Tag Archives: Bernie Sanders

Time Running Out for Bernie to Make a Deal

Little Rock      Depending on how you look at it, one of the assets – or liabilities – of being an organizer for over fifty years, is that in the immortal words of the old country and western song, you know “when to hold ‘em, and when to fold ‘em.”  The clock is running out on Senator Bernie Sanders to fold ‘em with grace and make the best deal for his base and on our issues.  Much longer, and he will have held his cards too long, and they will have no value whatsoever.

After the “big” Tuesday primary where he lost pretty much two-to-one across the demographics in Arizona, despite claims of huge Latino support, and in the multinational mix of Florida, and the urban-rural combine in Illinois.  He’s down almost 300 delegates at this point.  There’s virtually no mathematical probability that he might somehow win in the remaining primaries.  He’s not just toast, He’s burnt.

Before the Arizona debates, he seemed to be talking directly to reality and moving towards an accommodation on the issues that might move his hardcore base into the column for former Vice-President Joe Biden in the election against Trump.  In the actual debate, he seemed to have lost a bit of a grip on where he stood in the overall race as opposed to the moment in the desert sun.

A friend, colleague, and longtime San Francisco-based organizer and Sanders-supporter, Mike Miller, shared with me correspondence he had with the campaign after their defeats in Super Tuesday where he had been a volunteer.  Saying, “continued exposure of how bad Biden’s record is on economic (and other) justice issues will only undermine our ability to defeat Trump in November,” he called on Sanders to make a deal and offered these points for the negotiation among others:

now is the best time for Bernie Sanders to negotiate with Joe Biden for such things as:

(a) Cabinet positions in a Biden administration,

(b) legislation that he will submit to Congress or support,

(c) executive orders he will issue upon his installation as President,

(d) positioning of the Sanders organization in states that are crucial for the electoral college AND where there are House or Senate progressive candidates running for whom Sanders volunteers would be pleased to work,

(e) DNC reforms.

Another longtime organizing colleague, Larry Cohen, formerly president of the Communications Workers of America and head of Our Revolution, the Sanders 2016 campaign spinoff, offered in the Times the other day a comment essentially saying that Sanders listens to a different drum, is committed to his path, and it would be hard to predict his decision going forward.  Larry knows the real deal, and he’s been to the rodeo enough to know it’s over and the time for a deal is diminishing by the hour.

To have any chance of negotiating with any leverage on progressive issues now is the time in the midst of the crisis to argue for unity publicly and make a deal privately on the best terms still available.

Before it’s too late and no one picks up the phone.


Please enjoy Eric Johnson – Waterwheel

Thanks to WAMF.


Good Advice for Big Organizing from Sanders Campaign Innovators

New Orleans   Having already read a number of pieces about the guts of the Bernie Sanders campaign from different perspectives, when I saw that my friends and comrades Becky Bond, who I’ve known back when CREDO was Working Assets and I would run into her in their San Francisco office, and Zach Exley back to his early days at SEIU, had written a book, I made a mental note to put it on my long to-read-list, but I wasn’t in any hurry for another slog in the “look at me, I was there” campaign book genre. I was wrong. This is an organizing book and should be on the top of the pile for anyone who wants to see serious organizations and social movements built from the ground up to build power and make change. I mean it. This book will be required reading for our organizers meeting in January.

The book is entitled, Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything, which is a little tongue and cheek riff off of some of their slams at old school Alinsky organizers and precepts. I actually agree and embrace their critique of one-on-ones and the wrong-headed cult of paid and so-called “professional” organizers and the limits of its scalability, although some of their other shots miss the target, but “big organizing” as the title would have spread the net wider, and this book needs to be read by anyone who wants to organize for change. Having just spent months with a political party in the Netherlands devising a system to maximize their volunteers and go whole hog with phone auto-dialers, I read the book excitedly in the way scientists in different parts of the world might marvel at how parallel our work was without having any idea that others were on the same track. I found myself scrolling for their emails and excited to reach out for them.

This is not the Sanders model book. Becky and Zack are clear that they failed to convince the campaign to endorse their approaches as fully as they felt warranted by the results. Like all organizers running field operations, they rue the millions spent on sending television ads out into the void, rather than investing more in the field where the differences are real, immediate, and measurable. Of course a lot of the book is a thank you note to their colleagues and props for their stars, but the meat of the book is invaluable as an outline for their “barnstorms” and phone operations.

Importantly, for real-police organizers, the book is also refreshingly hard headed and pragmatic and aligns well with what so many of us do day to day. Here are some examples from the one chapter that specifically lists “rules” of a sort:

· Be outcome-focused
· Respect and learn from volunteers
· Practice “high input, low democracy” as a team
· Choose speed over perfection
· Embrace productive conflict but not yelling
· Keep out of email trouble
· Operate on East Coast time
· Don’t be defeated by meetings
· Eat your own dog food
· Take care of yourselves and each other
· Be grateful for your team

See what I mean. This is actually great, solid advice for any organization and organizing effort. I might add even for political campaigns. It’s not the Ten Commandments. For example you could pick any time zone, but picking one would help reduce confusion, but all of these “rules” are good examples of the kind of solid, nuts and bolts, no baloney advice that Zack and Becky provide in this book that, taken seriously, will advance all of our work.

Read this book!