Politico’s Hit Piece on Our Revolution (and Bernie Sanders)

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

I try not to write clickbait headlines (“This one reporter…”), but I didn’t quite manage to do that this time, in the sense that I am over-promising and under-delivering. But wait! I can explain why.

As readers know, I have priors, which — please bear with me — I am refining as I go: I’m of the opinion that the American political class is facing a legitimacy crisis, driven by what political scientist Walter Dean Burham would call “political realignment”[0] (Walter Dean Burnham, “The Changing Shape of the American Political Universe,” The American Political Science Review, Vol. 59, No. 1, March 1965I’m studying up!), in turn driven by changes in “the electoral universe” culminating in “critical elections” (think 1860 or 1932). This is a process, by no means complete — i.e., 2016 was not a critical election, despite liberal yammering about the “Trump Era” — for two reasons I can think of at least: (1) although Republican electeds and the party apparatus will have reconstituted themselves, mostly through resignations by 2020, (2)(a) the Democrat electeds and party apparatus have not, and (2)(b) while what I crudely label the liberal Democrat (national) establishment is deeply committed to (i) not expanding their electorate (they prefer to appeal to alienated Republicans) and (ii) incremental tweaks that (iii) do not give their donor class agita[1], while (2)(c) what I crudely label left Democrats are committed to all three: They wish to expand the electorate, reform (even “non-reform” reforms), not tweaks, and they’d like to cut the cord to the donor class. (Notice how all three reinforce each other with a $27 donor policy-driven party model). But while all the creative policy work, all the principled institutional work, and all the interesting candidates I can think of — not shopworn, not mush-mouthed, not corrupt — are on the left, the center of gravity in the Democrats party has not shifted to in their direction — rather, the left has not had the power to shift it[2] — and I don’t care what WaPo says.

And so we come to the Politico article: “Bernie’s army in disarray,” by Edward-Isaac Dovere, Politico’s chief Washington correspondent. Modeling Dovere as a hack instead of the dedicated reporter we in all fairness should assume he is, the message of his piece is that liberal Democrats don’t have to worry about the left in 2018, those losers. Fair enough, but — and here I’m starting the explanation part — I’m not sure that one year’s development work is all that significant. Standing up a left organization like Our Revolution (OR) in the face of near-universal opposition from the political class, and virulent (and in many cases well-paid) opposition from liberal Democrats, was never going to be easy. So I’m happy to file everything in Dovere’s piece under “growing pains.” Second, and more importantly, my guess is that political realignment — ruling out rapid descent into The Handmaid’s Tale, or On The Beach, or complete, top-to-bottom Third World-status — has a decade at least to run (because the, er, contradictions aren’t nearly as sharp as they were after, say, the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, which led with extraordinary rapidity to the creation of the Republican Party). And Our Revolution is just one actor in that realignment, and there are other left actors, all new since 2016[3]: DSA, Brand New Congress, Justice Democrats, and Great Slate (among others, I am sure). So, if Dovere had wanted to so some real reporting, instead of a hit piece, he would have needed to assess all those organizations, and put them in the context of re-alignment. But that’s not easy. For example, in respose to Dovere’s piece, this tweet:

Very good (kudos to OR for the new logo; the Sanders “little bird” was one of the few moments of pure happiness in 2016; and I like the OR has had the discipline to use it consistently). But — and this is the final part of the explanation — this tweet is in essence a press release (and kudos to OR for being able to release one). How on earth would Dovere, if he had the inclination, go about verifying it? And how would this humble blogger? For example, I follow Twitter closely, and (though I say it) I have a well-curated list of accounts that I follow, including every DSA chapter I’ve been able to locate. But I missed DSA’s impending success in Pittsburgh! Multiply that single failure by whatever scope that OR + DSA + Brand New Congress + Justice Democrats + Great Slate and however many others, and you can see the problem: How on earth does anyone (me, Dovere, anyone) know what’s happening on the ground in this enormous country? The political class will be, literally, the last to know of any re-alignment that takes place; there’s nothing in their Rolodexes or their contact lists that will keep them informed. Plus, local news has been decimated, the political blogosphere is — in large part — either purchased (Kos) or dormant, and Google search is utterly crapified when it’s not being outright censored. (BallotPedia is not a solution, unfortunately, because although it’s exhaustive, it isn’t updated in near-real time, driven by the news flow.)

And so, dear readers, I turn to you: What sourcing would you suggest for tracking electoral work on the left? Especially sourcing that isn’t liberal Democrat?[4] And sourcing that doesn’t make stuff up, no matter how important “the cause”? Is everything — heaven forfend — on Facebook or YouTube or podcasts? Maybe dedicated State House reporters doing round-ups, if there are any left? Are there still political blogs, just low-circulation ones I don’t know about? Help!

* * *

And now, I turn to Politico’s hit piece, “Bernie’s army in disarray.”[5] After donning my yellow waders — and putting a clothespin on my nose — I looked at the piece, and two issues leap to the eye. The first is the assumption that OR owes the Democrat Party deference and support. For example:

Last week, Our Revolution endorsed actress Cynthia Nixon in the primary for New York governor after she filled out a questionnaire and did an interview with a local affiliate. But an aide to her opponent, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who last year was joined by Sanders at an event promoting a state initiative on the senator’s signature issue of free college, said his campaign knew nothing of the process and learned of the endorsement from a press release.

Good. Great! I couldn’t be happier.

Board members and Sanders presidential delegates from 2016 have raised questions about whether the group’s president, Nina Turner, is using her position…[6] to settle scores with the Democratic National Committee from 2016.

Good. You say “settle scores,” I say “hold accountable.”

[OR] also sat out Doug Jones’ upset Senate win in Alabama last year, and Conor Lamb’s triumph in a Western Pennsylvania congressional district that Trump carried by 20 points.

Good. Did either candidate support OR’s policies?

Our Revolution has frustrated Democrats by staying on the sidelines of so many races.

First, good. When liberal Democrats produce candidates OR can support, it will support them. These Democrats seem to think that OR is an arm — or rather, tentacle — of the DNC. Second, great! OR is also supporting many candidates at the state and local level. That’s a good strategy, and will pay off. It’s how the religious right started its march to power: With local school boards.

And what Devere seems to think is the most damning indictment of all:

Our Revolution has shown no ability to tip a major Democratic election in its favor

In 2018, after less than two years of existence? (And, harking back to the long-winded introduction to this piece, contradictions not fully sharpened?) Let’s talk in 2020 and 2022.

The second is regarding the OR glass as half-empty when it is, in fact, half-full:

Kleeb, who also serves as the Nebraska Democratic Party chairwoman, argued, “We have about a 50 percent win record, which I think is a miracle given the fact that we usually endorse the underdog, or a woman, or a person who comes from a community of color.” (The win record is closer to 40 percent.)

Holy moly. This is like that WaPo dude who thought he had an enormous gotcha with Sanders because Sander’s average donation was a little more than $27. I mean, come on. Also, retail campaigning and politics are a skill, and they’re learned; they probably cannot be taught. So ~45% of OR endorsements won. 100% of them ran, and some percentage will go on to win their next race, or their next. In other words, the left is building a bench.

A second example:

Monthly online fundraising totals have plummeted to just one-third of the group’s take a year ago, based on an analysis of processing fees reported to the IRS by Act Blue, the tool Our Revolution uses, and verified by several people familiar with its finances. Our Revolution maintains that it’s still running a surplus and that repeat donations are steady.

Maybe those totals would be higher if OR had endorsed Conor Lamb or Doug Jones. But then it wouldn’t be OR, would it? If repeat donations are indeed steady, then OR is a going concern, which is what matters.

I wish I had the time to do a really detailed takedown of Dover’s piece, but I don’t have to, because Common Dreams did, with “The False Narratives Used to Try to Derail Bernie’s Army,” which makes this critical point:

The most damning criticisms of Our Revolution in the Politico piece are unquoted and unsourced.

Quite right. In the lead-in to a series of damning bullet point, we get this:

Among the findings of POLITICO’s examination of Our Revolution, based on interviews with two dozen sources inside and outside the organization

Well, of the two dozen, were 23 outside and 1 inside? How are we to know? Shouldn’t each claim be attributed to a particular source? For example:

The result has left many Sanders supporters disillusioned, feeling that the group that was supposed to harness the senator’s grass-roots movement is failing in its mission.

But not one with a name? Or a title? Or this:

Some Sanders stalwarts worry that Our Revolution’s performance could have a harmful spillover effect if he runs again: Though Sanders himself continues to reshape Democratic politics, with many presidential contenders signing on to his “Medicare for All” bill and primaries across the country being fought further on the left’s turf than in decades, supporters warn that the senator himself will suffer if the group formed in his name is seen as weak and floundering.

What the heck is a “stalwart”? Is that some kind of staffing position I’ve never heard of? And these “supporters”? Are they kinda like Job’s comforters? Hard to know.

Concluding, Devere has, in essence, written a “Democrats in Disarray” piece — a well-known genre in the Beltway — repurposed for Our Revolution. However, I should be more fair to Devere than I have been, sloppy though his sourcing is and tendentious as his views may be; I think it’s clear to anyone who pays attention that organizing at scale is not Sanders’ strong suit. That’s not to say that Sanders is sloppy: Clearly, as Mayor of Burlington he governed effectively; as a Representative and then a Senator he served his constituents well; and not only is Sanders’ message discipline enormous, he’s very strategic about how and when to deploy it. Those skills are not the same as the skills needed to stand up a completely new electoral institution, outside the current party system, designed — I would urge — to secure and focus the on-going “political realignment.” I don’t think that Sanders is the person to do that (nor is any other politician I can think of). Perhaps Nina Turner is not; time will tell. Put this another way: There remains enormous opportunity on the left.


[0] Fundamental driver: “Organic damage” to the (non-owner, non-professional) working class that began with the neoliberal turn in the mid-1970s, and has now reached absurdly degrading, indeed lethal levels evident to anybody who cares to look out the Acela window, as most Acela riders do not, being too busy with their cell phones.

[1] This was Clinton’s plan for 2016 (with an admixture of gaslighting and warmongering. The plan has not changed. That’s why liberals purged the left from the DNC Rules and Bylaws Commitee, the DCCC (or donors directly) are assaulting left candidates, and so on.

[2] Here we bracket in the inside/outside strategy debate. Assuming your most minimal of goals is giving working people a New Deal, and you’re a strong believer in an outside, third party, I think you still want oppositional forces (“not team players”) inside the Democrat Party. You can’t just go around it! The South Carolina fire eaters, loathesome though their goals were, didn’t do that.

[3] Yes, DSA wasn’t founded in 2016, but it only became a player because of the Sanders campaign of 2016. I’m leaving out the various institutions inspired by the Dean insurgency in 2004; DFA, and so forth.

[4] For example, PoliticsPA censored failed to mention that the four Pittsburgh winners were DSA-supported, so, sadly for a source seemingly so exhaustive, they aren’t trustworthy.

[5] Note that the headline implies that OR and a Sanders campaign would co-ordinate, which is neither true nor legal (despite workarounds).

[6] The ellipsis, I chopped out: “to prepare for a presidential run of her own.” Turner has to know she’s not seasoned enough; Shirley Chisholm, for example, served in the House for seven terms. The wording of the paragraph makes it impossible to link source to claim, and my guess this comes from a disgruntled individual. The New Republic has a spin-off from the Politico piece, which includes this little gem: “Questioned directly by Politico [gotcha!], she would not confirm or deny that she plans a presidential run in 2020 if Sanders sits the race out. If she did, she would presumably use the invaluable voter database that the Sanders campaign built.” And so what? Turner can purchase the list, presumably.

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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. flora

    Politico would no doubt like Dovere’s article to sway people into thinking “nothing to see here, move along.”

  2. Code Name D

    Disarray? Hah! Poliitco would say that, wouldn’t they? But OR dose have its critics. Disarray is not the correct word, more like, not properly organized. As your own observation (and plee) for reliable sources demonstrates.

    OR is using an incomplete strategy, what I like to call “fund and forget.” OR finds candidates and funds their campaigns. That’s it. It’s still up to the candidate to reach out to voters, to get out the message, and will be left to their own devices once elected.

    This is exactly the same strategy we used for DFA. And we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams with electing Obama and the “blue wave” he was elected with. And yet – here we are, despite that victory. OR will have a similar success but will still inevitably fail to deliver change. They may even rehabilitate the establishment’s image. OR may be building a bench – but it’s a bench with little staying power for the long hall.

    OR needs to do far more than just getting candidates elected to office.

    1. It needs to build, promote, and defend a comprehensive platform. Right now, it just has a few legislative initiatives that are already popular.
    2. It needs to do the candidates “dirty work”. That is to say take on controversial ideas and built up popular support for those ideas. It is unreasonable to expect a candidate running for office, to take on controversial topics such as gun-control.
    3. It needs to build communication frameworks that connect voters to candidates. Even in the best of times, candidates will come and go. OR needs to be the stationary meeting place where voters can connect with candidates in their area, as well as where candidates can connect with their voters.
    4. It needs to provide resources for those that managed to get elected, so that they can stay in their offices for the duration and be as effective as possible. For example, building short-lists of acceptable candidates for cabinet, support staffing, or judicial positions.

    Getting people elected to office is a necessary strategy. We will not get far without it. But you can not relay on this one strategy and expect success. That is the mistake that DFA made.

    1. dcblogger

      Excellent point about DFA. I get the feeling it depends upon the local chapter, the Our Revolution in Northern Virginia meets every month to talk about projects from agitating for local issues to supporting labor strikes, etc.

      another group that has been around for a while but newly energized by Bernie is Progressive Democrats of America. Again if varies widely from one area to another.

      I also think the most important groups are the ones we don’t here about. Here in DC I would name Empower DC as one such group, if you don’t live here you would never know anything about them. An unsung hero of the Virginia election of 2017 and near Democratic takeover of the House was Competitive Commonwealth, which funded challenger’s filing fees and fees for access to the Democratic data base.

      I don’t know about local blogs, but here are some twitter voices:
      Hillbilly Report https://twitter.com/HillbillyReport
      PlunderBund (Ohio) https://twitter.com/
      Vivian Paige (Norfolk Virginia) https://twitter.com/vpaige
      list of local Iowa activists
      CT politics, local activists and local reporters

      1. Code Name D

        Local “grss roots”orgnizing is – by definition – not orgnizing. Not when you compare to the national and global orgnizations of the nultinational corperations, Dem and Republican political parties, as well as government itself such as the CIA and Homeland Security.

        It is my oppinion that grassroots organizing prevents organizing on larger and more effective scales. Which might explane why establishment Dems promote and encurage grassroots orgnizing (through orgs such as DFA and Act Blue.)

        This is another area of critisem against Sanders. He had the opertunity to bring together the various orgs and shape them to a more effective level. He opted not to do this for some reason.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Local “grss roots”orgnizing is – by definition – not orgnizing. Not when you compare to the national and global orgnizations of the nultinational corperations, Dem and Republican political parties, as well as government itself such as the CIA and Homeland Security.

          That’s what I mean by organizing “at scale.” The last thing we need is another “left” groupuscle.

          > He opted not to do this for some reason.

          See my comments in the post, and the responses to it here.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > OR is using an incomplete strategy, what I like to call “fund and forget.” … This is exactly the same strategy we used for DFA. And we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams with electing Obama and the “blue wave” he was elected with. And yet – here we are, despite that victory.

      The DSA comparison is acute, and it’s useful to have that history. Perhaps we can learn from it!* I do think that OR has resisted the temptation/demand to act as an arm of the Democrats (“we succeeded” — who’s “we”?).

      Very much agreed on 1 + 2 + 3 (I think the platform work encompasses “controversial ideas” and “communications frameworks) and 4.

      * Is there personnel overlap between DFA and OR at any level?

      1. Code Name D

        Not to my knowledge. (Not that I investigated at any level.)

        DFA is still out there. I still get donation requests and the occasional newsletter discussing changes in leadership. They basically have a team of educators tour the country teaching activists and potential candidates how to fund and run political campaigns. But I see little else from them. I don’t even seem them particularly active in “red state” territory any more, suggesting that they are being deployed by DCCC models, rather than local need.

        By this point, DFA has been completely assimilated into the establishment system.

        OR has learned a few things though. One, it has a platform and focuses on real issues. DFA was of the mind that “any Democrats is a good Democrat”, (even when they were former Republicans.) And OR does seem to actively interview and scrutinize its candidates to adhere to its platform as a condition for support or endorsement.

        DFA classes also taught conventional (establishment thinking) political theory, heavy on catch-phrases and mobilizing demographics. Conventions that OR has overtly rejected. So there is a lot of incompatibility here and I would be surprised there were any overlapping.

  3. grayslady

    This was the quote that jumped out for me:

    “That level of recruitment wasn’t enough for Flores, a former Nevada assemblywoman who quit the Our Revolution board’s political committee in mid-April. She said she had complained internally for six months that the group was giving short shrift to getting Latinos involved in it, and to speaking to Latino issues on the Our Revolution Twitter account.”

    Instead of the required “tsk, tsk” that Dovere seems to be calling forth with this reference, I was grateful that OR doesn’t seem to be participating in the identity politics of the Democrats. Bernie’s focus was on economic issues and citizenship issues, regardless of gender or skin color or ethnic background. Isn’t that the essence of socialism? We’re all in this together?

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      ^^^”Bernie’s focus was on economic issues and citizenship issues, regardless of gender or skin color or ethnic background.”^^

      The Divide and Lose Strategy of the Establishment Dems is on full display over at alternet(recently absorbed by Raw Story/Blob).
      In my informal polling and ad hoc symposia in the feed store etc, I’ve found that a New New Deal resonates with the run of the mill, non rich republican…farmers more than ranchers.As I keep saying, one must avoid the Terrorwords(“soshalism”, “Union”,”Librul”, etc), and speak about such things using the local dialect(“fellowship”,”there, but for the grace of god, go i”, etc), but a ready acceptance is there for the cultivation. Of course, the nearest DSA/OR/etc are a hundred miles away in Austin, and I suspect that we’ve a long way to go before such things will have traction out here(because of the language).
      I’ve been Jane Goodall in a duck blind out here for 23 years, and I’ve noted many things that are different from the usual alternet narrative regarding rural Texas…and many things that have changed.
      For instance, when I first moved out here from Austin, I noticed that we have a higher percentage of out gays than the Liberal Enclave, Austin…this has gotten more apparent in the last 2 decades.
      Also, the Overt version of Racism is on a steady decline…it’s seen as impolite, at best, to voice such things publicly(which I call a win)… and when my Mexican wife points out some inadvertent racist construction or usage in folks she’s talking to(who often don’t connect her obvious Mexicanness with the “Bad Mexicans” on Fox), they universally blush and fall all over themselves apoligising.
      Exposure is the key, here….I tell my Lib/prog online friends to share a beer over the back fence with their Teabilly neighbor…show him that an Actual Lib/Prog is nothing like the caricature presented by Hannity/Rush/etc.
      This is how Gays, Potheads, and on and on have become normalised in the minds of the genpop.
      when your beloved cousin, who you grew up deer hunting with, comes out as gay, and marries a brown dude, it’s hard to maintain the hatred of gays or brown people.

      1. freedomny

        “In my informal polling and ad hoc symposia in the feed store etc, ”

        LOL – I do my informal polling at the dog park…..

  4. dcblogger

    Some say Dovere fabricates his quotes. Seriously, I do not believe a single person from within Our Revolution talked to him, I think he made that up. Reporters do that far more than anyone likes to admit. In his brilliant book, The Other Side of the Story, Jody Powell says that for a reporter, fabricating a quote is a little like a retail clerk taking $ out of the register, a constant temptation. The difference is that it is unlikely the reporter will ever be caught provided that the fabricated quotes vindicate his publisher’s point of view.

    1. anon y'mouse

      as a near lifelong onagain/offagain retail clerk, i have never been tempted to take money out of the till.

      contrary to the constant gestapo overseeing me, and the former employer’s unjust accusations against me.

      i think you will learn that the lower orders are more honest than anyone above them believes. that’s another reason why they aren’t in management.

      now, sneaking homemade cookies out of my own cookie jar would get me nabbed.

      1. dcblogger

        I worked as a retail clerk for years and only know of one incident when someone was caught taking money out of the register. But reporters fabricating quotes? I suspect that happens often, which is why I disregard stories with anonymous sources, except in certain circumstances.

      2. ambrit

        Yes to the level of oversight used in counting up the registers at shift end. It would take an evil genius to get away with filching money from a till. The real crookery happens further up the ‘food chain.’ Accounting fraud being much more lucrative and ‘doable’ when one has the means of manipulating the figures available to one. Thievery is more of a managerial skill. ‘They’ start out by stealing our labour, and work up from there.

  5. Carolinian

    I’m not too sure about the Republican party making itself over. My neighborhood is chock full of yard signs with the word “conservative” prominently featured on many. We may be getting new faces, same old tune.

    Meanwhile the Dems aren’t even getting new faces, at least at the top.


    It took a Vietnam war to bring down the Dem party establishment last time. Events are doubtless in the saddle more than strategy. But then Trump may be cooking up some true disasters to help the process along.

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Moles, again?

    In the lead-in to a series of damning bullet point, we get this:

    Among the findings of POLITICO’s examination of Our Revolution, based on interviews with two dozen sources inside and outside the organization

    Well, of the two dozen, were 23 outside and 1 inside? How are we to know? Shouldn’t each claim be attributed to a particular source? For example:

    The result has left many Sanders supporters disillusioned, feeling that the group that was supposed to harness the senator’s grass-roots movement is failing in its mission.

    But not one with a name? Or a title?


  7. JohnnyGL

    Doug Jones – 1.5% better than a child molestor

    Conor Lamb – 0.33% better than a torture-lover

  8. Edward

    The vanguard of the “revolt” will probably be the millenials. It is probably worth watching them.

    1. ambrit

      I feel you are confusing the intersection of the ‘class’ of the downwardly mobile with an age cohort with a basically ‘class’ based phenomenon. There will be some ‘critical mass’ of general social degradation that will trigger the ‘robust’ phase of the Realignment.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        As if, in political terms, the 18-year-old child of a squillionaire has more in common with an 18-year-old Walmart shelver than a 45-year-old Walmart cashier does. That’s what “Millenial” implies. I can’t stand this line of non-reasoning. It’s also a recipe for political failure, IMNSHO, because I think it takes way North of 40% or 50% of the electorate to make significant change (thinking of Tahrir Square, here (despite the sad results)).

  9. JohnnyGL

    “I think it’s clear to anyone who pays attention that organizing at scale is not Sanders’ strong suit. ” – It’s also worth pointing out that this isn’t what Sanders is trying to do.

    I’d argue Sanders is trying to encourage people to self-organize. He wants to make sure the institutions that get built can and do outlive Sanders himself. He knows he doesn’t have long, but he wants to inspire people to create significant, lasting change in this country. I’d argue he sees his role as similar to this guy, Jadav Payeng, who planted a forest the size of Central Park on a barren island that was slowly eroding away. Hint, hint…..there’s a metaphor here with shrinking lifespans!!! :)


    Sanders wants the thing he helps create to take on a life of its own, much like Payeng’s forest.

    1. Spring Texan

      This. He is working as hard as he can to spread an actual understanding of what we need and what is possible. He knows he won’t see the promised land, but he’s going to do his damndest. He’s an incredible educator. And astonishingly energetic and dedicated.

      If by some miracle he became president, he would still be fought and stymied at every turn (as would Corbyn or Lopez Obrador in GB or Mexico). That doesn’t make these efforts futile.

      And when progress finally happens and things crumble, it can make SUDDEN, drastic improvements, as when the NHS was established post-WWII in Britain despite tremendous opposition from Tories and from doctors. :-) You don’t get these things if you don’t fight, and you don’t get anywhere by fighting unless you know what you want when you do: universal medical care, housing, living wages. Sanders is teaching people what would and could be better and yes depending on them to self-organize.

      Meantime, he has been effective in getting small improvements when he can, fought for community health centers (and had Clinton won, would have won a big increase in funding for them), etc. Those things all matter and we all need to do the same locally and when we can nationally.

    2. makedoanmend

      Thanks for the video. Very nice. Nice to see an individual just, well, do the right thing.

    3. freedomny

      Thanks JG! And to Spring Texans point re educator…:) I’ve felt the same so it’s nice to hear that from others…

  10. Kokuanani

    I was furious last week when I received yet another begging letter from Nancy Pelosi on behalf of the DCCC, accompanied by THREE PAGES of justification re why I should contribute. I sent it back with some nasty comments re “stay out of our primaries” and “why does the DCCC keep challenging progressives?”

    Thus I was more than happy to see this morning a piece on local news spotlighting Nancy Moser in Texas whom the DCCC has challenged, and in particular her eloquent response to a “would you ever work with DCCC Dems?” One of her supporters stood in thebackground of the shot with a campaign sign. I hope more than a few viewers were motivated to send her $$$.

      1. ambrit

        We get those ‘begging’ letters with regularity. I’m tempted to send in a quarter with the note: “Call Dianne Feinstein. I hear she has a lot of spare change lying around that she found in the Post Office buildings she ‘acquired.'”

  11. Carey

    For a while the DCCC not only wanted donations, but didn’t even provide a postpaid envelope! I didn’t return
    those, but did send my loose change to them in the postpaid envelopes they had been sending, along with a
    few choice words for the Democrats’ anti-democratic policies. Always happy to help. ;)

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      They just sent out a “survey” to anyone who has ever been on their mailing list, apparently. The “issues” from which we were to choose those we want the party to focus on in 2020 were absolutely pathetic.

      1. JCC

        I’ve gotten two of these surveys recently and filled out both. I cross out some of the stupid answers and put in my own or, when they ask things like “Please Number 1 thru 13 your most important issues” for 13 issues, I usually put Number 1 in every slot the DSA/OR support (about 3… maybe) and the number 13 in those the DCC supports, such as variations on “Blame Russia”, Make ObamaCare more affordable, Help Reduce Student Debt (not eliminate, mind you), etc.

        Then at the bottom where they ask me for my Credit Card Number for a one-time or monthly support contribution, I write in, “I gave $27 to Sanders more than once, but not one cent for tribute to the Mainstream Democrat Party from me until you start supporting Sanders and his goals for American Citizens”.

        The only reason I even get these stupid things is because I mistakenly thought I had to register Dem in order to vote for Sanders in the CA Primary.

        Forty-five years of pure 100% unadulterated straight-through Independent Registration down the tubes for nothing. I need to get off my lazy butt and re-register Independent, but right now I’m getting some pleasure out of telling the Dem Establishment to take long walks off short piers through these obnoxious surveys, the only pleasure they’ve given me for the last 26 years.

        (Maybe on the next one I’ll tell ’em how I really feel :-)

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      He’s running for VT senator in 2018. So, yes, donate to Sanders campaign.

  12. Andrew Watts

    What sourcing would you suggest for tracking electoral work on the left?

    That’s harder then you can imagine. Maintaining contacts in those organizations doesn’t help much and there isn’t any guarantee that rank-and-file members will know anything about the decision making process. A few people I know have been complaining that they don’t have a clue what DSA is up to even though they’re members.

    Eventually the lack of information and the feeling that you’re being left out of the process will cause people to drop out. It seems as if the various left-wing organizations are making the same mistakes their forebearer(s) did. I’ve also heard of some other self-defeating measures like how people are treating their positions of power in these organizations as if they’re some secretive revolutionary vanguard of political change. An article in Water Cooler was linked to that openly discussed it awhile ago. It’s a plausible explanation as to why the rank-and-file membership is clueless to the leadership’s plan in some cases.

    The other explanation I can think of is that they don’t have a plan for action. I don’t mean to be critical, nor am I that interested in the inner workings of these organizations, and there’s a good reason for that. I don’t want to be a part of any organization that’d have me as a member.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > That’s harder then you can imagine

      No it’s not :-) Seriously, I remember the ferment in the political blogosphere 2003-2006. Where the heck did that go?

      > A few people I know have been complaining that they don’t have a clue what DSA is up to even though they’re members.

      I’ve seen Tweets suggesting growing pains by DSA, too. I do think the service projects like brake-lights and canvasing help keep DSA grounded. Just get out there. Ask the people what they want.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        it’s hard to get a read on what’s going on in the Texas state house, let alone any grassroots rumbling. my state rep and senator both didn’t have working emails well into the last session…and their websites(along with that of the Lege, in general) are rarely updated. Texas Tribune is the go-to…and the Observer and Texas Monthly for longer reads. I quit faceborg maybe 4 years ago, and never got on to twitter, so I wonder how much is happening in those spaces and what I’m missing.
        as far as local(within a 50 mile drive of our one city), in 04, the local Dems had a storefront in each of the 4 counties around us, as well as one here. Since then, not even a working phone number.
        any local organising I’ve seen….I’ve just bumped in to while going about my bidness. serendipity is all well and good, but it’s no way to change the world.
        I hear about and read about folks doing stuff in the big cities, but the few people I know who live in those places say/indicate it’s still an embryonic thing, at best.
        40+ years of equating Democrats with Commies, and the almost 20 year abandonment of the state by the Demparty…it’s gonna take time.
        The brakelight thing is genius.

      2. Urbanite

        > No it’s not :-) Seriously, I remember the ferment in the political blogosphere 2003-2006. Where the heck did that go?

        One of my favorite sites in those days was BOPNews. Matt Stoller seems to be the one original founder who is most visible (at least to me) and he recently tweeted about the CA45 race where I live.

        I have no idea where Den primary voters are, and I don’t know #CA45. I just know @katieporteroc stood up for foreclosure victims when on one else would. It’s not a sexy issue, and it’s not something people want to hear about. But Porter stood up to power, while Min served it.
        3:09 PM – 20 May 2018

      3. StephenVerchinski

        Went off the PCT just to see him and got off the trail after the Canadian border. Learned a lot, including about sheepdogs willing or not, and bring shorn of time money and whatever illusions I ever had about Democratic Party members. I would classify many as liars, many in party positions as working out psychological issues, and a great many as undiagnosed psychopathic sociopaths.

  13. Utah

    I think the author/ OR hitman is getting ahead of himself. We haven’t had any midterms yet, and he’s bashing OR’s inability to elect candidates. What we’ll need is a full 50-state OR tally of people who have been endorsed nationally and by the local chapters.
    What people aren’t seeing is boots on the ground. Our Revolution’s state affiliates have endorsed lots of candidates in tiny state wide or local races. They’re building a pipeline. My local chapter is 2 or 3 people working their tails off to make sure they endorse the best candidates, not just *a* candidate.
    Our Revolution also worked on a candidate training with PCCC for some of those races- from tiny school board races all the way up to Governor and Senate. PCCC has officially endorsed some of (maybe all of) these candidates, I don’t know why OR didn’t since they did the training together, and most of the sessions were facilitated by OR people.

    Also, thanks for linking to the Great Slate. I hadn’t heard of them.

  14. Kim Kaufman

    I read Ryan Grim. You can find him on the Intercept but he’s been doing old school emails when he writes something important. He’s been writing a lot about corrupt DCCC and the races they’re interfering with. Also Howie Klein at http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/

    “If repeat donations are indeed steady, then OR is a going concern, which is what matters.” My understanding is that a “going concern” to an accountant or auditor is used for an entity where there is a “going concern” that it does not have enough cash flow or other problems to keep it going as a solvent business. A “going concern” is not a good thing.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I read The Intercept too, and Ryan Grim is good (who would have thought this is the direction The Intecept would have headed). Not enough though. I would really like reports from the ground from people who are committed but non-partisan…. Like the small blogs that used to be everywhere (and maybe still are, but if they aren’t, where did the impulse go? What happened to the bloggers?)

      Going concern: “Going concern is an accounting term for a company that has the resources needed to continue to operate indefinitely until a company provides evidence to the contrary…..”

  15. Elizabeth Burton

    This revolution isn’t going to happen because of one organization, so any allegations about the failure and/or incompetence of Our Revolution is absurd. It’s propaganda, pure and simple, intended to tip any fence-sitters in the audience to the DNC side by playing on their sense of security. Better the enemy you know, etc.

    We also need to assume the MSM will do everything in its power to ensure the message doesn’t reach the public, unless it’s in the form of this Politico nonsense. Which, IMO, is intended to reinforce the idea there’s nothing to be done about the present situation except listen to Daddy DNC and accept your case of Trump derangement syndrome like good kiddies. The entire message from the establishment is that anything that argues against THE MESSAGE is right-wing trolls and/or Russian bots. Y’all know—outside agitators.

    If they’d been able to hold off till those of us who are too familiar with that phrase had died off, it might be different. Bummer.

    And, where they can’t undermine the fact that the country is moving left in a big way, they just co-opt it by pretending the progressives who win in spite of their efforts aren’t progressives, and they have the Democrats to thank for their wins. If those Democrats are local, then yes, that may be the case. More often, it’s not.

    Have you checked out the Sanders Institute, which is intended as an education source for not just OR but any progressive organization working to undercut the status quo? They’ve done two pieces on voter issues, including voter suppression, which as we all know isn’t important enough for attention from the MSM.

    A few people I know have been complaining that they don’t have a clue what DSA is up to even though they’re members.

    Have they signed up to get the DSA emails? I know exactly what DSA, both the national and my local, are doing because they send regular updates. One can also visit the website of the former for information. I have to say there isn’t any legitimate excuse for saying one doesn’t know what’s going on; it does, however, require some effort to open the channels of communication.

    I don’t think it’s accidental the Politico piece was extruded just a week after some major progressive victories. I think the Democrat establishment truly believed they had everything under control, especially after the first few progressives failed, usually for lack of support. They could pass Virginia off as a quirk, and Jones and Lamb reinforced their belief in their policy. Sure, they weren’t pulling in the cash like they used to, but it didn’t occur to them that was the small donors giving them a digit and sending money to candidates who paid attention to them instead of the monied class.

    People have given up hope of change. If OR does nothing but restore at least some of that hope, they’ve done their job.

    1. Steve H.

      Thanks for the Sanders Institute link.

      My friend Parker, who’s a self-identified Millennial, sent me this, which may not have a lot of views but gives a state-level strategy with some successes. Never heard of it, and the point is that there is not just one organization which can then be subsumed for individual gain, but bunches across the land. With specifics to vote for and not just against.

      > The political class will be, literally, the last to know of any re-alignment that takes place

      Parker was telling me about an American Indian activist-musician, I couldn’t remember his name, but search popped several, including Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, who is part of the Juliana v. US lawsuit. I note these young people are specifically not operating at the level of presidential politics, but by methods which have worked in the past.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > This revolution isn’t going to happen because of one organization, so any allegations about the failure and/or incompetence of Our Revolution is absurd.

      Well… I’m not sure what “the revolution” might mean, and some versions I wouldn’t support. If the three poles of left, liberal, and conservative were brought to balance in my lifetime, that in itself would improve the lives of working people (but see the idea of “non-reformist reform”).

      That said, the world really doesn’t need another left groupuscle. I’m certain the political class would love to fit OR (and the other organizations listed) into the MoveOn/PCCC/DFA box o’ silos. To avoid that trap, I think OR, or some institution in the OR space, has to scale up. I don’t see another way.

      1. Steve H.

        If that’s the case, and if the Sanders Institute is a real substrate under OR, then OR is the ship to ride.

        My priors are based in labor history, and running for office. In both cases, people helping people formed the moral cohesion which held up under conflict. Having specific principals and methods allowed power to be distributed. The experience gives epiphanies, so that unlike people have a like understanding.

        Maybe most important is redundancy. The fellows of the Sanders Institute are all excellent and flawed. The way to get a high-value signal with flawed units is through redundancy, and the redundant units in this case are local organizations with high link density. This is part of having a resilient network.

        Another part of system resilience is heterogeneity, and if the OR cohort can provide hub support to the local organizations then something good can happen. But the Clintons campaign had heterogeneity with asymmetry, the money flowed one-way to the top, and communication flowed the other way.

        In practical terms, we may see the difference by whether we see a get-out-the-vote national campaign as the focus, because the incentive structure leads to elitism. If OR is defined by its relation to the Democratic Party, it has silo’d itself already.

  16. Mattski

    Wish that long second bar were not in total disarray; would like to share this with friends. DSA’s been around for a while, no?

  17. edmondo

    Well maybe the folks at Our Revolution aren’t in disarray but they are a far cry from effective. They got clobbered in the primaries on 5/22 in Texas and Arkansas. If this group are the people who are going to take over the Democratic Party then the Clintonites can sleep very peacefully at night.

    1. DonCoyote

      But won the Georgia governor primary (the right Stacy, Abrams, who is OR endorsed). See also 40-50% have won, <100% winning is not a sign of being in disarray.

  18. Steven Greenberg

    I won’t go into the details because I don’t want to give anybody ideas, but at least one clerk in my father’s drug store figured out a way to take money without being caught at least not being caught until it became so noticeable that the detectives my father hired figured it out.

  19. DonCoyote

    So I was at the doctor and dentist (cracked tooth) yesterday, so I am late to the party.

    Anyway, I was trying to research Tezlyn Figaro, this friends of Nina Turner. Contrary to the story, she does seem to have at least some experience “building political organizations”, although maybe that is lawlerly parsing of “political organizations” (or creative autobiographing). Another problem seems to be that she is insufficiently critical of Trump/goes on Fox news.

    A few months ago, on Fox News, she said (paraphrased)Trump is consistent and goes outside of the box. Well, yes, I think so too. I guess because she didn’t lead with “unhinged lunatic” she is a Trump supporter and should not be associated with a left organization ever.

    Yes, Our Revolution has problems. Yes, Bernie Sanders and Nina Turner have problems. They are human, and politicians, so that is two strikes right there. Jeff Weaver, who is also part of Our Revolution, has a book out “How Bernie Won, but here is his response on Julian Assange:

    Q) Do you believe that Julian Assange received those emails from Russia?
    A) There’s certainly evidence to indicate that Julian Assange has ties to Russia. How the emails came to him? I obviously don’t have personal knowledge, but clearly Assange has ties to Russia.

    I don’t know what these clear ties are, except that they are often talked about together. Maybe this is being a politician and trying to avoid pissing off the mainstream Dems. Maybe it is lawyerly parsing. He certainly doesn’t say yes or no. It’s not an answer I’m personally happy with, but then that wasn’t his goal.

    And that is how I feel about Our Revolution. They have made mistakes. Hopefully they can learn from them. I will never be completely happy with them. But, as pointed by Lambert and commondreams, many of the supposed “disarray” signs actually look positives, not negatives.

  20. Seamus Padraig

    Our Revolution has shown no ability to tip a major Democratic election in its favor

    Nor has Hillary Clinton!

  21. freedomny

    I only skimmed the Politico piece..but I noticed it was very “granular” with regards to certain “facts” and “angles”….so I thought it strange that the PA wins were not covered.

    My older sister mentioned the other night that she remembers news when we were growing up as largely factual…in the 60-to early 70’s. Now it seems that almost all “news” is opinion journalism. This article reminded me of opinion journalism masquerading as factual journalism….

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