With only ten days until Iowans flood to the caucuses to cast the first vote for the 2016 Presidential Elections, phone banking, volunteering, and registering to vote are the most important tasks that any Bernie Sanders supporter can do. We need to get as many people voting for Bernie in Iowa as possible, with a secondary focus on New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, and the Super Tuesday states which will hold their primaries in less than 40 days.
As we know, Bernie Sanders is not running a conventional Presidential campaign. The Vermont senator isn’t touring the richest zip codes in the country to ask for $2,700 donations, and he’s not followed by a coalition of SuperPACs amassing millions in campaign contributions for negative TV spots. The corporate interests which fund both the Democratic and Republican establishment have not endorsed him, and thus, the politicians they fund have also not backed Bernie’s campaign. While Get Out The Vote (GOTV) operations are certainly the focus of Bernie’s official campaign, and millions of grassroots volunteers must also be involved in these efforts, we must remember that this is also a political revolution. As Bernie said recently: “This is not about me. It’s about you.”
This transformational moment is comprised of not just Bernie’s paid staffers and volunteers in early primary states, but a nationwide network of grassroots organizations who have formed since Bernie began his campaign last May. This includes the Grassroots for Sanders reddit community, People for Bernie, which includes constituencies such as Women for Bernie, Millennials for Bernie, Latinos for Bernie, and African Americans for Bernie, and many other groups which are motivated by the Senator’s call to action.
These bottom-up makeshift organizations are redefining what it means to be political, organizing a variety of concerts, parties, rallies, and other unique events which have the potential to attract crowds that aren’t traditionally politically involved. The latest effort, #MarchForBernie, is a perfect representation of the DIY energy sparked by Bernie’s presidential campaign. The original nationwide event was started by Ryan Thomas, a millennial supporter of Bernie Sanders. Soon after, other people who joined the page took initiative and created local events in their area, forming a nationwide day of action with 35 marches taking place this Saturday, none of which required any effort from the official campaign.
While some Bernie supporters have criticized the #MarchForBernie, because in their view, phone banking, canvassing, petition drives, and voter registrations are the priority, they might not realize that creative events such as Saturday’s marches represent the political revolution that will continue whether or not Bernie Sanders is inaugurated on January 20th, 2017. The message of these decentralized marches isn’t that our tactic is more important than traditional GOTV activities, but that much like Bernie says, he cannot accomplish these changes alone. We need a mass movement which pressures Congress to work in our interests, rather than the billionaires and major corporations who have a stranglehold on our political system.
It’s important to note that many of the #MarchForBernie events will include rallies which feature voter registration tables, petition signing, handing out literature, and other activities to directly support Bernie’s candidacy. However, by taking further action, marching through cities and communities throughout this country with pro-Bernie signs highlighting the important issues we face, we are adding another dimension to this movement to restore our democracy.
The #MarchForBernie will create buzz on three levels, which together help build and spread the energy of the grassroots:
- Members of the community along the march routes and rally points will see hundreds, if not thousands, of Bernie Sanders supporters in the streets they frequent everyday, demonstrating the passion and urgency of this moment. If they are unfamiliar with Bernie, witnessing these events might motivate them to visit his website to learn more about his platforms and record.
- Local media, and possibly national media will be receptive to the #MarchForBernie events, since they are already focused on the 2016 Presidential Election. Footage from these events will be spread through both broadcast and digital media, further familiarizing the public with Bernie Sanders and his platform for change.
- Participants across the country will be posting clips, images, and updates to social media, unified under the #MarchForBernie hashtag, which not only promotes Bernie Sanders and the day of action, but strengthens our bonds of solidarity beyond the temporal boundaries of the public square and the street.
For too long, marches and direct action has been divorced from both local and national campaigns for political office. On Saturday, we will re-link these tactics to create a fuller theory of change. So yes, we ALL need to get involved in making sure that Bernie Sanders wins early states like Iowa and New Hampshire, but by holding non-traditional meetups and grassroots events like #MarchForBernie, we are activating a diversity of tactics which is necessary if we are serious about holding Wall Street accountable and taking America back from the billionaire class.
See you in the streets.
NOTE: Bernie Sanders will also be hosting a national livestream after the #MarchForBernie at 6PM ET. Find your local event!