Presidential Campaign

Bernie Sanders can still change America

Greg Nash

The Democratic primaries are over. By all accounts, the meeting between presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) went well. The great Democratic convergence and unity is well underway with President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) all endorsing Clinton with enthusiasm.

{mosads}On Thursday evening, Sanders will address the nation, and above all, his supporters, in remarks over the internet that will be heard across the nation and indeed around the world by many Sanders fans in many nations.

As I have written for much of the last year, the movement that has driven the Sanders campaign has potential to leave a continuing and lasting legacy that will change the Democratic Party and American politics.

Sanders and his supporters have already revolutionized campaign finance by demonstrating that an army of small donors acting for a great cause can rewrite the rules of raising money for political campaigns. Yes, indeed, it can be done without super-PACs that are fueled by mega-donors and corporate money. It can be done with the people acting in concert for things they (we) believe in.

Sanders and his supporters have mobilized an army of volunteers and workers who have injected enormous vitality and inspiration into the Democratic Party.

What is most important, as Sanders prepares for his major remarks on Thursday, is that this potentially historic movement be kept alive and grow even larger and become a powerful and permanent progressive movement lifted to new heights of achievement for the cause.

I would reiterate my hope, expressed in columns in The Hill, that Sanders will announce what I call a People’s PAC that would begin immediately and raise enormous money from small donors to elect progressives to the House and Senate and to lift the Democratic chances of regaining control of both Houses of Congress.

I would add the hope that the many devoted and faithful workers who have supported his presidential candidacy remain in the system, in full force, volunteering with Sanders’s leadership for progressive candidates in federal, state and local elections.

Yes, I do hope that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz (Fla.), is replaced by a new chair who will operate in the style of Gov. Howard Dean (Vt.) when he was leading the DNC. But I would add that who chairs the DNC is not even remotely the most important matter going forward compared to electing progressives to office and bringing progressive volunteers, workers and small donors into the party to exercise the real and lasting influence that progressives can employ at every level of politics.

And yes, I do hope and expect that the Democratic platform will make a clear and compelling statement about the progressive vision and agenda of the party. There will be compromises between Clinton and Sanders. But let’s be clear: How many times in history have convention platforms had lasting impact that defined the future of American politics?

What matters the most, what bends the arc of history, and what can lift the morality and vision of our politics is if Sanders makes his huge and exciting movement a powerful player in national politics today, tomorrow and for years to come.

Yes, indeed I hope that Sanders, in his remarks on Thursday, will unequivocally endorse Clinton and say how important it is that she be elected over presumptive GOP nomine Donald Trump and the dark side of politics that Trump represents. And it is vitally important to those of us who want a progressive agenda for the Democratic Party and the nation to go all-out to elect liberals to the House and Senate and assure a liberal Supreme Court majority that could last for a generation.

The Democratic Party owes a debt of gratitude to Sanders and his legions of supporters for everything that they have accomplished in his campaign and everything they can accomplish to lift the progressive cause and the politics of the nation going forward.

In the epic battle for the future of America that is now unfolding, Sen. Bernie Sanders, his supporters and small donors, and the values of progressive politics, can be a game-changing agent of historic progressive change from now until Election Day, and for many Election Days in the future.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at

Tags 2016 Democratic primary 2016 presidential campaign 2016 presidential election Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Hillary Clinton Joe Biden liberal movement people's PAC progressive small donors
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