How Sanders could land the plane
I saw a path forward for Bernie Sanders this morning if he does not get the nomination that not only excited me, but that made sense. Hear me out:
As many have already suggested, Sanders should stay in the campaign until all states have voted, and go to the convention with plenty of political currency to make a deal that will advance his progressive agenda and his political revolution if he does not earn the nomination.
Now let’s shift gears and think long term about how to advance said revolution. I am not so interested in the Democratic platform, or featured speaking slots at the convention. I am interested in power.
Sanders would return to the Senate with two years left in his current term. He has earned substantial seniority and has already chaired several powerful committees, but a lot has changed: He has shifted his party affiliation to the Democrats, he has an enormous national following of ardent supporters and contributors, and he put his progressive agenda in the national spotlight.
If the Democrats reclaim the Senate in November—but even more importantly if he helps them do this—he exponentially strengthens his influence for the revolutionary change he seeks. He builds relationships and earns support from Senate candidates, he demonstrates his commitment to his new party and his understanding of how the game he has devoted his life to is played. (It’s called “governing.”) The mutual self-interest is robust.
What if Sanders pivots now and begins to gently and gracefully, wisely and deftly, recalibrate his flock to invest their considerable energy down ticket to the Golden Chalice of the Senate, not just in their own states but nationally? Their primary loyalty remains with him, they use their current energy and organization to advance his/their agenda, they would likely see immediate pay-off for their efforts (reclaiming the Senate with a newly-empowered Sanders) and they continue supporting their champion who now becomes …
…the new Lion of the Senate, a role painfully vacant since the death of Ted Kennedy. He transformed his own failure to become the Democratic presidential nominee into a career of advancing the progressive agenda with substantial and transformative legislation.
Is this what Destiny had in mind for Sanders all along?
Turn the Senate into an engine for the political revolution, now.
Adopting this strategy will require a couple of critical and paradigmatic shifts, not least of which is Sanders and his campaign staff being able to conduct a massive civics lesson for the youngest of his supporters, now suffering from crushed hopes and wounded idealism (something the Clinton camp knows more than a little about).
Can Sanders teach them what he has learned from a lifetime of hope and idealism, often crushed, about avoiding the temptations of cynicism and bitterness that serve only the oppressive system? Can he educate and train them as community organizers and critical thinkers who know that incremental reform is always worth achieving if it is in service of revolutionary goals?
Sanders has never had a comparable opportunity for visionary leadership on this scale, to bring about the political revolution he seeks/sells.
Don’t throw away your shot, Senator. We need you.