Bernie Sanders spent a yearlong campaign promoting a political revolution to transform the face of American politics forever – and now he’s got a list of 6,700 people that want to run for local political office and another 4,300 ready to volunteer all across America. Sanders is shrewdly leveraging the enthusiastic support that propelled him into a neck-and-neck battle against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Presidential nomination into a support network aimed at re-shaping American politics from the local level up – a progressive Tea Party, if you will, but one actually powered by the people and not by the Koch Brothers.
Sanders flexed his national fundraising muscles just last month by endorsing the Democratic Congressional candidate Tim Canova, who is running for the first time in South Florida this year against embattled DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Canova recently announced that he raised over $2,000,000 in under six months, an unheard of number from a first-time candidate in a Democratic primary race. His average donation is only $17.
The Democratic base has been enlarged by Bernie Sanders, fired up by his rhetorical flourish and passionate supporters whose voices ring loud and clear both online and off. If Sanders can achieve for Democrats in 2016 – with small donations and broad support – a local level landslide similar to the Tea Party’s Astroturf movement fueled by dirty Koch petrodollars, it could change American politics forever.
Unbeknownst to casual political observers, the 2010 off-year elections also passed control of writing the congressional map into the Republican party’s grimy hands. In recent elections, Republican congressmen have consistently held 55% of the House of Representatives with slightly under 45% of the vote.
So it’s a big deal that Sanders is recruiting Democratic candidates on the local level. If Democrats can combine the Sanders surge with Secretary Clinton’s well oiled presidential campaign machine, by the general elections of 2020 we could see a proverbial sea of change in the way our governments behave across the country.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition