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Wed Dec 5, 2012, 11:09 AM

Secret of Bernie Sanders's Success

from John Nichols at The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/blog/171599/secret-bernie-sanderss-success


. . . what is the Sanders secret?

How does an independent senator, who refuses to accept the false constructs of the Republican right and its media echo chamber, who calls out compromising Democrats, and who rejects the centrist fantasies of so many pundits, keep winning elections by overwhelming margins? And what can progressives learn from his political success—and aggressive progressivism—as they engage in the fiscal-cliff fight, prepare for the coming Congress and set the stage for the elections of 2014 and 2016?

To begin with, Sanders does not accept conventional wisdom, and he does not play by conventional political rules.

. . . Despite breaking all "the rules, Sanders, who was honored Monday night by The Nation Institute, won—big. The senator took 71 percent of the vote versus just 25 percent for his closest rival, Republican John MacGovern, a businessman and four-term Massachusetts state legislator who promised to replace “the only admitted socialist in the US Senate.” Sanders won among women and men, across income and education categories, and in every region—even carrying the corners of the state that backed Romney. “I go crazy with all these Democrats saying you have to go conservative to win, you have to go cautious to win. These damned consultants come in and say, ‘This is how you have to run,’ and it’s always the same: raise money, spend it on television, don’t say anything that will offend anyone. And the Democrats do it and then they end up in tight races, worried about whether they’ll make it,” says Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats but rarely takes advice from anyone in Washington. “For the life of me, I can’t figure out why progressives listen to consultants. Building movements, making progress on progressive issues— you have to talk to people, educate people, organize people.”





So Sanders took the money he raised for his re-election campaign and put it into an energetic door-knocking project that began long before other candidates were running TV ads. The point wasn’t to build name recognition; through forty years of losing and then winning elections, Sanders has been to virtually every town in the state. At the roughly 20,000 doors knocked on by the legions of Sanders volunteers during this campaign, the “ask” was for a lot more than votes. Vermonters were urged to come out and spend a few hours—yes, a few hours—with Sanders at their town halls. “We’ve organized meetings in towns of 300, and more than 100 people show up. They stay into the evening, talking about saving post offices and getting people dental care and bringing troops home from Afghanistan.”

Sanders bristles when pundits who don’t know Vermont dismiss his approach to campaigning as a regional deviation that might work in what is often portrayed as a quirky liberal state that couldn’t possibly have relevance for the rest of the country. “It wasn’t that long ago that Vermont was one of the most Republican states in the country. Until two years ago, the governor was a Republican; the lieutenant governor is a Republican. This is a significantly rural state. This is a state with some very conservative regions.” Yet, Sanders won by wide margins even in areas where Democrats run poorly. Why? Because the senator does not waste money on TV commercials designed to scare or fool voters into backing him. Rather, he goes where voters live. Personal Democracy Media co-founder and editorial director Micah Sifry, who has followed Sanders and Vermont politics for years, recalls: “Visiting hunting lodges to talk about protecting natural resources for hunting and fishing and establishing a connection with hunters was one of the ways that Sanders managed to earn the trust of the predominantly conservative and working-class Northeast Kingdom section of Vermont, which regularly gives Sanders, a self-declared socialist, its hearty support.”

If national Democrats did the same, Sanders suggests, there could be many more progressive Democrats representing rural states . . .


read more: http://www.thenation.com/blog/171599/secret-bernie-sanderss-success


6 replies, 725 views

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Reply Secret of Bernie Sanders's Success (Original post)
bigtree Dec 2012 OP
bullwinkle428 Dec 2012 #1
Egalitarian Thug Dec 2012 #2
1StrongBlackMan Dec 2012 #3
OutNow Dec 2012 #4
LineLineLineNew Reply .
bigtree Dec 2012 #6
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bigtree Dec 2012 #5

Response to bigtree (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 11:13 AM

1. K&R. America could be an incredible place if more in Congress were like Bernie!

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 11:16 AM

2. Duplicate K&R.

 

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 11:23 AM

3. It also helps ...

when you're running in a largely non-competitive races.

Just saying ... It's pretty easy to say what you think when the vast majority of those you're talking to agree with, or at least lean towards, you.

While I agree with just about all of Sanders' policy positions, I wonder how successful he would be, or if his rhetoric/approach would change, if he were running in/representing Nebraska or Texas or, even the trending purplish, Arizona?

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Response to 1StrongBlackMan (Reply #3)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 03:30 PM

4. Bernie didn't just pop up one day in the Senate

Bernie Sanders has worked for progressive ideas for most of his life. He was mayor of Burlington and ran against determined Dems and Repubs. When he ran for Congress he developed a national following of small donors, including me. I had a Bernie Sanders for Congress bumper sticker on my car in Texas for several years. It is only lately that the Democrats decided they can't beat Bernie in Vermont so they quit trying.

So how would that work in Texas (as you proposed)? I think Lloyd Doggett is the best example of how progressives can win. He was the target of of a right wing redistricting scheme funding by Tom Delay. His Austin district was carved up and Doggett was pushed into a South Texas area in the hope (by Republicans) that we would lose a primary election to a Hispanic. Instead of giving up, Lloyd learned Spanish, sought and received support from all over the state based on his decades long reputation as a progressive fighter, and won the primary and the general election. While Tom Delay is finally on his way to jail (I hope), Doggett is still a member of the House of Representatives.

President Bush was very popular in Texas. In the run-up to the Iraq war most Texas Dems were either supportive of the "war on terror" or quiet as a mouse. Lloyd Doggett, much like Barack Obama, came out against the Iraq war and spoke at the large antiwar rally in Austin. I know that behind the scenes many prominent Dems were advising him to shut up and concentrate on constituent services. He ignored their advice and took a principled stance.

That's the way a progressive can win. In Vermont and in Texas.

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Response to OutNow (Reply #4)

Thu Dec 6, 2012, 06:31 AM

6. .

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 11:43 PM

5. .

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