What Republicans Can Learn From Bernie
What made Bernie different in 2016
I had never participated in a political campaign before Bernie. I had no idea what to expect. One veteran of political campaigns advised that the campaign HQ would contact us soon on what to do next.
That didn't happen.
We, the people, just did it. We (including myself) made posters, organized events, set up websites, set up Facebook groups. We didn't wait to be told what to do.
Don't get me wrong. Bernie has standards and his campaign kept an eye on volunteers to ensure their conduct properly represented him. If you had a temper when dealing with political opponents, used a foul mouth when describing Hillary, then you were out. Other than that, we just did it.
What in the world was this craziness?
It's called a grassroots campaign.
Hillary's version of a grassroots campaign involved being called to a meeting by her Wall Street donors and asked why her grassroots campaign wasn't working. (Hint: It didn't work because it was not a grassroots campaign as evidenced by the Wall Street donors controlling it.)
Trump's version of a grassroots campaign is to say what poor people want to hear. Then do whatever benefits his business.
But not Bernie. Bernie Sanders was a campaign run by the people. Why in the world would we think a career politician knows better than us how to reach people like us? They don't.
We know there are homeless people in Moore Square and that a great way to kill two birds with one stone is to take them food while wearing Bernie shirts.
We know what kind of fun young people like to have and we organized watch parties appropriately.
We know that we have professional expertise we can donate to the campaign, saving the campaign, and thus, the people contributing to it, tons of money.
We aren't idiots. We're perfectly capable of carrying out the first step in a true democratic process - running a campaign.
Did it do any good?
I mean, Bernie isn't president. So it was a complete failure, right?
Bernie remains wildly popular, tweeting about issues non-stop. Without being president, he has impacted Walmart and Amazon's treatment of their employees. He keeps pushing for the next step, never satisfied with less-than humanitarian treatment of everyone.
Bernie's supporters are itching to start the next campaign. They're ready to build new state websites for the campaign, set up new Facebook groups, and organize informal, last-minute gatherings to support Bernie while supporting their communities.
Trump doesn't need a grassroots campaign
Probably not. He appeals to our basest desires like racism, white nationalism, and greed. That really gets people going. They get angry, upset, hyped, and never realize they're not actually doing anything themselves. They're too busy handling their emotions to realize the guy they elected is working against their best interests.
Trump allegedly has the money to fund his own campaign (although apparently, he takes donations) so he shouldn't have to worry about appealing to the masses for $3 donations like Bernie.
But Trump won't be president forever. And it's not just about president. There are many other elected offices, all being run very poorly.
Here's the Secret to Beating Democrats
I hate to put the secret out there, but I will, in the interest of democracy.
If the Republicans want to beat the Democrats in the future, here's the plan:
- Put forward a candidate who focuses on issues constantly. "I look forward to serving the people of Alabama" tells me nothing about a candidate's stance on any issue whatsoever.
- This candidate must listen when people speak, even if they come up on stage and grab the microphone. Just be like Bernie and go talk amongst the crowd.
- Don't encourage violence. This is not only wrong but detracts from #1. Like Bernie, instead of getting angry when someone literally or figuratively grabs your microphone, the candidate should refocus their energy.
- Encourage the people to run your campaign. If your campaign sits idle until someone from HQ tells the local people what to do, your supporters do not truly believe in you.
- To get a candidate's supporters to believe in them, refer back to #1. However...
- The candidate, like Bernie, needs to have spent years or decades committed to the causes they now say they stand for. Talk is cheap. Talk is important, but on it's own, it's cheap. Bernie can back up his beliefs with decades of work. Hillary can't. Trump only works for himself.
- Trust your people. I'm not saying there shouldn't be oversight. But trust your people to promote you in the spirit your put forth.