In his May 10 victory speech, Bernie Sanders argued, “Our vision is the future of the Democratic Party.” If he and his supporters play their cards wisely, he’s right. Given the support people under 45 have provided his campaign, they can soon be leading the Democratic Party.
Even if Hillary is President for the next eight years, who is President is less important than whether or not we have a strong grassroots force that can pressure Washington effectively.
Bernie’s implied commitment to the Democratic Party is encouraging. Hopefully most of his supporters will make the same commitment and work to steadily improve the Party.
Rank-and-file Democrats elect local Party leaders, who elect state leaders, who elect national leaders. If candidates for those offices run on a pro-democracy platform, they can restructure the Party and make it more democratic.
Bernie’s people can push that reform platform at this year’s national convention, and then use it to elect reform-minded Democrats to local Party leadership in future elections. With patience, persistence, and neighbor-to-neighbor organizing, they can transform the Democratic Party into a potent activist organization.
To do so, however, many of his supporters will need to set aside their disappointment, anger, and despair. They will need to avoid insisting on winning every battle and accept temporary defeat in order to carry on long-term. They will need to demonstrate loyalty to the Party. They will need to better practice nonviolent communication and compassionate listening. More so than they have thus far, they will need to avoid ad hominem arguments, acknowledge their own mistakes, and be willing to criticize their own colleagues when they make mistakes.
Otherwise, they could tear the Party apart, blow this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and help Donald Trump get elected.