Thursday, April 28, 2016

What's the Big Idea?

Dear friends of Bernie,

We’re doing fine.  We’re doing just fine.  We really are. 

The Powers that Be, the billionaire class and their flaks and agents, are doing their best to stop us.  Their message is "Clinton is Inevitable!" "Resistance is Futile!  Give Up and Go Home!" 

They seem to actually believe that because Clinton won a few primaries they’ve got us beat, and we’ll sober up and admit it, or at least Bernie will.  They seem to actually believe we’ll slink back into line and get with the program.

They think they’ve got us beat, but they don’t.  Every day this campaign goes on in any corner of this country, more people are thinking and talking about Bernie’s ideas, and every day we continue is a win, because this revolution belongs to us all.  It belongs to the people of Indiana who vote next week.  It belongs to the people of Puerto Rico and California who vote in June.  Every phone call we make, every Bernie Journey, every dollar we donate helps build it.  And we owe it to them to give them their turn!

They think they’ve got us beat, but they can’t beat us, because you can’t kill an idea, and once an idea is loose and in people’s hearts there’s no stopping it.  

There’s a Big Idea they’ve been trying to keep bottled up ever since most of us can remember.  Like Aladdin’s genie, it’s out of the bottle now and no one can put it back!  And it changes everything!
Thanks to Sanders Campaign millions of people are now talking about the whole spectrum of issues that confront us.  But none of it by itself is new.  So what’s this Big Idea?

It’s not the idea of massive job creation through public works and projects.  There are people alive today who remember that’s what Franklin Roosevelt did, plenty who’ve been saying we need to do it again.
It’s not the idea of making healthcare a human right, available to everyone rich or poor.  Harry Truman tried to get that past Congress in 1948, and folks have been fighting for it ever since.

It’s not the idea that the billionaire class has corrupted and bought our political system and that we need campaign reform, that we need to get Big Money out of politics. People have been saying that, fighting for that for years.

Nor is it the understanding that the super-rich, the billionaires, have rigged the whole economy so they’re getting richer and richer while the rest of us get screwed. or the idea of breaking up the big banks, freeing our young people from student debt or equal pay for women.  

It’s not the idea of banning private prisons, or ending the war on drugs, ending police violence against people of color, immigration reform or bringing our jobs home from Mexico and China. Nor the idea of ending foreign tax havens, taxing financial transactions or making the millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share. 

It’s not even the idea of bringing everyone together to fight for all of these once, although that’s getting closer.  So what’s this Big Idea that ties this all together? 

It turns out we all knew most or all of the things Bernie’s talking about already.  Bernie didn’t suddenly come along and start preaching the truth and suddenly the scales fell from everyone’s eyes.  Bernie is telling us things we all already knew were true!  

And we already knew that the Networks, the news media were manipulating us and creating illusions, but most of us believed the final illusion: that of all those other lazy stupid people out there watching TV and believing it all.  And so we played it safe and didn’t speak out.

The Big Idea:  we’re all in this together, we all know what’s up, and if we come together, speak out, stand up for each other, and stand together to confront the billionaire class and demand our country back, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish!  

This idea, with your help, is spreading like wildfire across the land!  We're in an Emperor’s New Clothes moment, when everyone starts speaking what everyone already knew was true but were afraid to say.
So courage my friends!  Let’s keep organizing and carry on!   

This is only the first stage of our revolution, and it’s far from over!  A lot can happen between now and July, but win or lose it’s not over then either.  This is just the beginning!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Can Bernie win in poor urban neighborhoods?

Do city folk, Black folk, Latinos love Hillary and reject Bernie?  

I've been out canvassing in working-class neighborhoods in Hartford and Woonsocket, and I saw no sign of this.  I can tell you, Bernie's problem is not folks who love Hillary or dislike Bernie, but that Bernie's supporters have not been out organizing in those urban neighborhoods - and the media is still giving him short shrift.  As Cornell West famously observed, the problem is that Black voters don't know Brother Bernie.

The voters I met who know about Bernie and have really listened to his message are often passionate about supporting him and about getting their friends and relations out to vote for him too.  I saw no distinction here between Black, brown or white voters, young, medium or old, Anglo or Latino.  But there were far too many in these neighborhoods who didn't know him, and even, shockingly, who didn't know his name.

I didn't meet any genuinely enthusiastic Hillary supporters this weekend, but did meet some whose  support for her was firm.  Most appeared to be making a calculation - it's time for a woman, or they have to vote for Hillary because they're Democrats (what?), or they have to vote for Hillary to stop Trump. (!?) Few had really listened to and considered Bernie.

Among white voters in these mixed working-class neighborhoods I heard a lot more support for Trump than for Hillary - just how much I'm not certain because who support Trump seem reluctant - or even ashamed - to admit it. Those I asked told me they didn't hear about Bernie until this year - when the media finally ended its Bernie Blackout - by which time they had already committed to Trump.  Some expressed bitterness toward less-deserving Spanish-speaking neighbors who are doing better than themselves.  Many fell back on the position that all politicians are crooks so why not support one who's at least honest about it!

If Bernie doesn't get the nomination we face a very dangerous political crisis, and we still have a huge organizing drive ahead of us either way.  But the organized expression of the real views needs and feelings of the working people has become legitimate, and a cloud has lifted from the minds and hearts of millions.  However difficult our circumstances may become, we have made a big step forward and there is no going back.  

What happened in New York? Or, does Bernie really have a Black People Problem Part I


After the New York Primary: Analysis from a Bernie Volunteer

by Chris Horton
chris horton
What I heard on the phone calls to New York State was heartening, even amazing.   We saturated New York State in an absolutely unprecedented national volunteer phone-bank operation – our goal was 2 million calls on Saturday and Sunday and we hit 3 million – and huge numbers of doors were knocked by volunteers, including many from Worcester County.  Bernie supporters in New York were lit up!
Hillary won (or captured) New York State, 58%-42%. I’ll admit to being very disappointed, but not discouraged. The New York State Democratic Primary was rigged against us from the start. 
  • Polls in most of Upstate New York where Bernie was expected to run strongest opened at 12 Noon, while polls in New York City and suburbs, Buffalo and a few other cities opened at 6am.
  • Only registered Democrats could vote in the primary. Voters registered in another party or no party needed to have changed their registration by last October (!), long before many voters had even heard of Bernie thanks to the corporate media blackout!
  • Hundreds of thousands of people (over 100,000 just in Brooklyn!) reported their voter registrations changed without their permission or lost.
Bernie won big in Upstate New York, winning in every county except Erie (Buffalo), Monroe County (Rochester) and Onondaga County (Syracuse) and nearly broke even in those, losing Erie County by less than 1000 votes. He won in Albany County and every other upstate county, rural or urban, some by nearly 3 to 1! Three cheers for the many Worcester volunteers who travelled to Albany and Poughkeepsie to knock on doors! (See
The Sanders Campaign is alive and well, … But there’s still the disastrous issue of the urban Black and Latino vote.
Looking at the election results of New York City precincts, nearly every Black-majority precinct and most of the Latino-majority precincts were won by Clinton. This is important,  but this is where the corporate media stops. Luckily, the Times also provides a breakdown of precincts by income (  I spent some time scanning over these, comparing them to the results by race and ethnicity.
  • -Not surprisingly, precincts with average income over $100,000 nearly all went to Hilary, the wealthiest, such as Central Park East and lower Park Ave., by margins of nearly 10 to 1.
  • Precincts with incomes under $50,000 – including nearly all the Black and Latino precincts – overwhelmingly went for Clinton, with a few clusters of white- and Latino-majority and a very few Black-majority precincts that went for Sanders.
  • Bernie showed considerable strength in precincts with incomes between $50K and $100K – roughly, the stable but struggling working class – winning about half. Most of his wins in Black and Latino majority precincts were in this income group.
So how do we account for Clinton’s strength among the urban poor – black, brown, Latino and white?  This is critical for us to understand if our Political Revolution is to build a coalition strong enough to confront the billionaire class.  
Here are some of my thoughts:
The people of the Bronx, Harlem, northern Brooklyn, eastern Queens – and Main South, Quinsigamond Village and South Worcester – are already organized in
  • Churches and other religious institutions and charities
  • Grant-funded movements around anti-foreclosure work, ex-prisoners rights and criminal justice reform, immigrant rights, anti-repression, civil rights, public safety and health, education, job training, welfare rights and many more.
  • Union-sponsored low-wage organizing through SEIU, the AFL/CIO and Jobs with Justice, such as Fight for 15.
  • Small businesses and their customers, everything from bars and taverns to black-market distribution systems.
  • Clubs and lodges.
  • Schools and parents groups.
  • the system of elected officeholders providing constituent services – mostly fixing problems, a kind of institutionalized corruption – and their campaign organizations, 
  • many who would have been active in a movement like the Sanders Campaign in bygone eras now work for government and government-funded agencies.
Some of these groups are already working and fighting for Bernie’s program – but won’t touch the Sanders Campaign. Their struggles need to continue – with our support – regardless, but we have to solve the problem of drawing them into the political revolution. They, or at least their members and activists, naturally align with us, but nearly all are blocked from supporting it by:
  • tax laws forbidding political activity by non-profits and churches.
  • laws forbidding political activity by government employees and government-funded agencies.
  • the unspoken but very real agendas of foundations and their wealthy donors, and of wealthy board members.
  • the institutional ties, relationships and commitments of political and labor leaders.
  • the blind-spots of many top leaders who live in other communities and don’t share their members’ experiences.
  • fear of being targeted by police, regulators and inspectors of all sorts.
These constraints are widely internalized as the belief that politics is dirty and divisive – fed by the media’s constant pushing of hot-button issues – and a widespread belief that only local efforts can make a difference.
Of all the ways poor communities are organized, perhaps the one least walled off by these barriers may be small businesses such as variety and liquor stores, auto repair and tire shops, barber and beauty shops and more. Their owners are independent-minded, deeply connected to their communities and often opinion leaders.  It’s certainly worth exploring.
This tension, this disastrous division in the progressive forces in the US at this critical moment of political and economic crisis, must be solved, and quickly, because only a political revolution with Black, Latino and working class leadership can fully take hold, last and win!
Back to the bright side: my calls to New York voters, as with my calls into Wisconsin two weeks ago, uncovered truly remarkable evidence of a self-organization process underway, such as we would expect in the early stages of a revolution.  Whenever I spoke to someone who said they had voted for Bernie or definitely would, I asked them if they had any friends, family or relations who they knew wanted to vote for Bernie, who might possibly forget until too late, who maybe could use a reminder call.  Most, regardless of their age, apparent ethnicity or what part of the state they lived in, insisted that they had already talked to all their family and friends and were confident they felt strongly enough to be sure they would vote.  Some said they had all gone to vote together!  Some said their friends had called them to remind them!
We need to continue working toward knitting this process together into a movement that can endure and continue despite the inevitable setbacks we will face, confident in the power of a united and determined people!