so that some of these progressive movements did turn into Washington-based mailing lists, and did lose contact. I know they do too much of it.

And I, myself, question its effectiveness. But at the very least–so my urging to people is that we find out, find ways (c)(3)s, (c)(4)s, whole other, church group–there’s a whole other set of ways to do this. Some of these are floating [ad hoc]risies. The most effective grassroots movements of the last ten years have been around the wages in the beginning in the fast food industry, and cutting over to the referenda on raised minimum wage, and above all the same-sex marriage movement. And neither of those involved any elected officials, or any PACs whatsoever. All of them involve mobilizing public opinion the way we used to.

JAY: Well, that’s a long conversation. Because I think especially on the issue of gay–.

CURRY: It is a long conversation. And I don’t mean you can only do one. You’ve got to keep doing both. I’ve spent my life in politics. No hiding it. So I believe deeply in it. I know you have to fight these campaigns through. But I think we gave up a lot of other things that are very important, require more of our attention and energy.

JAY: All right, thanks for joining us, Bill.

CURRY: Oh, my pleasure.

JAY: Thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Arizona Slim

      Exactly. And I also like how this piece shows the difference between movements and campaigns.

  1. Marco

    Not to get all Frank Herbert on y’all but “A beginning is a very important time”. And no other primary this cycle was more symbolic for the “Left” than the Canova / DWS race. If Sanberg is correct above in stating that the LEGAL structure of “Our Revolution” prevented them from assisting / coordinating with the Canova campaign then screw Cohen and Weaver and Sanders. Fom someone who gave VERY generously to Sanders it’s obvious they don’t need my money anymore.

    1. Marco

      Also…not to speak on behalf of entire “small-doner” class but the psychology of giving completely changes when I know some pseudo-lefty schmuck with a bank account can drop five of six figure checks.

      1. Frank

        Very true. If there is not limit on donations, you wind up with donor “classes”, so which class does that leave me and my concerns and my $25 when compared to some guy who can write check for 10,000x that?

    2. Portia

      I think particularly because of Canova’s opponent, it is question-provoking and informative that they left “him hanging”. Whose “revolution” is it exactly? Time to get some insight on that, IMO.
      A revolution could also be seen as a circular trip.

    3. Independent Man

      “A beginning is a very important time”

      I like the sound of that.

      Here are some possibilities to consider…

      A simple model that transcends left and right.


      The monetary puzzle is challenging because of where we are technologically.

      I almost feel sorry for the economic libertarians, they have been conned.

      Please take the time to consider the ideas of this important analyst and
      problem solver.

      If you like any of the above, please pass it on, and discuss, we all have a role to play.


  2. allan

    What happened to progressives in Washington is they traded the politics of pressure for the politics of access. And the politics of access works very well for the leaders of the organization, but not so well for the membership, and not so well for the cause. And we’ve been at this now for 30 years, and it’s time for somebody from those organizations, I would argue, to step back and ask, what has all that access really gotten us? Not you, us. All of us.

    This. I love the smell of rhetorical questions in the morning.

  3. JaaaaayCeeeee

    I am impressed by the full list of board members for Our Revolution. People like Ben Jealous, Jim Zogby, Jane Kleeb, and Larry Cohen could have traded the politics of pressure for the politics of access long, long ago, and the contacts and cred of the whole list is broad.

    Whatever disadvantages the group’s structure or personnel have, there is some real strength here:

    Nina Turner – Fmr. Ohio State Senator
    Deborah Parker – Native American Leader
    Ben Jealous – Civil Rights Leader
    Jim Hightower – Political Leader, National Radio Commentator & Writer
    Jim Zogby – Arab American Human Rights Leader
    Huck Gutman – Former Chief of Staff for Senator Bernie Sanders
    Jane Kleeb – Environmental Activist
    Lucy Flores – Fmr. Nevada Assemblywoman
    Larry Cohen – Labor
    Catalina Velasquez – Immigration, Reproductive Justice and Trans Queer Liberation Activist
    Shailene Woodley – Actress and Environmental Activist

    1. Roger Snith

      I wouldn’t get anywhere near Ben Jealous–they should have kept him far away after his embarrassing Democracy Now! appearance.

    2. Portia

      I feel kinda bad for Nina Turner and Jim Hightower. I think maybe they were used as judas-goats.
      Anyway, Larry Cohen made a statement about OR not being about Jeff Weaver (or his decisions about how OR is run) which is so on board with abnegation of responsibility common with the DNC, so he can go hang, as far as I’m concerned.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Let me translate: Nina Turner and Jim Hightower are idiots. Really?

        As for “Larry Cohen” made a statement… Is there a link?

        I’m seeing an enormous amount of unfounded assertion on this thread, and comments like that are, frankly, of little value. We have as much noise as we need now, thank you very much.

  4. Adam1

    The problem is basic math. There are not very many very rich people. Once you’re addicted to their funds you can’t afford to loose any because they are too rare to readily replace. That translates into power and leverage that over time will morph the organization addicted to those funds. History shows that very rich people can afford to be patient and chisel away at the things they don’t like to eventually remold those things into their own image. Our Revolution may not have to worry about this corruption on day one, but they have taken on a vulnerability that I do not think they truly appreciate.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      They’ve taken on the vulnerability if and only if the 501(c)(4) works as detractors say it must. But that depends on the bylaws, as the interview points out. And I have yet to see anyone explain why another structure would be better. Anyone?

  5. Katharine

    Betteridge’s law.

    It feels like a sell-out, and if it can’t do effective electoral politics what is it for? I am reminded of Russ Feingold starting a noble progressive organization that ended up looking like something to give him and his senior staff salaries till they found new jobs. I’ve never felt the same about him since.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      that ended up looking like something to give him and his senior staff salaries till they found new jobs

      I can’t get that line-through edit thing to work on my computer but it wasn’t just “looking like” – that is exactly what Feingold’s thing was.

      1. diptherio

        Use the strike tag (like the “strong” tag when you bold something, only with “strike” instead of “strong”)

    2. Waldenpond

      This seems to follow on my interpretation of Sanders campaign… it’s about having a discussion, not winning elections. This looks more a retirement plan/think tank than anything else.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I agree. And, I predict, in the next year, Sanders will announce that he won’t be running for another term in the Senate.

        1. Portia

          I suspect the same. I would not be surprised if he has pissed off some people here (I am, anyway). It’s a bad omen and I see the resistance to large corp. grabbing disappearing among the remaining pols. Sigh.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          Could be. At least having pissed off the powers that be enough so they punish him enough to make his seat not worth keeping would mercifully dispose of the tiresome sheepdog meme.

  6. Chromex

    I simply cannot get over Sander’s endorsement of Clinton , nor his refusal to go after her. Clinton’s trade ond foeign policy views are precisely what needs to change about America, and the election of another candidate would not be the end of the world. The Dems ave become, except for a few :cultural” issues , as right wing as the republicans- I view Hillary as a more dangerous right wing threat to the US than Trump. From here, he looks like all the other democrat lefties that amounted to no more than a hill of beans once the primaries were over. Canova is certainly better than DWS but that’s not saying much. He is a typical craven democrat. The only way the dems can be reformed is not an organization like OP but through election rejection. Betrayal of the base as entrenched as this MUST be punished.
    For all the above reasons “Our revo;ution” has left me cold . And I was an enthusiastic Sanders supporter during the primaries, who donated, as were a number of my friends. None of us gave a fig about Our revolution, once the endorsements happened. Third party is it, the dems will go the way of the whigs eventually.
    I will have nothing to do with an organization whose founder endorsed a woman who, should she be elected, will prove to be the worst president of the us.
    I have switched my support to Stien but this country is in deep trouble in any event.

      1. Jay

        The group should be called “Our(My) Capitulation”. Seen Sanders cave in the past (such as on Obamacare). Was hoping Sanders was serious due to he is at retirement age and has little to lose. Proved a coward again. Stealing a quote from (the derided) Hamsher: “… who shake their fists in the air with outrage right before they fold, the people you can count on to always be there when there’s nothing they can do…and are nowhere to be found when they can.” I really can’t stomach (usual self serving capitulation) “hey it sucks but I got some pittance and it might be better than nothing (usually isn’t)” or other lesser evilism.

    1. NoBrick

      simply cannot get over Sander’s endorsement of Clinton , nor his refusal to go after her

      Those in the “same” boat, won’t bore a hole in it.

    2. Stormcrow

      I agree that “Our Revolution” is pretty weak tea and that Hillary is at least as dangerous as Trump. Bernie’s Our Revolution “issues” section lists 17 subjects, but they are all restricted to domestic concerns. Not a single one of them refers to foreign policy or war. This reflects a major weakness in Bernie’s vision and his campaign.

      I also doubt the conventional wisdom that “elections come and go.” We are rapidly reaching the point of no return on climate change, and WWIII may be just around the corner, certainly if Hillary is our next president. The third party movement that we need is struggling to be born, but does not seem to be going anywhere soon.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I also doubt the conventional wisdom that “elections come and go.”

        In what sense is that conventional wisdom? The conventional wisdom is that this election is the most important election in the history of the world.

        On foreign policy (i.e., the empire) I agree. However, I feel that Clinton, if elected, will give us all a chance to take our positions on that very shortly.

        1. Stormcrow

          “Clinton, if elected, will give us all a chance to take our positions on that very shortly.”

          And what kind of chance might that be?

          I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

          Why, so can I, or so can any man;
          But will they come when you do call for them?

          Henry The Fourth, Part I Act 3, scene 1, 52–58

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Well, if you think of yourself as a spirit, or waiting for somebody else to call you, there’s not much I can do for you. There are a lot of wedges waiting to be driven into the Democrat Party, and anti-war (really, anti-empire) is one of them.

        2. jrs

          Probably conventional wisdom for most people that elections come and go and if our team doesn’t win – we’ll just have to make the most of it until next time. Then again most won’t even vote. It’s not conventional wisdom for paid political operatives and for some political junkies.

          I think foreign policy may have been avoided because it was considered unwinnable. Maybe viewing the U.S. without empire takes nearly as much of a stretch as envisioning the world without fossil fuels. It’s not usually seen that way but just as the whole economy uses fossil fuels, the U.S. is fundamentally an empire. But empires have indeed come and gone.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m sorry you feel that way. Unfortunately, you didn’t read the label on the package, and so no wonder the product didn’t meet your expectations. Better luck next time!

  7. Norb

    The power of money and the power of ownership on display every day. In America, the ruling elite have always felt that those who own property should rule the population. That underlying fact is obfuscated to make it more palatable to the masses.

    Progressives battle over the control of mailing lists and how forcefully they should approach the owners of capital requesting a larger piece of the economic pie. The problem lies in the fact that the fundamental power structure stays in tact. The owners call the shots and the rest of us must submit to their demands.

    The education and movements that must be built are ones that take back ownership of common resources and support businesses with fair working conditions. Millionaires are millionaires because they reject that notion. Soliciting the support of millionaires is a waste of time, they already have the resources to affect change, but have chosen not to. Charity given after the fact is an evil because relieving the root problem is far more important. Charity can be viewed as a cover for bad action.

    Support for a radical left is the only way. Workers being co-owners in the factories and businesses where they work should be the middle ground. Forget 401-k scams. Resource flows need to be directed away from the wealthy.

    Starve the beast with strikes, boycotts, and support for other business models seems the way to go- not soliciting dark money. No faster way to co-option exists.

    1. flora

      ” Millionaires are millionaires because they reject that notion. ”

      Don’t be too sure that *all* millionaires are as you describe (aka short-sighted and greedy). Plenty of very successful people are disgusted with the current libertarian, neo-anarchy model of “capitalism” that’s destroying public k-12 schools, destroying roads and infrastructure, destroying Main Street, and hollowing out the defense strength of the country. (off-shoring manufacturing, bad trade deals).

      Progressives battle over the control of mailing lists and how forcefully they should approach the owners of capital requesting a larger piece of the economic pie. The problem lies in the fact that the fundamental power structure stays in tact.

      I agree completely. But, however, the contest is one, first, of ideas, imo. Pushing back against the Ayn Rand philosophy of selfishness; the Milton Friedman theory of neoliberal economics; is, imo, more important than dividing people based solely on wealth levels; of fighting people based on wealth levels. See:
      It’s clear now that Friedman’s neoliberal economics has failed for most people.

      But, as you say, for new ideas to gain traction, they must be expressed in the real world in more than “debating society” environments. OWS showed that. Think how many states raised their minimum wage after the OWS protests. (and people said OWS had no effect. it had a large effect.) The Sanders campaign showed that. (I don’t equate OR with the Sanders campaign )

      “Charity can be viewed as a cover for bad action.” The Clinton Foundation? ;)

      1. flora

        Merriam-Webster definition of ‘anarchy’ : ” a situation of confusion and wild behavior in which the people in a country, group, organization, etc., are not controlled by rules or laws”

        Clearly Wall St,, the TBTF banks, the Clinton Foundation, Hillary at the State Dept, etc are not controlled by rules or laws, while everyone below the level of TBTF or TBTJ are tightly controlled by rules and laws. That’s the meaning of my comment about “neo-anarchy” at the top in our current neoliberal economic paradigm. Whatever neo-anarchy is, it is not capitalism and it is not democracy.

    2. diptherio

      Support for a radical left is the only way. Workers being co-owners in the factories and businesses where they work should be the middle ground. Forget 401-k scams.

      Ironically, to my mind anyway, the US Federation of Worker Co-ops is currently setting up a joint 401(k) plan for worker-owners of member co-ops (USFWC is a co-op of co-ops). On the one hand, it’s understandable — everyone wants a retirement plan — but for anyone who reads this site regularly, it’s just depressing. Been trying to write up a blog entry on it, but it’s hard to know how to go about it.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        I do see the occasional opportunity to “invest” in co-ops: purchasing bonds to fund store improvements, Organic Valley sells bonds periodically, etc. I suppose there are not currently nearly enough “investment options” to provide a real “social capital” investment fund. But it seems like there ought to be a path for people to invest in, and help grow, co-ops and other truly social businesses.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, that’s the outside part of an inside/outside strategy. I’m all for co-ops. Many more co-ops! Nothing whatever about OR prevents more co-ops. Or anything else listed.

      Incidentally, there’s no evidence that any solicitation of dark money took place, and I’m really disappointed at the constant repetition of an unevidenced assertion; in fact, it makes me think that many such comments aren’t organic. I mean, if I wanted to smear organization X, that’s how I’d do it, eh? So, links or it didn’t happen., for example, is a 501(c)(4). It’s not my favorite organization, but has the parade of (imagined) horribles really happened with them>

  8. Eureka Springs

    The Board looks good. But this should be the last time a few people decide who is on the board.

    Yesterdays endorsements of candidates seemed like all awful choices. Once again, seemingly decided upon by a few..and self/issue/revolution defeating ta boot. See the entire history of Blue America/Down With Tyranny endorsements for lesson in failure for “All of us” 101.

    Aside from the important $ c this or c that questions… I’m much more interested in:

    How democratic will this O.Rev. be? Who is “Our”? For example, let’s say there is debate over whether to push for Single Payer or Tri Care on a universal/national level? How would that sort of debate take place and how would it be decided and by whom? And once democratically decided (constant internal polling within the list membership?) supported politicos (candidates or office holders) must represent or leave.

    What are the issues? Who decides? How can issues be added, amended, eliminated, etc.?

    Will they be like a platform? A list?

    Will Our Rev. members and endorsed candidates have to sign a pledge to represent the platform? Can they just abandon ship and endorse someone (say like Sanders did with Clinton or like Stein did by inviting Sanders to take Green leadership when Sanders had never been a supporter of cutting defense spending like the Green platform has consistently supported for a long time), endorse a Clinton type who holds none of said issues of any import and still remain in any sort of leadership/representative position?

    What are the standards/methods of holding feet to fire? Will the candle actually have a flame?

      1. Eureka Springs

        All of us – taken from the post. 101 meaning entry level… failed, so far.

        And we’ve been at this now for 30 years, and it’s time for somebody from those organizations, I would argue, to step back and ask, what has all that access really gotten us? Not you, us. All of us.

        For years I eagerly helped and tirelessly suppported the DWT /Blue America efforts and still appreciate much of thier analysis, but overall it has led to dismal failure for someone like me. Thus my abandonment of the entirely corrupt Dem/Prog/ corrupt, privat,e anti democratic party, mo and better etc. And my drumbeat for similar minds (some of us) to quit repeating failed ways.

  9. hemeantwell

    First of all, I think that Gandhi and Saul Alinsky had it right. I have a very old-fashioned view of this, that there’s a kind of chemical reaction that takes place when people meet face to face.

    This is sloppy on Alinsky, and I wonder if it’s a tell. I’ve recently heard a number of commentators strongly criticize the Alinsky approach to organizing. Sure, they make face to face contact, but the organizations that are created are led by organizing staff. There is little to no attempt made to make the organization “of the people,” and this sets up the kind of organizing that Jane MacAlevey, one of the strongest critics, characterizes as using workers for props, as illustrations of the plight of workers — “here, take this sign and stand in front of the camera” — instead of developing real strike-capable shop floor power that can then spill over into self-developing power in the community. In the case of SEIU, this allows union staff to threaten management to get organizing concessions, but workers themselves lack autonomy. The parallels with current functioning of the major political parties is obvious: you get people to make the minimal commitment of a vote and then engage in a process of issue negotiation among elites that transpires completely out of sight.

    MacAlevey has a good article at Jacobin. Her approach to organizing draws heavily on the very successful model used by the left in the 30s: you go in, talk to the workers who have the most respect, get them interested and talking to each other and build an organization based on the organic relations of influence in the community. And, it’s worth emphasizing that she’s actually been a successful organizer using these methods in the miserable union organizing climate of the past decade.

    1. Katharine

      Alinsky was a community organizer. It seems pointless to criticize his methods for not being good for developing “strike-capable shop floor power” when that is not what they were designed for.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      Jane MacAlevey is a great organizer but her core premise – that the basic problem with American unions today is not a function of political or economic structure but simply that they are not very good at organizing – is faulty. She is no doubt correct that the vast majority of paid union organizers are not as talented as the really good ones. But the notion that a continuous 70-year decline in union power is primarily a function of bad organizers and organizing is untenable.

      Which brings me to Our Revolution. I agree with Lambert – the mission has to be to carve out a Left identity and organizational structure distinct from the Democrats/liberals/pro-capitalists. Two necessary components to that (not the only two) are 1) institutional identification/support from at least some important unions and 2) organizational capacity that is more than just get-out-the-vote. At this point, I don’t see OR as having, or having a strategy to achieve, either of these.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Working through the adjuncts material for this morning’s post I noticed a lot of thinking along the lines of MacAlevey. Clearly, there’s some ferment… Please keep posting such material!

  10. Alex morfesis

    Not big on “revolution” and more prefer resolutions or refocusation…as to sanders “$elling” or “$ailing” out…blah blah blah…he wraped himself around a party he has never properly joined…it is part of the electoral process and not “bothered” by it…
    Just hope there are other organizations that spring up and this new thingee does not try to smother others or force everyone under its tent…

    The country needs an 888club…

    Three aggressive, stable and sustainable 3rd, 4th and 5th party options, each pulling 8 percent of the vote….

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Or reformation or recalibration…

      I’m mistrustful of romantic notions, and I think it’s always possible to make things worse. We have plenty of examples in the 20th century of revolutions that didn’t necessarily net out positive, and as for the French Revolution, it’s too soon to tell.

  11. Mark John

    The basic problem, an unfortunate component of the system, is that to participate in the system requires money.

    Beyond that, we are in an election year and perhaps the activation of the public is a (quite a?) bit higher than in other years. I have long memories of my 2014 hopes being dashed. (So much for the doors I knocked on, did not see a lot of other people on the ground.)

    When the heat of an election year dies down, are we still going to be there with our $27 donations and our bodies to keep organizing and moving forward? I hope so. If not, unfortunately, it is all too easy and even necessary to accept that one big check.

    This fight does not happen just once every four years, but every moment that passes, and the planet and real human lives depend on it.

    1. Portia

      Real human lives depend on it

      This just means to me that too many people have become accustomed to and expect to make a very good living in campaigning, thus it just gets more and more continuous. And thus more expensive. Can we take a look at what we are paying for with this money that “the system requires”? I can’t participate by throwing my limited funds any more down the voracious campaign maw.

      1. Mark John

        I understand your frustration. As a Marxist, I am merely giving an analysis of the current system.

        I furthermore have to acknowledge that the left is far weaker in this country than it was at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, so progressives are playing a game of catch-up.

        My major concern is that, according to Marx, we are very well at the latter stages of a capitalist period that is on the verge of collapse. Along with that, we now live in an extremely unpopular empire worldwide (full of citizens who actually think this is the most desirable country to live in). It should not be a surprise that populations flock to live behind the walls of an empire for relative safety.

        If progressives are going to offer a system that can pick up the pieces going forward, it is vital to have strong, viable political operations in place. If not, the alternative usually looks like Donald Trump, or worse.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Yep. Give me organizational capacity over romance any day. (And I’m not saying the Democrat establishment has organizational capacity, either. It’s taking immense efforts to prevent Clinton from crashing to earth. They’ve mustered all their resources, and they’ll probably drag her over the finish line, but I think she’ll be delegitimized from day one, and a good thing, too.)

    2. Joe Kapoe

      The basic problem, an unfortunate component of the system, is that to participate in the system requires money.

      Election reforms might go a long way such as requiring the media who use the public airwaves to give all the air-time that candidates need to run their campaigns for free. Knowing that much of the money I donate to a campaign ends up in the pockets of TV execs doesn’t make me too enthusiastic. A necessary evil? Having to fight about how much to spend on TV ads vs. shoe leather organising is because of this system.

      But I’m not too concerned about how the Our revolution entity had a rough take-off. In time they might add a 501(c) (3) component to the org, like an educational arm, which lots of non-profits do. If they, and more progressives start to insist on making foreign policy issues more prominent, it will be a good thing. It doesn’t help to consider foreign policy issues separate and unconnected to domestic issues.

  12. Robert Dannin

    the parsing of the meaning of a 501(c)(4) to “our revolution” suggests that the “tea party” is the model weaver (and jane) had in mind. this won’t work, especially if we’re talking about building a grassroots movement (distinguished from the “astroturf” strategies employed by dark money on behalf of the tea party).

    my personal understanding and support for the sanders candidacy was based on the ideas he articulated last november in his speech on democratic socialism at georgetown in which he acknowledged the near impossibility of any kind of left congressional consensus in the near to midterm future. the rationale for his candidacy was that control of the executive branch of government would provide the necessary leverage for a mass movement to force the legislative and judicial branches to implement permanent popular reforms. his statements implied that his attorney general would safeguard the public’s right to mass demonstrations with the presumed goal of finishing what the 1965 march on washington for jobs and equality began.

    alinsky is still relevant but the real mentors for a peaceful revolution are bayard rustin and mlk jr

    bernie met the revolution … and blinked. time to move on.

    1. diptherio

      I’ve never forgiven Alinsky for the “Ends and Means” chapter in Rules for Radicals. I think much of what’s wrong with left politics can be traced back to that BS.

      1. Alejandro

        There’s a difference between tactics and “strategy”. IMHO, Alinsky was a master tactician, his skill and knowledge was organizing and recognizing effective tactics. Although the distinction can become blurred “in the heat of battle”, IMO it seems unfair to demonize him for not being a better “strategist”. His skills and knowledge in community organizing, especially as a tactician, again IMHO, seem as relevant today, maybe even more so than when he was alive. As far as strategy, he did seem to repeatedly emphasize the source of power being people and/or money, and he did seem to repeatedly repudiate the contrast between the “haves” and the “have-nots”.

    2. alex morfesis

      to say I am not an alinsky fan is a great understatement…bumped into the chameleon organizations his “students” created in chicago…not my idea of “community” anything…

      and considering how the father of james earl jones was blacklisted in hollywood for basically just doing a series of plays in harlem on 125th street with Langston Hughes at the Harlem Suitcase Theater in the old IWO facility (“Don’t you want to be free” / Em-Fuerer Jones)…

      yet “dangerous radical” Captain Saul was able to keep going and going like that battery company bunny rabbit, leaving me to have questions as to which side of the table he was really on…

      but, as I have learned in life, since I was not there, all I know is what the victors left behind in the history books…

      but before he was famous for his at deaths door book in 1971, he wrote this…Reveille for Radicals…

  13. James McFadden

    It seems that OR’s initial organizational purpose is to keep progressives busy and out of the way until after Clinton is elected — to give Bernie a tiny platform — and to keep us from jumping to a third party. However, its ultimate purpose will be to pay six figure salaries to the top Bernie campaign people to keep them employed till the next election cycle when they will jump ship to work for Bernie’s campaign, or for Democratic candidates that Bernie supports. This seems to be the model for modern campaigning — you need a holding pen to pay your guys, your insiders, till the next election cycle. The campaigns can’t afford to keep them on. The holding pen is either a non-profit, a foundation, or a think-tank — all of which are just tax-free corporations that are fronts for one of the two major political parties. Big $$ donors can give unlimited funds to keep the holding pen filled with their guys and to make sure the propaganda produced by the holding pen is compatible with their strategies. Clearly it is an inside strategy no matter what Bernie supporters are being told. Good old Bernie appears unwilling to release his creation to the wild in the hope it will flourish — better to keep it caged, under his control with his insiders in charge.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      We’ll come back in a year and revisit.

      Incidentally, to release his organization “into the wild” is also to release its key data: The list. Are you saying that the list should be released? By your logic, shouldn’t it be?

      1. James McFadden

        I’m just describing what I see in the political world. Your question “what should be?” is a world view and/or moral question. On such questions I generally side with altruism – with actions that benefit the most people in the long run — because selfish, short-term driven behavior is clearly not working – it is destroying democracy and the environment. Bernie should organize something beneficial to progressives and let it go. Bernie is an old dude – and his re-election is just about guaranteed. Why does he need to retain control? Why not create something new and creative — and give up control? What currently exists isn’t working – so why not experiment? Why not create an organization with no Democratic Party “insiders” and no allegiance to Dems? Why not an organization with by-laws explicitly limiting individual contributions to some minimal number, say $200/year, so the rich never gain control? Why not a networked grass roots organization with local autonomy and national coordination? Why not an organization where everyone who donates some minimal amount, say $25, gets a vote on the direction and goals for the organization? Why not a PAC that can directly support third party progressive candidates? Why not a pledge that candidates must sign before they get that support – a living pledge that evolves as the organization grows – that candidates must sign up for yearly? Why not a rotating board of directors with a majority elected at the local level? Why not an organization where staff sign a pledge not to jump ship for a major party campaign on penalty of forfeiture of future pension benefits? Why not an organization where no-one gets a 6 figure salary? And as far as the list goes – he should give it up to the organization. If the organization thrives, the list will grow and be more valuable. And if Bernie starts getting too conservative in his voting, this new creation should be willing to support a more progressive candidate against him.
        On the other hand, based on this article, it sounds like OR is going in the wrong direction.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Sure, but let’s move altruism to down to cases. The biggest asset on what we might term Our Revolution’s balance sheet is the list. Therefore, altruism would seem to dictate that the list be released for all to use (so that, for example, the Green Party, which has been unable to develop its own infrastucture, might be gifted with one. Not that matters are that simple, since the list needs to be maintained, etc.) However, surely the donors themselves should be consulted on that point? I don’t see the moral difference between handing the list to the DCCC and handing it out to everybody, from the perspective of the people on the list.

          As far as the Counterpunch article: This is a local group. It isn’t Our Revolution speaking institutionally, as in giving an endorsement. If you want endorsements, you get Zephyr Teachout, say. And the people screaming veal pen are missing the fact that Hamsher ran her own very successful veal pen on behalf of the public option. So, cum grano salis.

          1. Skippy

            Market price mechanics is always going to trump any other metric at this place in time e.g. its damn near irrevocably embedded its self into the raison d’être of not only civilization, but how its governed politically.

          2. James McFadden

            I would have to disagree with you that the list is the most valuable asset. The list is only valuable if your primary goal is to raise more money or amplify your candidates vote by 1% or 2% on election day. That won’t change the world – or save it. Eventually raising money and getting your candidate elected becomes the goal – and the candidates become no different than those from the major parties. The real political goals of creating enlightened citizens who participate regularly in political actions and democratic process is lost – exchanged for control of “the list” so a small number of people have more power to manipulate the system. Raising money becomes an end in itself for most of these 501c organizations. I get dozens of emails every day with another call for: “All hands on deck – click hear to send an email to your rep on this important issue – then on to the donation page so we can pay the salary of those waiting in the holding pen for the next election cycle.”

            The most valuable assets are the activists who are willing to donate time organizing and educating the public so that we have an educated critical mass when the opportunity for progressive change happens. Such organizing takes decades – it takes stamina – and those who do it are amazing individuals who do more for society than all the political hacks who spend their days raising money and manipulating us into voting for the lesser-of-two evils. I’ve only been doing this kind of work part time for half a dozen years – and it is hard work. That grass root team that Bernie assembled – some of whom I know – that was what he had that was valuable – not the list – and he dissed them at the convention. If Bernie continues to allow Weaver to organize OR around “the list”, then OR will begin a death spiral – another meaningless 501c holding pen. But if OR is instead organized into a grass root movement that recruits and supports the most progressive candidates independent of party affiliation, then it might evolve into something important. But it looks like that won’t happen.

            Without a real movement that educates the public and promotes democratic participation, our society is doomed to plutocracy and environmental disaster where … “The oppressive effect of the prevailing market moralities leads to a form of sleepwalking from womb to tomb, with the majority of citizens content to focus on private careers and be distracted with stimulating amusements. They have given up any real hope of shaping the collective destiny of the nation. Sour cynicism, political apathy, and cultural escapism become the pervasive options.” Cornel West
            And then we have Collapse….

            1. Skippy

              Billions in advertising is hard to swim upstream against… eh…

              Disheveled Marsupial…. especially when anything that threatens profits is an ideological bulls eye…. are the bases covered or what – ??????

            2. Norb

              Organizations that focus on education and building strong community ties is a possible way forward. The organizations can’t just be about politics per say, they must be centered around quality of life promotion.

              The key to my mind is getting small to mid-sized businesses focused on joining forces with their workforce in a positive way. Educating people on how the flow of money and resources really work. Communities and networks becoming truly self sufficient and sustaining is the key and willing people will be lined up in droves.

              Public schools have been a rallying point for families and makes privatization of education all the more destructive. You end up paying twice, once with taxes to support the schools, and secondly, in supplying materials, time, and added fees to support the services that once were provided by your tax payment. As the money is skimmed off by the owners, the citizen is left to fend for themselves.

              Its simply supporting organizations that aren’t predicated on skimming and avoiding individuals that are trying to promote the extortion.

              It will take business buying into the merits of this system and individual citizens channeling their time and resources in creating and maintaining them.

  14. Watt4Bob

    My back of the envelope computation says about 80% of Bernie supporters have been rather completely demoralized by his ‘failure’ to earn the nomination.

    And add to this the naive assumption that what has gone so wrong with our politics can be ‘fixed’ within the span of one presidential election cycle.

    Now add a healthy dose of defeatism, and stir.

    IMHO, Sanders has given us a chance to begin what will be an arduous process of taking back the political control of our nation from very rich, powerful, and determined people who, over the past fifty years or so have used our collective apathy and laziness to seize, and gain near absolute control over us.

    Sanders has demonstrated the direction where the possibility lies, now, we must understand it’s just the beginning, and continue to work towards that possibility, and quit doubting the man’s sincerity, and honesty.

    All this carping about being ‘let-down’ or ‘sold-out’ is a pathetic reaction to what has occurred, which is actually something we should be celebrating.

    Sanders did not let us down, he’s done a remarkable job of proving that we still have a chance, and giving us a glimpse of what sort of effort will be required to take advantage of that chance.

    It looks to me as if many of us had become heavily invested in a fantasy that Bernie was going to vanquish the dragons and carry us all to victory on his back.

    That’s a childish, and self-defeating take on what we’ve just witnessed.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      We have the Fainting Couch™… And then the Barca-Lounger of Despair™ … And then the Porcelain Throne of Cynicism™…. All on ample display.

      Now, if my head were a bit cooler, I’d classify a lot of the more vehement reactions as a “Dog Won’t Eat the Dogfood” problem, and try to consider what OR should do to solve it (while also boostrapping itself and getting involved in an election, after having been in existence all of a month).

        1. Skippy

          Twenty one pilots: Stressed Out [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

          Adult Size Big Wheels provided by High Roller USA


          I wish I found some better sounds no one’s ever heard,
          I wish I had a better voice that sang some better words,
          I wish I found some chords in an order that is new,
          I wish I didn’t have to rhyme every time I sang,

          I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink,
          But now I’m insecure and I care what people think.
          My name’s ‘Blurryface’ and I care what you think

          Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
          When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.

          Sometimes a certain smell will take me back to when I was young,
          How come I’m never able to identify where it’s coming from,
          I’d make a candle out of it if I ever found it,
          Try to sell it, never sell out of it, I’d probably only sell one,

          It’d be to my brother, ‘cause we have the same nose,
          Same clothes homegrown a stone’s throw from a creek we used to roam,
          But it would remind us of when nothing really mattered,
          Out of student loans and treehouse homes we all would take the latter.

          My name’s ‘Blurryface’ and I care what you think

          Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
          When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.

          We used to play pretend, give each other different names,
          We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away,
          Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face,
          Saying, “wake up, you need to make money.”

          Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
          When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.


    2. Fiver

      No. I was very likely the first person here on NC to flag Clinton as a very weak, not unbeatably strong candidate, one who was headed for the rocks courtesy of the e-mail revelations and Operation Infinite Crony. She is as damaged as goods get without being tossed. Only Trump has been able to salvage her campaign from the scrapyard.

      I gave Sanders all the credit and respect he was due given the positions he took and the fight he made on them – which by my book were modestly ‘progressive’ on domestic issues, but still hopelessly pro-Empire otherwise. However, when it became evident that not only was the entire mainstream political-media complex out to neuter him, but that the Party and some Dem-controlled States actively colluded to steal the nomination, he had a fundamental choice, and instead of aligning himself with the ‘movement’ and the millions of people he ‘inspired’ he chose to stay safe and play insider baseball. And that cost him dearly with respect to his own reputation and further claim to leadership, as is evident everywhere it very badly damaged the progressive standard of integrity of thought, values and actions around which so many desperately hopeful people had rallied.

      It’s not as if an acutely negative reaction wasn’t to be anticipated. Of course it was. I certainly saw one coming. I pleaded here repeatedly before the Convention that he not do what he in fact did for the very evident reasons just stated. To even attempt to portray such a reaction a ‘childish’ or ‘self-defeating’ is to turn reality on its head.

      I begin to think what’s required is a different mechanism entirely – one which builds majoritarian positions around vital issues irrespective of some ‘party’ affiliation. The people are already ‘there’ on most of them, it’s the professional Parties that are not.

      1. Yves Smith

        I differ with your assessment.

        1. Sanders NEVER NEVER NEVER promised to found a movement. This is a projection by his supporters. He ran as a Presidential candidate and said, “No one, even a President, can do this alone. It takes a revolution.” He never once said he would lead that revolution.

        2. The fact is that the left has wielded more power being outside the party apparatus than being inside. Sanders as a politician and only a former activist from his youth, when strategies and norms were different, is ill suited to lead a a revolution. His campaign supporters are trying to cast him in a role which is a poor fit and which he never led them to think he’d take up, until very late and basically due to a void that someone needed to fill. He’s being overly responsible and you folks have the temerity to criticize him for taking on major responsibilities he never once said he’d assume while campaigning. It’s like asking a ballerina to be a gymnast. Different body type, different training, different career paths.

        1. Fiver


          1) Change ‘movement’ to ‘his supporters’. If Sanders wasn’t trying to start something, what was he doing? See (2).

          2) And how many votes would Sanders have received had he said:

          “Please people. Please. Thank you. Thank you. Friends, friends. Dear friends. Thank you.

          I’m here today to announce I am not a serious candidate, just a candidate, I am not in this to win, just in it. That’s right, I am IN it. I am on the ballot, and I’m going to travel this country from one end to the other to let people know this is a good vehicle, a good opportunity for me to tell Americans like you and so many, many more around the country that someone has to lead a revolution, and if you agree, you can vote for me, so then we’ll know if that’s an idea someone ought to pursue somewhere down the line. And then, of course, regardless of what happens along the way, I’ll support Hillary, because by ‘revolution’ I mean one that, obviously, includes her. Oh, and I suppose Chelsea’s turn, too.”

          Not even a moth would’ve been drawn to so feeble a light as that – of course, people aren’t moths, but in need will certainly welcome a bright beacon in the darkness. That they might despair, or otherwise react when that light is extinguished can scarcely be unexpected. Lesson: Do not turn on the light unless you mean it.

  15. Andrew Watts

    The people who casually throw around the term transformative politics are idealistic dreamers who fantasize about a world where self-interest, individual or collective, no longer ends in adversarial conflict. Or they ignore how big of a role it plays in politics in the first place. In either case they’re non-factors in the political arena.

    Political campaigns exist only to serve the self-interest of the candidate and a small circle of individuals who have tied themselves to the candidate. Who always wins even when the candidates lose? The organizers and consultants if they play their cards right. Campaigns are wholly different from governing and policy-making and shouldn’t be confused as such.

    It seems like “Our Revolution” has not transcended Bernie’s failed political campaign. Especially given the turmoil and arguably cringe-worthy missteps in the beginning. But I could be wrong.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I wish people would make up their minds. Either OR is the product of “idealistic dreamers” or OR “exists only to serve the self-interest of the candidate.” Which is it?

      1. flora

        Who knows. I take to heart Bernie’s saying that change starts at the grassroots, not at the top. For a long time I focused on the top. I did the dKos new-and-better Dems thing. The Dems had full control of Congress and the Oval Office after Obama got elected. And then….. In the meantime, I took my eye off what was happening in my state, my local area. And things here have gotten much, much worse, by any measurement you’d care to use.
        I don’t need another national top-down umbrella organization as a focus. Now I’m focusing on my state ( heaven knows, there’s a lot of economic and political damage to clean up). Several years ago the Kochs said that the action now was in the states. They’ve gotten big neoliberal changes thru at the state level that have devastated public education, counties and cities; threatened the independence of the judiciary; hurt new business formation and the overall business climate; hurt Main Street, etc. Time for me to focus on rolling back the damaging neoliberal changes in my home state.

        1. flora

          rolling back the damage means voting out the worst Koch/ALEC backed legislators ( who focus almost exclusively on out-of-state corporations’ wishes) and voting in legislators – both Dem and GOP – who are focused on what is good for the whole state, not just good for a few corporations.

    1. Roger Smith

      This was one of my biggest concerns: are they going to behave like the DCCC?

      Apparently yes (at least in this case and based on the signals I am receiving). Sorry Bernie but I don’t really want to vote for anyone with an R or D by their name. The individuals may be fine, but it is the corporate entity they work for, that is validated by them winning that no one should support.

    1. Waking Up

      Jane Hamsher wrote an article in 2011 which still applies in 2016:

      She stated, “Whenever the talk of a primary comes up, I always ask “who is going to do this?” The answer is always someone like Bernie Sanders or Jan Schakowsky, the same people whose job it is to put the Good Liberal Housekeeping Seal of Approval on whatever piece of neoliberal *$#@ the White House cooks up to please the bond vigilantes. The people who suddenly become okay with war when the White House says so, who shake their fists in the air with outrage right before they fold, the people you can count on to always be there when there’s nothing they can do…and are nowhere to be found when they can.” Further, “If you want my attention, tell me how you’re going to take out Bernie Sanders or Jan Schakowsky or Raul Grijalva or Peter Welch. Let me know how you plan to send a message and enforce discipline with the people who claim to represent your values, but betray them over and over again because they have no fear whatsoever of you. Dennis Kucinich is getting redistricted out of office, so the other side certainly knows how to make themselves heard. Message received.”

      Ignoring a real progressive candidate such as Matt Funiciello in favor of a former Republican, now Democrat, should tell people the direction that Bernie Sanders and his “chosen” want to take “Our Revolution”. Jane Hamsher’s advice should be heeded.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I bet if you asked Hamsher whether Jan Schakowsky would get 45% of the vote, prove a completely new non-corporate funding model, and start a new organization to fund candidates outside the DNC umbrella, she would have laughed in your face and said “That’s impossible.”

        So, if Sanders isn’t a “real progressive” — whatever “progressive” might mean — than I guess give me Sanders.

        There’s a genre of comments on this thread that says “Sanders didn’t support [favored candidate | favored cause],” so f*ck him. (That is, it’s not enough to support Zephyr Teachout (not supported by Clinton) or Nina Turner (insulted by Clinton), but “No, no. These too!” These are judgment calls, and these tiny little carping and whining criticisms really just waste readers time.

        I think the fact that Sanders is a politician is a plus. He knows something about wielding power, which is what it takes. Kucinich didn’t, which is why he is no longer in politics. (Incidentally, every critique Hamsher makes of Sanders applies to her own practice. I remember very well who and what blog took SEIU money to suppress single payer advocacy. Purity tests come very ill from Hamsher.)

        1. two beers

          If Our Revolution is a Democrat Party organization, of course they’re entirely in their right to support Democrat Party candidates, and not support candidates from other parties.

          If they’re a progressive Democrat Party organization, they’re entirely in their right not to support Funiciello, but it would be enormously disingenuous to support Derrick.

          If they’re a nondenominational progressive party, then they should be endorsing Funiciello, not Derrick.

          So, which of three are they? Or are they something else?

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            I’ve said it’s an Inside/Outside strategy. If you think that the Democrat Establishment is happy that Sanders is setting up his own self-funded organization, not giving him the list, and supporting candidates that the Establishment does not support (like Zephyr Teachout), then think again.

            Or is Zephyr Teachout, who ran against Cuomo, part of the great veal pen conspiracy?

            1. two beers

              Logical fallacy and ad hominem? Lambert, I’m honored!

              Yes, Our Rev supports some progressives. As long as they’re Democrats. But it also supports rightwingers, as long as they’re Democrats. You can’t honestly call yourself a progressive organization if you’re supporting people like Derrick.

              If OR presents itself as merely a Democrat organization, there would be no quibbles with their support of Derrick. But how can you call yourself a progressive organization if you support rightwingers?

              As a Democrat organization, there’s obviously no obligation to support an outsider. But as a progressive organization, there is an essential obligation not to support rightwingers.

              Did you follow the link above to the counterpunch article?

        2. Eureka Springs

          I think Jane would be the first to say Impressive! In re Sanders fundraising and votes garnered but it does not in any way make her words then wrong about Sanders, wrong about us leftward types. She nailed it, nailed him too. So after “Impressive” she would say I told you so… wish I had been wrong.

          She wasn’t stuck on the definition of progressive, she was saying he will screw you after a lousy love fest. And he did. As you pointed out all along the way, he promised to do so. But doing it so early and with such fervor in favor of Clinton… well Jane couldn’t have hit the bulls-eye with any less accuracy. He smooth talked then dumped everything/ every issue he said he believed in…and told anyone who would listen they best do the same.

          Honestly, would you buy a used car from that kind of con man? Again?

          Just because you were and are right about seiu and the dismal performance of fdl in re the public option doesn’t weaken any point she made in that particular post.

          And talk about a meaningless word… Purity. Come on. There is nothing pure about any of this. Just people looking for consistency and finding they are consistently conned. Yeah, we’ll all get fooled again, but we’re Rahm’s/Sanders/Prog/Dims special kind of effing idiots if we keep getting fooled the same way over and over again.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            So much fervor he hasn’t hit the campaign trail yet for Clinton, right?

            So much fervor the first message house parties got was anti-TPP, right?

            So much fervor he held onto the list the Democrats want, right?

            Serisously, what do you want? Our Revolution not to exist? To be set up in different form? To always meet your expecations?

            Sanders is a politician, much better than most. That is exactly what I, personally, want him to be. Imperfect? Yes. Most are, because otherwise they’d be saints. Best available? No question in my mind. What strikes me as bizarre is the fervent hatred you express. “Con man”? Really?

            1. Roger Smith

              So much fervor he hasn’t hit the campaign trail yet for Clinton, right?
              So much fervor the first message house parties got was anti-TPP, right?
              So much fervor he held onto the list the Democrats want, right?

              I agree that these details are important, but the Bernie Sanders campaign was always about the visual exposure of a change in our governance. He was likely never to change policy, though he would have been the solid foothold with which to start. I believe what was most important about his campaign was being a visual pillar for the public to pull themselves out of the muck and crap with–giving people hope and the ability to trust again. No he isn’t a god or anything, but regardless of the super hero meme, society is currently hung on singular archetypes and that will not end any time soon. Bernie Sanders needed to win in order to create a starting point, a beacon for other people to latch onto or look back and see that, “well it isn’t all total crap”. Now they’ll get to look back and, if Sanders is even mentioned in history texts, see a lovely message about party unity or some other bollocks.

              I think he failed this movement, and badly. In the public eye he sold it down the river by using that venue to lavishly endorse a candidate almost diametrically opposed to him. And what reason did he offer, what was so bad he had to dismantle his beliefs (or at least those implied by his campaigne)? The Democratic think tank “Trump” excuse, even though there are other options out there for people, he snapped right into shape with TPTB (again, visually). (for the record I do not think he was a sheepdog–at least not intentionally?) The public needed him to take a stand and push back–on the emails, on the election fraud, on Clinton et al., the whole corrupt system, regardless of “Trump”, because it was the right thing to do. (It was alarming seeing the mistakes before the endorsement).

              None of those items you mentioned are readily viewable to the public eye. Yes, they should dig deeper and be more informed, but look at the lack of tools they have to work with or, even further, the BS stressors put on them to keep them from finding the tools to use. And do these things really outweigh his endorsement, that visual component? Most likely not to people looking at the visual cues. The damage is likely done.

              Regardless of whether or not people should “look for the hero” or not focus on the just the visual (in a perfect world they would not), they do. They need a reason to believe, and telling them that voting is their responsibility [rah rah rah!] (not you; general life observations) is meaningless when you are disenfranchised to the game you know is rigged to keep you dumb and to kick you in the teeth even if you are informed.

              Sanders failed to maintain the integrity of the image he established with his campaign and was clearly not the best candidate for this job. I hope the positive aspects outweigh the embarrassing whimper of an end. If not I fear he will have hurt meaningful progressive movement for the future.

              1. Yves Smith

                I am really tired of this sort of thing. A lifelong avowed Socialist with no name recognition nationally when he started and no big money backers whatsoever, whose campaign was dismissed as silly and hopeless when he starte, got 44-45% of the Democratic party vote despite the media ignoring him, then lying about his positions and understating his successes, and massive cheating in CA an NY.

                You’d declare Jesus Christ a failure because he didn’t topple the Roman Empire during his lifetime.

                Did you manage to forget that Hillary was supposed to be coronated? Sanders created a moment and a debate that didn’t exit before. Numerous pundits have said Sanders won because people under 40 overwhelmingly support the policies he advocated. It’s cool for high school kids to say they are socialists. He made staggering progress in terms of shifting perceptions of what was possible. Sanders won the future. The battle to move the country to the right took nearly 20 years. It started with Goldwater and reached its fruition with the election of Reagan. Your expectations of Sanders are insane and bear no relationship to political and ideological timetables. Sanders was vastly more effective than Goldwater in moving the political center of gravity, but you diss that because he didn’t deliver on your unreasonable expectations of how much change can be achieved in less than a year (the exception being a president in a time of national crisis…)

                1. Archie

                  When Bernie first declared himself a primary challenger, I was pleasantly amused since he is the only senator who unabashedly referred to himself as a socialist, of the democratic stripe or other. For once, I thought, we’ll start hearing about the real issues confronting our society. I never thought he could win, but I hoped that he might seriously expose the Democrat party for the corrupt sleazeballs they are and my greatest hope was that the Democrat party would be destroyed by his campaign. Coincidentally, I was also hoping that the Republican circus would also lead to self-destruction, which currently looks like a decent bet.

                  During his campaign, Bernie progressively (no pun intended) became more pointed in his criticism of the Dem party at his rallies. He reinforced what a lot of people already knew, that the system was rigged in favor of the oligarchs and that the corrosive effects of the Citizen United ruling, as well as the increasing coziness of the DNC with Wall Street and squillionaire PAC organizations, compromised everything that the D party had long stood for. He called out Hillary on these issues, as well as many environmental issues and TPP during the debates. And the people hearing these messages and attending his rallies across the country were not only “leftist” democrats. There were a bunch of conservative republicans listening and a huge number of independents and new voters. They didn’t care that he was unknown nationally or that he was a “socialist” or even a democrat. They only cared about his message and they gave what they could afford to support his campaign because it was a breath of fresh air in the politics of America which has been dominant for a generation, or more.

                  So from a politician’s point of view, or the pov of a political campaign, Bernie really did accomplish more than could “reasonably be expected”. But from the point of view of the 44-45% of people who were allowed to vote for him in the primaries and have them graciously recorded, Bernie was an icon, not a politician.

                  Since the end of the primary a lot of what Bernie has said and done contradicts what he said during his campaign and reinforces the idea in the minds of those 44-45%, that he is just a politician after all. That’s the bitter pill to be swallowed and it does not cause “hatred” of Bernie or his “Our Revolution”. But it sure as hell gives pause in many minds and hearts. Are they naive, or just desperate? Either way they are certainly disappointed, and justifiably so. People are not politicians, and try as hard as the Grand Wurlitzer might, they don’t think like them either.

              2. JTFaraday

                “I think he failed this movement, and badly. In the public eye he sold it down the river by using that venue to lavishly endorse a candidate almost diametrically opposed to him.”

                I somewhat disagree with your whole take on this. One thing everyone agrees emerged during the– I think pretty unexpected, and therefore “make it up as you go along”– Sanders campaign, is that there is still a huge rift in perceptions between white (and male) Sanders supporters and the black (and female) electorate that went with Clinton, primarily out of fear of a Trump planet and because they believe she will win, as the establishment candidate.

                Trump is only a non-issue to you. The stuff he puts forth and brings out of others and works to render legitimate makes other people very nervous. If nothing else, HRC doesn’t agree racist hate mongering is legitimate.

                If Sanders had appeared to back planet Trump by default, by not appearing to support those remaining D-Party voters he did not win over given the “economics first, last, always– and maybe only– BECAUSE IT WILL AUTOMAGICALLY SOLVE** ALL YOUR PROBLEMS” aftertaste his troops left in everyone’s mouth, then “YOUR Revolution” will only have an even harder time getting off the ground… because you’re just that much more unbearable to your fellow citizens.

                Democratic pluralism is tough. If anybody knows that, Bernie Sanders does. The way I see it, in the longer scheme of things, Bernie did you a favor by not being willing to alienate the other camp(s). I’m not saying anyone has to actually go vote for Clinton or otherwise support the D-Party. That’s not for BS to decide.

                Also, and this is not an ageist statement, this is just reality: Sanders is 74 years old. It’s not going to be Bernie’s revolution.

                ** Yeah right.

                1. JTFaraday

                  Or to put it another way, your assumption is that a figurehead has to throw up a big sign and lead. My assumption is these pluralistic groups of citizens are going to have to come together.

            2. Eureka Springs

              I have casual friends who are used car salesmen, that doesn’t mean I want them on city council or in higher positions. And I sure don’t hate them or Sanders. Moving from purity to hate… two awfully powerful, distracting words… which keep people from discussing issues.

              Politicians as we know them…. have got to go. They should be nothing but bound and obligated representatives of issues/platforms decided upon by the members of an organization/party/electorate… which should be set as much as possible long before a campaign even begins.

              By Sanders own set positions he punted. The Clintons, the party kicked him to the curb, he defended her/them through all sorts of cons.. the election primary process and those damned emails come to mind quickly. He protected, defended and then promoted them for doing so. If that doesn’t make him part of the con, then I don’t know what would.

              His messaging, and staying on issues for a long time was better than most. But as I and Jane and many others have pointed out… the results are the same. Sanders-Lucy/Charlie Brown – Prog Demos. He (like Kucinich during ACA) got right up to the point of wielding real power based on his stated convictions and punted (for Clinton in fear of Trump before and during the convention) instead. If being bewildered, gun shy and unwilling to reward that again and again is some sort of purity, so be it.

              As I tried to sputter out early in this thread… we need an entirely improved (actually) democratic process both in our organizations as well as in the real system. I’m almost purely accustomed to losing with minority views, but the manner in which I/we lose or win has got to change.

              1. Monte McKenzie

                We supported Bernie , we are sorry …he turned his back on us to support the worst of all HC,
                We are part of that group that has signed up for jill. she is the only candidate that we can trust to make an effort for us, if we can get her to the finish line ahead of all the trash!

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Dennis Kucinich

        Ah yes, Dennis Kucinich. I remember the health care battle of 2009, when Obama took Kucinich up in Air Force One, and showed him the horses head, maybe. Whatever, but Kucinich, one-time single payer advocated, was whipping for ObamaCare on the House floor the very next day.

        Contrast Sanders in 2009. He held out as long as he could, and got community health centers that delivered health care to 20 million more people put into the bill.

        Who’s more pure? Kucinich. Who was not in the veal pen? Definitely Kucinich.

        Who was the better politician? Sanders. Who delivered more concrete material benefits to people, especially working people? Definitely Sanders.

        Hamsher was wrong all up and down the line on health care, and Hamsher was wrong on both Kucinich and Sanders too, as people who familiarize themselves with the historical record know.

        1. Jay

          Since Obamacare is piece of shit I did not want passed, I say fuck the community health center “crumbs”. And I thought you were the “ObamaCare Clusterfuck” guy.

  16. MojaveWolf

    I’m neither (anywhere near) as optimistic as the initial post and a few of the OR backers seem nor as pessimistic as some of the people who think it’s already a failure.

    I really liked the broadcast portion of the Our Revolution viewing party I went to, and it was interesting to meet the people there, and it was MUCH better than what I expected/feared. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have qualms, and being a little too “yay Democratic party!” was one of them (more from the meeting than the broadcast, and very explicable from the fact that the hosts were registered democrats who showed no signs of switching to “No Party Affiliation”, so not holding that against the whole organization, at least not yet). And I very much like what I know of some of the board members. But …

    Our Revolution could could easily tilt in either what I would consider a wonderful or a horrible direction (with somewhere in between being no more likely than either extreme), and I certainly don’t see even the faintest whiff of one of the themes being “punish the Dems for putting up godawful candidates and rigging primaries in favor of them over better ones”, which I personally think would be a valuable component. I don’t think we necessarily have to choose between access and pressure type advocacy, but if we must, given who we’d be having access to, I’d MUCH prefer pressure. I’ve seen plenty of people from environmental groups w/”access” describe meetings where they were basically treated like small children who didn’t understand the importance of sucking up to moneyed interests. I’d rather be treated like a potentially dangerous adult who might start throwing rocks than a little kid who needs to be patted on the head, thank you. People will make concessions to the rock throwers, sometimes (also, it’s important that they know you really are willing to throw those metaphorical rocks and/or take over w/them so you’d be the one making the concessions; if it’s all posturing or bluff and the opposition knows it, well, see Syriza).

    Which leads me to yesterdays e-mail, from which I quote:

    And that’s why I’m asking you to support them: Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania, Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire, Ted Strickland in Ohio, and Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada. If these four Democrats win the tight elections they are currently in, the Democrats will almost certainly take control of the Senate.

    Not, technically, from OR, but does have Bernie’s name attached, and it GREATLY increases my misgivings. Hassan was all in for HRC from the git-go, MCGinty is just godawful and one of the worst people we have running and I’d rather the Republican won whatever their politics may be simply because the DNC should be punished for backing this nightmare of awfulness, and Bernie leaving Alan Grayson hanging w/no endorsement against PATRICK MURPHY but throwing his weight behind Ted Strickland? (no comment on NV bcoz I know nothing about Masto)

    Meanwhile, the OR page STILL doesn’t have Jesse T Smith listed for endorsement, even though he came out swinging early for Bernie in Alabama, where he had nothing to gain from this endorsement, helped fight the “minorities don’t back Bernie” garbage, and he’s veteran and seems like a really good guy. Alan Grayson also backed Bernie, and has GREAT politics. So the whole Dem establishment came down his head with one of the worst intra-party smear campaigns in my memory and not a peep?

    Call me a purity freak or whatever, but this is all really ticking me off and giving me misgivings about whoever is running OR and what’s left of Bernie’s personal organization. If he gave someone permission to use his name for this garbage, he needs to have a word with them.And you can say all you want to me about “control of the senate” “the supreme court” blah blah whatever, but if we keep closing ranks behind awful pieces of garbage that the DNC goes out of their way to make sure trounces actual worthwhile candidates in the primary, they’re going to keep putting up awful candidates. Who will keep enacting the policies we’re supposedly putting them in to stop.

    Where is the benefit in what they are doing now?

    Y’all always talk about how dysfunctional the Greens are, and I haven’t met up w/any Green organizations yet, but I’m struggling to see how they could manage a bigger dysfunction than take all this energy and direct it towards electing Katherine McGinty. What’s next, an e-mail telling us why Tim Kaine is the right man for the VP job?

    Again, it’s early and positive changes can happen, but I’m starting to lean more toward the skeptics. At the very least, I’m w/those who are dismayed and ticked off, and while I approve of the policy rhetoric and it’s still light years better than what is coming from most of the political spectrum, something other than “yay good policy rhetoric but support these candidates, some of whom are actively working in opposition to everything we stand for” needs to happen soon.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Jeebus cripes. The entire organization has been in existence a whole month, and it organized 2,600 house parties. They only just got their board in place. Yeah, of course there are going to be screw ups. Yeah, of course some candidates one would prefer to be supported aren’t. Maybe the whole endeavor is more incremental than one might like. (And especially on anti-war; but I think Clinton will give anti-war activists a chance to show their stuff very soon.) If it’s more the inside part of an inside/outside strategy, then go outside.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        It would help this hopeful skeptic to see a bit behind the curtain: who appointed the board and what were the criteria? Will there be real membership with dues and opportunities to influence, and perhaps even elect or run for, leadership and positions? Otherwise it looks to me a lot like Working Families – a fundraising operation with opaque internals that, when push comes to shove, throws in with Cuomo and Clinton.

      2. PhilU

        This conflates Our Revolution with Bernie Sanders. They are not legally allowed to collaborate. Sanders endorsed the bad senate Candidates. OR did not.

        1. MojaveWolf

          Define “collaborate”, since everyone came to their first viewing party because he was speaking. I think being the whole reason the organization got off the ground and making it’s keynote speech sort of qualifies as collaborating by most definitions. And to suggest they really don’t know what each other is doing is like asking people to believe candidates and their superPACs don’t know what each other is doing. Come on.

          They actually kinda have to work together, or make very clear where they are not working together. If anything, if he feels compelled through some sort of agreement to endorse the yayOligarchy! candidates and avoid some others, that would be exactly where the OR leaders should feel very free to jump in, since they are not party to said agreement.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            You can’t have it both ways. If OR is a standalone organization, then you can’t hold it responsible for what Sanders does. If Sanders controlled OR, he would have had it endorse Derrick too.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          Ah. Sorry I feel for the conflation in any of my responses. Now I have to go back through the whole thread and check for disinformation.

          It sounds like machinations for the Senate to come in the fall, which makes sense, given that Derrick is a single payer supporter who could win if he got lucky, as opposed to a nice guy who could never win.

      3. MojaveWolf

        I take your point, or rather, all your points. Before getting into more detail, let me say that I I hope you are right, and since I’m still highly uncertain, I can’t even say I hope I’m wrong, because still at the “I don’t know” stage. I *want* this to work. You have no idea how much I want this to work. (I spent 40 minutes travel time each way to show up at an event where I expected to be told to vote for Hillary and walk out in disgust, just in the hopes it would be something worthwhile, that’s how much I want this to work, and I’m very, very happy that it exceeded my initial expectations) And I am still giving it a chance.

        Now to spell out in greater detail what concerns me:
        It’s not that some candidates I would have liked to be supported weren’t. It’s more the potential beginning of a disturbing pattern, where OR/Bernie IS endorsing people who opposed both Bernie and key parts of his policy (yay fracking queen? yay Hillary is our gal?) but are beloved of the Dem establishment while NOT endorsing a couple of people who don’t just have policy positions that back what Bernie & OR support, but actually came out and endorsed Bernie. My specific examples of Grayson and Smith were in states where their endorsement were at least as likely to hurt them as help them. In general, if someone sticks their neck out to get your back,, I tend to think, absent compelling reason not to, you should make it a point to get theirs, too, especially if it’s something as easy to do as an endorsement. I’m not saying their might not be some legit reason for this I don’t know about, but to steal one of your phrases, the optics look bad.

        And re: incremental changes, I guess it depends on how incremental. That part I’ll grant you remains to be seen. Standing up for the protest at Standing Rock was awesome. My general worry is that they seem to be trying very hard to be friendly and declare a truce with the same people who just stuck knives in their back. This, again, doesn’t strike me as an effective strategy. Most of the DC establishment and the corporate donor class are not their friends and will never ever be their friends, or the friends of anyone outside the right sort of money and social circles. Certainly not of the working class or the non-human element of the biosphere.

        Inside/outside: My idea of taking over the Dems from the inside is just that, taking over, unless and until these people actually start coming around to policy positions and modes of operation I find acceptable. This will be a hostile takeover, if it happens. I don’t see much point in pretending otherwise. But even if you do think otherwise, again, the legit threat needs to be there or while will these folk change? I used to think the Dems actually did believe in most of the things they claimed to believe in, like saving the environment from looming ecotastrophe and providing a better life for people everywhere, but were cowards and afraid to lead, thinking the rest of the country was center-right (issue polls notwithstanding) and viewing the great mass of Americans as somehow beyond changing their thinking. That would speak horribly of the dems if true, but I don’t even give them that much credit any more.

        Bernie’s campaign proved the left was a viable political force and brought to the fore all those issue polls showing the US is NOT, on the whole, center-right when it comes to policy. The Democratic leadership responded by not only doing everything they could to kill his campaign, they came out in opposition to all these policy positions, to making more than the tiniest adjustments to help working people, and showed no concern at all for the non-working. They sounded more than ever like the Republicans they’d been acting like. This wasn’t just Obama, who telegraphed his intent before he was ever in the White House, this was all the other establishment types, and they didn’t just aim at Bernie. They’ve been pushing a pro-corporate, anti-environment, anti-working class agenda in who they back and who they shun/undercut for a while now.

        So why would we think they’re going to respond to an olive branch without an everpresent threat of the olive branch being replaced by an axe? They probably won’t respond to either until the axe gets successfully used; my view of them as human beings is that they’ll think things like the Florida primary today validates their way of thinking, Berniecrats who don’t get on board are no different than the to-be-shunned Naderites, and as a #, 45% (or 50%+ in a non-cheating legitimate voting environment) is no different than 2 or 3%, and if we don’t appreciate all the wonderful things they are accomplishing by not being much worse, we are fools not to be taken seriously. Not thinking subtle persuasion is going to change this.

        Apologies for being so long winded. Really do appreciate your patience. Nutshell: My hope for Our Revolution was it would support particular policies and withhold support (if not outright oppose) candidates who didn’t back enough of those policies. My other hope was it would instrumental in a fundamental realignment of the political system for the better. Hopefully it will still do those things, and your uncharacteristic optimism is warranted. Despite all I’ve just said, I’m still on board for now.

  17. J Bookly

    I was one of 13 people who attended an Our Revolution launch party at a private home. Most of the attendees struck me as the kind of people described as “good people”– serious about why they were there, but also displaying a relaxed kind of good will and a sense of humor. They treated the hostess’ partly disabled dad with a straightforward friendliness that did them credit. The group was predominantly older, and several people wondered where the expected millennials were.

    We introduced ourselves, ate a few cookies, and watched the streaming show. Bernie’s speech went over well; we all applauded in spots. In the discussion afterwards, people seemed positive about the new organization. Everybody gave the hostess permission to send their email address to the organizers. I asked our hostess if our group was going to stay in touch in some way. She said she would send out an email to everyone who attended, with all the email addresses showing, if that was okay with everybody. It was okay, and the next day I received the promised email. It said that our hostess had forwarded our names and email addresses to Our Revolution, and that we should go to the Our Revolution website and sign up if we hadn’t already done so. (Several attendees with smartphones had signed up the previous evening.)

    I’ve gone to the website but haven’t signed up. There is no mention of local chapters or any type of continuing local presence. That seems to me like a serious omission for an organization aspiring to change the entire nation’s political culture from the school board on up. Without some kind of continuing relationship with locals, how will they find progressive candidates for school board? Will they support whoever makes progressive-sounding noises loud enough to be heard in Burlington? Will they endorse their board member’s ex-roommate’s daughter who lives in Fillintheblank County? Or wait! Could they be expecting us August 24 partygoers to create their local presence for them, without a supportive structure or even a word of encouragement? Oh no, not another top-down group bemoaning what’s wrong at ground level! “The peasants are revolting” “Yes, they’ve always been that way.”

    I may be misjudging them and they will be just as grassrootsy and activist-oriented as they originally seemed to be. If anybody knows anything about this aspect of Our Revolution, I’d appreciate some enlightenment. Thanks.

      1. MojaveWolf

        I will give my local group credit here. They’ve already endorsed two local school board candidates, though w/out any description other than “progressive democrats”.

    1. PhilU

      I went to one that was largely Millennials who all seamed receptive to me talking about MMT and a Job Guarantee. Slightly less receptive to blocking Clinton at all costs by voting Trump, but I had a few takers. For whatever reason the main Our Revolution page doesn’t mention it, but I know there is a local chapter in my state. Try googling “Our Revolution +state.”
      That said, i’m not sold on it yet. Nor are most of the volunteers he organised, who have organised themselves with a much more collaborative leadership style. Still making key decisions before going public though.

      1. Debs Sinclair

        In Minnesota Our Revolution MN is the effort of volunteers and former staff to keep people politically involved and to build on enthusiasm and social connection from Bernies campaign. There is no sense that we will capitulate behind a DFL/DNC agenda, but rather will create our own candidate vetting process and help plug volunteers into true progressive campaigns and issues (15 NOW, stand against DAPL, end police brutality etc). For now we are using the national campaign name as a way to bring people in, but there is no one but us progressives here locally calling any shots or directing our volunteerism. I encourage you to come take a leadership role sept 18 at the CWA local 7200 union hall from 4-6pm. We’re building out org structure and setting short and longer term priorities. We’re also excepting to have Keith Ellison call in or attend. Several othe cities (Duluth) will host a simultaneous event the same day to keep it local and action oriented

  18. Jim

    This fledgling group appears to be seriously considering creating an organizational structure perfect for eventual immobilization and a guaranteed absence of assertion at the grass roots level–that is not in line with potential big donor goals (in this case George Soros and his Open Society)

    For example, as a recent article/memo indicates “Hacked Soros Memo: $650,000 to Black Lives Matter”–big donors tend to think strategically:

    “That support calls into question how we might appropriately support such efforts; specifically whether we should seek to shape the movement as opposed to facilitate its direct action.”

    The Open Society memo goes on to say:

    “How do we confront the reality that such movements frequently flail as they attempt to grow and confront the challenges of institutionalizing themselves sufficiently to extend their reach? To what extent do we believe that we should play a role in helping such movement leaders connect with others that might help deepen policy recommendations or connections to sympathetic but silent inside actors? How can we help link such movements to existing grantees and other key actors that provide mutual strengthening?

    What better way–than to have access to a 501(4)c— to potentially help shape this emerging movement/organization.

    The strategy of inside/out is filled with real peril.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks for your speculations; as we know, it would be irresponsible not to speculate. The interview discusses the 501(c)(4); it makes sense to wait to see the bylaws.

      As for a strategy filled with peril… Do us all know when you find one that is not? (Or to put this another way, the only strategy never filled with peril is dysfunction.)

      NOTE Adding, I see why you didn’t give a link to that Soros memo. It’s Breitbart. Totes authentic, I’m sure.

  19. mcarson

    What would the tax designation be for an organization that was able to coordinate with campaigns directly? What would be the tax situation with donations?
    Having a structure that can’t help individual candidates seems stupid, being able to support particular candidates should be the main purpose.
    Is the large donor problem caused by being unable to accept big checks or being unable to provide charitable tax deductions for large donations or being unable to keep names hidden?

  20. Jeremy Grimm

    There are too many unanswered questions and too many variables in play for me to make any sort of reasoned judgment about Our Revolution. I intend to wait and see. Pressed for a judgment I would have to say something doesn’t feel right but I don’t know what. In a way the success of Our Revolution seems unimportant. I feel a change coming in wind. Whether Our Revolution will be its vehicle or some other movement — there will be a vehicle. I sense widespread unrest. “a disturbance in the Force” … recalling a past posting here (by Yves?).

    1. Archie

      I have felt the change coming for a number of years now. Yet, no real change has occurred other than the feeling of change coming is much more acute.

      The Bernie primary phenomenom has been credited as being indicative of the coming changes. And as Mojave Wolf correctly stated upthread:

      “Bernie’s campaign proved the left was a viable political force and brought to the fore all those issue polls showing the US is NOT, on the whole, center-right when it comes to policy.”

      But I don’t think it is just the “political left” that was energized by Bernie’s primary campaign and the messages he conveyed in his rallies. I live in deep, deep conservative land. There is no organized D party and the T party meets on a bi-weekly basis and uses hand written signs to inform anyone where and when the next meeting is. There is almost no need to vote on election day in this area since the election is decided in the primary and subsequent run-off vote. The winners here run unopposed.

      Yet the people I live among were very, very interested in what Bernie was saying. It contradicted so much of their informed opinions, but mostly it rung true to them and they wanted to hear more. I wore my Bernie 2016 paraphernalia proudly and people frequently wanted to engage me in discussion about him and his message. Dare I say they were almost ready to accept “democratic socialism” as a benign social force!

      I know this is just anecdotal but, I don’t think these people are the target constituency of OR. And in that regard, they should be just as important as any registered democrat or “leftist”. Just my opinion, ymmv.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I live in a relatively conservative area but I was told by the people who knocked doors for Sanders prior to the primary that they often received a much warmer reception than they expected at all doors. There are but few — and growing fewer — persons who benefit from the economic policies on offer from the Hog Party and many — and more — who are harmed. It will take some powerful dog whistles to keep the many and more from joining to pursue their common interests and put aside their cultural differences which have been deliberately blown out of proportion.

  21. djrichard

    I think the people doing this are underestimating the value of a primal need to belong to something. Do we belong to a “revolution”? If not, what do we hang our hat on in the mean time (while we’re waiting for success of the revolution) if we have the need to belong to something? One of the two big parties? No thanks.

    To me, it’s much more critical to identify what I belong to. And once I get that figured out, that’s probably where I’m going to put my time, money and energy.

    BTW, the naming says a lot in answering this question. Being called “our revolution” I guess that means it belongs to us. But it doesn’t convey that it’s something to belong to.

    1. djrichard

      By the way, it’s quite a milestone for me to actively decide that I no longer belong to the democratic party. The critical path issue for me now is to decide which party I’m going to belong to instead. There’s an obvious candidate. Time to go declare myself over there.

    2. djrichard

      On a completely different note, this caused me to wonder how this applies to work. For instance, can we “belong to work”? Does that even semantically parse? One would think it would/should simply given the amount of emotional investment we make into work and keeping our jobs. But it doesn’t. So why do we work? What do we think we’re going to end up belonging to?

      Maybe if we said “belong to the franchise” instead; to become a “made man” to use the mafia expression. But we all know that now-of-days that labor isn’t invited to be part of the work franchise anymore – that invite list is limited to ownership. That “party” is exclusive.

      At the very least, labor can “belong to a team” at work. At least that semantically parses and the “party” isn’t exclusive [at least until headcount reductions go into effect, but let’s ignore that]. Perhaps it’s not all that different than belonging to a team in the army I suppose. But given the option, if I’m in the army (for some reason), and the only thing that’s keeping me there is the “team”, that wouldn’t be enough – I’d exit stage right. So what’s holding me to work? Besides the obvious reasons involving money and recurring cash flow, none of which can be grounded in “belonging”.

      Maybe people can ground it in other things instead, as in “I belong to a family”, therefore “I work” to finance that. Doesn’t parse quite so well as this does though: “I belong to the middle class” (or say “I belong to my neighborhood”) therefore “I work” to finance that. [Unfortunately, it’s requiring harder and harder levels of work simply to keep the status quo, but again let’s ignore that.] But even this seems to fall short in explaining the emotional investment we make in work. It still seems like the emotional investment we’re making is to ultimately make square something that can’t be made square: “to belong to work”.

      There is one last refuge for where I can ground my belonging when it comes to work. I can “belong to a union”. But would it make sense to say, “I belong to a union”, therefore “I work”? Maybe not, but it could give us something that’s more emotionally satisfying than trying to “belong to work”. Maybe it’s not all that different than “belonging to a team” at work. But at least a union provides more job security, and because of that more fellowship as well.

      Of course, none of this has relevance to the topic at hand except to show the “agency” (lol, first time I’m using that word) that “belonging to something” has. And maybe once we put that to rest in the political domain, maybe we can think about it in the work context as well.

  22. James McFadden

    I have to say I am impressed with the stamina of Lambert Strether in writing all these comments – I’m exhausted just reading them.

  23. Frank

    Just a thought: What if Our Revolution were organized as a voters union? What if instead of donations they accepted dues. All dues paying members get a vote, one membership, one vote, on the direction of the organization, platforms, and nominations for support. They could still raise money for certain directed campaigns, but any money donated over and above the dues does not give additional ‘votes’.

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