I went to one of a couple thousand meetings around the country last night to watch Bernie Sanders speak at the kick-off of the My Revolution project. He mostly gave his standard stump speech, highlighting his main platform issues and the fact that many formerly fringe positions had now become part of the mainstream political conversation. He is right in that regard, and I hold him in high esteem for that reason. The rest of the program left me conflicted.
On the eve of the My Revolution initiation, most of the staff resigned in protest over the appointment of Bernie's former campaign manager to head the effort and the policies he advocates. At issue is the fact that the My Revolution project has been incorporated as a non-profit 501c(4), meaning that the organization can and likely will accept donations from big-money donors. My initial reaction to the resignations was negative; it seemed like self-indulgence at a critical moment in the political process. The statements by the leadership after Bernie's speech, however, made me think again about the situation.
Perhaps predictably, there was no mention of the resignation controversy in the statements by the current leaders. They talked about the need to support progressive candidates nation-wide and said they would be putting together a list of those deserving financial support. They said they would encourage suggestions as to whom is worthy of such support. What was not mentioned was any reference to the possibility of building State and local organizations aiming at a bottom-up direction of the My Revolution effort.
It is possible that some of the confusion and controversy will be sorted out in the Bernie-inspired campaign between now and election day. There seems to be very wide agreement and support of the progressive agenda. However, as was evident in the meeting I attended, there is also great divergence of opinion on strategy and tactics. Right now, to me, My Revolution does not look very revolutionary. It looks a lot more like a Super-PAC.