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Defending Bernie

Where Will "Our Revolution" Lead?—Gene Rothman

Responses to “Our Revolution” from Survey Respondents-Part II-Favorable Replies

This report examines positive responses from the survey done by the L.A. Progressive on the “Our Revolution” (OR) launch by Bernie Sanders on August 24th.

A previous report focused on criticisms of the OR launch.

This report also addresses suggestions about where the movement might go from here. A link to the survey is here: Our Revolution—Really?

There were two broad categories of positive responses:

  • Those fully supportive of the OR launch and
  • Those who were supportive with some reservations.

The former were characterized by words such as “enthusiastic,” “excited,” and the like. I also included those who were “realists” arguing that, while nothing is perfect, OR “was a good place to start.” The second group was generally supportive but who expressed a tangible reservation, usually expressed in more than a sentence or so. I also included here those who took a “wait and see” attitude or who otherwise expressed “open-mindedness.”

The survey respondents, in my view, are a sophisticated audience who are often aware of nuances, and very mindful of both the promise of action as well as potential pitfalls. This presented, at times, a challenging task when categorizing responses. If the lead sentence began with something positive about the OR, I categorized it as fully supportive, regardless of reservations that might have been added later—unless the reservations were stated fairly strongly or at length. If the latter, I placed them in the “general approval” category. I will be the first to acknowledge that this is subjective process, but I hope one that follows the guidelines noted. Readers are advised to cross check my sorting process by referring to the item number of the response following a sample quotation. You can then make your own independent assessment.

Which of the following best describes your response to the “Our Revolution” event? (Q3).

Enthusiastic Support: N= 21 (of 144 responses).��Sample Responses:

  • This [OR] is for helping progressive candidates. The critiques are ridiculous and need to stop. Bernie is America's hero and is doing great things #87
  • Bernie Sanders continued to promote the Progressive Agenda that helped to inspire a new generation of activists. The "Our Revolution" event re-energized some to stay active. #47
  • This movement, and others that might emerge from it, is vital for a revolutionary transformation of the US and the world. Peace and planetary survival are at stake. #64

Strong Support from Political “Realists”

  • I'm just glad there is a tangible organization to tap into in order to promote good candidates and issues. #95
  • Sanders inspired a movement that challenged the fundamental premise of Wall Street Democratic ideology. Wikileaks' public disgracing of Clinton's echo chamber, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, demonstrated the depths of the depravity to which the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party will stoop to get themselves into the oval office to serve as manager of the interests of America's ruling class. Sanders has presented a way that progressives can survive in that toxic environment. {Emphasis added). #24
  • No matter what Bernie chooses to do, we can push for the same results: More Progressives in Congress. This is good for us no matter who wins the election. #1
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General Approval: Sample Responses

  • Happy and glad but not inspired. #36
  • Even if Our Revolution does not take off yet, they are laying the ground work to take action when the out-of-control financial system and plutocrats crash the economy again. #42

“Wait and See” - Sample Responses

  • I think it's a good idea but we have to see how it develops. #25

Suggestions for Future Actions and Direction:

  • The key goal of OR were reflected throughout both strong supporters and general supporters. Even some critics of the OR recognized the value of having progressive candidates in office at all levels of government. I did not provide a tally for these responses.
  • The major suggestion for moving forward was a focus on local issues and “down-ticket” races including school boards, judges, and on specific ballot propositions. In a sense, this emphasis builds a floor or platform that might enable the growth of more progressive representatives at all levels of government in the future. It might also set the stage, some would argue, for an eventual takeover of the Democratic Party itself by its more progressive wing.

Local Issues- Sample Responses:

  • Given the slim margins that often exist in local political races like for school board members, it is an excellent idea for Our Revolution to back local progressive Our Revolution supporters to try and overcome the endemic corruption of organizations like LAUSD and districts like it around the country. #16
  • So what I took away from the event is that we cannot wait for someone or some group at the top to change the direction of our nation. We must do this ourselves by organizing locally and utilizing the organizational skills of the people who were selected to run the nonprofit "Our Revolution" to support and expand the efforts of every local group. "Our Revolution" is the umbrella, not the foot soldiers on the ground. #65
  • Bernie is right, if we want to change things in our government, we need to start at the bottom and start putting progressives in positions from the bottom on up and we have to get rid of Citizens United.. #81
  • I am eager to get to work with grassroots organizing to take back our "government by the people" at every level from school board through national. #111

About 70% of the survey respondents were very supportive or generally supportive of the OR launch. For those who support the progressive wing of the Democratic party and/or see it as the most realistically viable means of changing America, the vision of electing people to Congress and, perhaps even more, building a strong foundation at the local level holds strong appeal.

In my local area, Culver City, some have already begun to do so. The Culver City Council will be confronted about its adherence to its own Code of Ethics.

One barrier to progress, in my view, is the insularity of the many OR groups. As one respondent noted:

I wanted to be able to connect with other Bernie supporters in my area, to build at the local level; there was no mechanism yet for that. #141

As for a the prospects of wresting control from the Clinton wing of the party in the future this will entail engagement with an entrenched establishment that will not easily surrender its power. As Ruth Coniff noted:

“If enough Bernie people are willing to work with the suits and hacks and the phonies they detest, long enough and hard enough to take over the Democratic Party and force it to fulfill its progressives ideals, they could transform American politics.” The Progressive, September 2016, p. 18.

This is a long-term task, and some progressives doubt that the Democratic Party can be changed at all. But for now, most respondents feel that the battle must be waged at all levels and that it is up to us to do it.

Gene Rothman