Bernie Sanders Slams ‘absolute failure’ Of Democratic Party’s Current Strategy


By Adam Gabatt
The Guardian (6/10/17)

Bernie Sanders has criticised the Democratic party’s current direction as “an absolute failure” in a speech at the People’s Summit in Chicago.

Speaking to a crowd of 4,000 activists, Sanders hailed the “enormous progress in advancing the progressive agenda”, saying the increasing House and Senate support for a $15 minimum wage and the opposition to the Trans-Pacific partnership showed the success of the movement.

But the Vermont senator said that establishment Democrats were standing in the way of further progress.

“The Democratic party must understand what side it is on. And that cannot be the side of Wall Street, or the fossil fuel industry, or the drug companies.”

“The current model and the current strategy of the Democratic party is an absolute failure,” Sanders said.

“The Democratic party needs fundamental change. What it needs is to open up its doors to working people, and young people, and older people who are prepared to fight for social and economic justice.

“The Democratic party must understand what side it is on. And that cannot be the side of Wall Street, or the fossil fuel industry, or the drug companies.”

Sanders’s speech was rapturously received at the People’s Summit, a gathering of some of the most influential progressive activists and organizations in the country.

There had been an urgency to the event on Friday and Saturday around building on the momentum of Sanders’s presidential campaign, with a focus on encouraging people from different backgrounds to run for office around the country.

Against that backdrop, Sanders’s criticism of the Democratic party as out-of-touch and elitist appeared to ring true for activists at the summit, including those who are planning to run for office for the first time in the coming months.

Brandy Brooks, who is running in the Democratic primary for the Montgomery county council in Maryland, told the Guardian that until recently she “didn’t think politics was for someone like me”.

“I am a short, black, slightly overweight-ish woman,” Brooks said, in a rather harsh self-assessment.

“I’m not a person who’s been in law, not a person who’s ever run for office, I’m not hooked up with party infrastructure.”

Brooks is running on a progressive agenda that includes providing better housing for those in need, improving public transport and increasing the wage. …

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Sanders Supporters Are Taking Over Democratic Party One State At A Time

“This is a womb, not a tomb. It’s the rebirth of the Democratic Party. We just have to keep pushing. We all felt bloodied and bruised by this battle, but we can’t give up. We’re changing things.” – Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, nurse & California Dem convention delegate.


By Theo Anderson
In These Times (6/8/17 / June Issue)

WHEN KIMBERLY ELLIS ENTERED THE CONTEST FOR CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY (CDP) chair in 2015, she adopted a slogan from Shirley Chisholm’s groundbreaking 1972 presidential campaign, “Unbought and Unbossed.” Four years before becoming the first woman and the first African American to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, Chisholm had defied the Democratic machine “bosses” in Brooklyn to win a House seat.

For Ellis, the slogan was both a nod to Chisholm and a dig at the bossed and bought character of the Democratic Party. She and her opponent in the race, Eric Bauman, agreed on a range of progressive policies, like single-payer healthcare and a minimum wage of at least $15. The heart of their dispute was the influence of economic elites and the political establishment over the party. Ellis, the former head of an organization devoted to recruiting women to enter politics, has long advocated reducing the influence of lobbyists and corporate money, and broadening the base by building a network of organizers and activists.

“I believe the CDP should hire organizers, not build an institute,” she noted in a statement of her principles, taking a swipe at Bauman’s idea of building a think tank devoted to progressive ideas. In her pitch at the state convention, Ellis told delegates, “If we want people to fight for the Democratic Party, we have to give them a Democratic Party worth fighting for.”

“If you’re taking that corporate check you’re not pushing a $15 minimum wage; you’re not pushing Medicare for all; you’re not pushing free higher education. You’re going along with the corporate agenda.” – Jim Hightower

Bauman is a longtime party insider—chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party since 2000, vice chair of the state party since 2009 and senior adviser to the speaker of the state Assembly, Anthony Rendon. He also runs a political consulting firm, VictoryLand Partners. This became a major issue in the race for state chair when it emerged that VictoryLand had received more than $100,000 from pharmaceutical companies that opposed a ballot measure designed to cap prescription drug prices in California. Bauman, in his defense, said, “I’m certainly not using my personal influence with anybody on this matter.”

Because it was a ballot measure, legislators weren’t directly complicit in its defeat, but the ties between Rendon, Bauman and VictoryLand looked bad. For Ellis supporters, the issue came to sum up the rot in the Democratic Party. At the convention’s general assembly on Saturday, May 20, they frequently interrupted and chanted over speakers. Ellis supporters formed a ring around the event hall, many of them clad in bright pink “Unbought Unbossed” T-shirts, chanting “Kim-ber-ly!” The retiring state chair, 84-year-old John Burton, eventually took the microphone and invited the protesters to “sit the fuck down, please” and show “some fucking courtesy.”

“The party is at a real fork in the road. We have to choose between building a party for the working class or for the 1%. The lines are being pretty starkly drawn.” – Rand Wilson, a labor organizer for SEIU Local 888 and a member of both Our Revolution Massachusetts and Labor for Our Revolution.

Later that day, when the votes were counted and word spread that Ellis had fallen short by 62 ballots, out of about 3,000 cast—a margin so close that the Ellis camp challenged the result, triggering a review still ongoing—it seemed to many of her supporters like a rerun of the same old, same old. Bernie vs. Hillary. Ellison vs. Perez. Close but not quite. For all the passion of the insurgents, the establishment still gripped the reins of power. One Ellis supporter at the convention, Wendy Ruiz, a delegate from South Los Angeles, expressed her frustration and disappointment with the disconnect between the party’s words and deeds. “At what point are you going to step up for us and do what you said that you would?” she asked.As Democrats gear up for the 2018 election cycle, that disconnect is fueling passionate efforts to transform the party. Whether this uprising by the party’s progressive wing is a false start or the start of a revolution, it is without doubt the most serious fissure in the party since its centrist and leftist wings came to blows over the Vietnam War in 1968—the year that Shirley Chisholm was elected to Congress as an anti-war Democrat. …

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