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Bernie Sanders’ Moment Of Truth: These Are the Political Fights He Could Win Right Now

July 21, 2015 in Blogs

By David Dayen, Salon

He's electrified the Democratic Party, but how will that translate into actual change? The ball's in his court, now.

Bernie Sanders explicitly wants to start a political revolution in America. Judging from the crowd of 11,000 supporters in Phoenix on Saturday night, that has already taken place. Within a short period, Sanders has become the most electrifying presence on the 2016 campaign trail, attracting bigger crowds than any presidential candidate of either party. He has the grassroots army that he says is the critical component to progressive change. Now the question becomes what he will do with it, immediately, before any primary vote is cast.

After some unfortunate tone-deafness dealing with a protest from #BlackLivesMatter activists at Netroots Nation – something the campaign is already working to correct – Sanders rallied audiences in Phoenix, Houston and Dallas over the weekend. At the Phoenix Convention Center, the notably young crowd has gotten to know the democratic socialist’s positions so well (probably from his applause lines being tweeted on the campaign Twitter feed) that they repeated them in real time, like lip-synching at a concert. He has captured the imagination of a segment of the population who feels ill-served by the narrowness of our politics.

Among liberal millennials in their formative political years, Sanders offers truth-to-power rhetoric that speaks to the disappointments of the Obama years, on issues like Wall Street’s power, the takeover of government by the wealthy and the need for single-payer universal health care. Sanders’ path for sustaining real change is entirely based upon bottom-up organizing. “The key mistake of the Obama Administration,” Sanders said last year to Bloomberg, “was to more or less disband the grassroots network that he had put together to get elected.”

Now Sanders has that grassroots network, or at least a critical mass of people willing to listen to him on the issues of the day. There is no more prominent voice on the American political left today, save for Elizabeth Warren. And Sanders is arguably more visible right now, with news-making rallies and a growing email list (the campaign won’t say how big).

This gives Sanders an opportunity …read more


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