Prominent staff members of Bernie’s 2016 presidential campaign, including former national political outreach coordinator Nick Brana, are pressuring Sanders (who still has not officially joined the Democratic Party) to instead create a new party, using the enormous mass base he built up during the primary.
They are calling the campaign Draft Bernie for a People’s Party.
In an interview (video below), Brana pointed out that there is an historical precedent for this in the US: Abraham Lincoln and anti-slavery activists created the Republican Party when the Whig Party was in shambles in the 1850s, much as the Democratic Party is today.
Fast forward 150 years, and, “The Republican Party would not be able to do what it does, including getting all the way to Trump, without facilitation, willing facilitation, by the Democrats,” Brana emphasized.
Like countless others, Brana has spent years working within the Democratic Party — and like countless others, has recognized that the neoliberal, imperialist, Wall Street-backed party is incapable of being reformed, yet alone taken over by socialists. (After all, it was prominent former Republican strategist Kevin P. Phillips who described the Democrats as “history’s second-most enthusiastic capitalist party.”)
I know I and many others are significantly to the left of Sanders, who is simply a European-style social democrat, but I think this is a very welcome first step. The Democratic Party is and has always been the graveyard of social movements.
Enormous numbers of people agree. Nearly half of eligible voters did not participate in the 2016 presidential election (and this does not even consider the millions of people who have been disenfranchised). And, since the election, at least 14 million Democrats have become independents.
An idea I’ve been deliberating for a while now is the prospect of building a big tent socialist party outside of the Democrats, perhaps one like this — a coalition party that has wings and tendencies that could potentially encompass existing socialist parties and organizations.
It also bears stressing that many of the people who were politicized by Bernie’s campaign are to the left of him, much as there were abolitionists who were to the left of Lincoln. The important thing is simply to get Sanders’ enormous base to follow him out of the reactionary Democratic Party — that is to say, out of the graveyard.