Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Woman's Place is in the Revolution

This week we share two young women's stories of how they're taking an active part in Bernie 

Sanders' "Political Revolution." Their enthusiasm and energy is contagious!

Small Town Iowa Mom Volunteering for Bernie

By Emma Schmidt

I live in small town Iowa. It is a lot like you would expect it to be... Quaint, pastoral, and incredibly boring. Every election cycle, however, things amp up in excitement. Many Iowans consider our status as the first in the nation caucus to be a source of annoyance -- with political advertisements being spammed throughout every commercial break and pollsters and politicians jamming up the phone lines. However, the moment Bernie Sanders announced his campaign for presidency I knew I wanted to play a role in helping him to win the Iowa caucus.

I have been volunteering for the Bernie Sanders campaign since July. I started off by hosting a live stream party on July 29th. (You remember that, right? Where over 100,000 people turned

  out across the country?) 

I agreed to hold a party expecting it to be myself and a couple of friends I bullied into coming over. Instead, over a dozen people showed up. That's saying something coming from the area that continuously elects Steve King. We started up a grassroots team that night. 

Over the next few weeks, we walked in a couple parades for Bernie and hosted a voter registration drive. In late August, a field organizer set up shop in  the next county over. He taught me the basics of door knocking. I have no idea how many houses I have canvassed at this point, but it has been enough to automatically want to say "Hi, my name is Emma. I'm out here with the Bernie Sanders campaign," every time I knock on a door.

He also urged me to phonebank -- something I never imagined myself doing. I get nervous just ordering a pizza for delivery, so the idea of calling up strangers terrified me. Turns out it isn't so bad. I have been hosting a weekly phone bank at my house since October. We always have a few folks show up and make at least a couple hundred calls to our fellow Iowans over a three hour period.

It isn't all canvassing and phone-banking, though. We have organized a ton of brilliant events as well. We have held debate watch parties, a number of organizational meetings, a couple of screenings of Robert Reich's Inequality for All, a Bonfire for Bernie, a "Bernberry" Pie Bake Sale, and we're in the process of organizing a grassroots concert to amp people up before the caucus among other things. 

Bernie spoke at the grand opening of another field office in my area. We expected between 20 and 30 people to attend. Instead, we had around 100 people crammed in to a little room. If the people that are attending these events show up to the caucus, I firmly believe we can win this.

One of the best ways we can get people to turn out to the Iowa caucus is by using ridewithbernie.com. Originally, RideWithBernie was used to match people up to carpool to Bernie Sanders rallies. However, with Iowa caucus less than a month away, a version specifically formatted for linking drivers and passengers together to get to the caucus is being created. Bernie has consistently been able to draw enormous crowds to his rallies. He has brought out over 31,000 Iowans already.

If we continue this momentum, if we speak to our family, neighbors, and co-workers, if we make sure every supporter turns out to caucus, we can have the revolution so many of us are longing for. Like Bernie said, "On election night, if voters turnout is high, you can go to bed early. We can win."

Now is not the time to slack off. If you support Bernie, if you want to see his policy ideas go anywhere, no is the time to get to work. Talk to people about Bernie, find your caucus location, sign up for RideWithBernie, and remind folks to show up to caucus. If we can all come together, we can make a difference. Let's make Bernie's words come true.

"We have the people behind us. They have the money. And at the end of the day, the people will be stronger than the money."

Bio: Emma Schmidt says, "For Bernie I am a precinct captain, I post on Calhoun County for Bernie, Webster County for Bernie, and Iowans for Bernie, as well as help coordinate a lot of events. In my personal life, I am a 21 year old mother of a two year old, I attend Iowa State University, and I work overnights with autistic adults."

 Introduction to Bernie2016TV
By Alys Spillman

Whether you’re new to the Bernie-verse or a lifer like myself, you’ll eventually notice something unfortunate about the mainstream media’s coverage of the Sanders campaign. There is a lot of reluctance on the part of major news outlets to treat candidates fairly. This is the result of a cascade of different federal legislation that has led to our news outlets behaving like businesses, who by nature prioritize their bottom line rather than their integrity and role to provide information to the public. This has led to an understated revolution in our media, thanks to an organization called Bernie 2016 TV.

The Backstory: in 1987 the Reagan administration eliminated the Fairness Doctrine, which had previously required that "holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was—in the Commission's view—honest, equitable, and balanced.” Now, stay with me, try to stay awake. In 1996 the Clinton administration passed the Telecommunications Act, which created the media environment we now see playing out in our national presidential debates. That is, one where political events are used to generate profit rather than made easily accessible to all citizens.

Knowing none of this, last summer I found myself on the internet looking for ways to get my Bernie fix. I stumbled upon Bernie 2016 TV, a fully grassroots news network for us, the 99%. They operate via Google Hangouts, and offer what larger news networks no longer do, a platform for our voices and our issues without the priority of money or ratings influencing content. Their vision is “to engage people and move them from being passive consumers of information into being co-creators that actively expand their circles of influence, strengthening our grassroots movements.”

Savannah for Bernie has worked with Bernie 2016 TV to bring Bernie events and his message to the people. First in Charleston last summer, where we reported live after Bernie spoke, and again when Bernie visited Savannah last fall. Bernie 2016 TV is an important resource for the public in Savannah and beyond, because it’s a lot of work these days to find honest and ethically presented information in the news. This is a big next step in the evolution of our national media universe, and so, so much for the better!

To learn more about Bernie 2016 TV check out their YouTube page, and find them on every imaginable social media outlet. (You can find social media links on the Bernie2016TV page on our sidebar.) Their content ranges from Bernie rallies to meta-debate coverage and issue-focused shows such as Native Life and We The People. Bernie 2016 TV is also seeking volunteers, for both on-air hosts and behind the scenes roles. To volunteer send an email to info@bernie2016.tv.

Bio: Alys is an ex-archaeologist and equestrian professional now immersed in supporting science innovation and global humanitarian efforts as a grant writer. She comes to Savannah by way of Vermont, the United Kingdom, and South Florida.

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Are you phone-banking for Bernie? We are!

This is a group photo of our Bernie meet-up this past Saturday in Pemberville, Ohio. Bernie supporters are everywhere and we are growing in numbers every day. Check online for a Bernie event or a phone-banking session near you: http://map.berniesanders.com 

#WeAreBernie #FeeltheBern America!  (And watch this great video.)

And order your great, reasonably priced Bernie 2016 lighted sign made with love by Ben and Jerry and Volunteers:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Outside-In Thinking

This week we take a look at how Bernie Sanders' role as an "outsider" in Washington D.C. is a hidden strength that many have overlooked--especially the mainstream corporate media and establishment political party members. First up, we look at how Independent voters will play a bigger role in this election than ever before.

Can “Outside-in Thinking” Provide the 
First Back-to-Back Democratic Presidents
 Since Kennedy-Johnson?

by Hugh Campbell

Looking at polling data from the point of view of an Independent plurality  which favors Bernie Sanders by 36% over Clinton, we can see it makes Sanders a likely winner against any Republican in November. It is risky for a party that shares only 30% of the electorate to ignore the decisive role that Independents play in choosing presidents. 

 The article Who's Spoiling Now? Polling Indicates That Democrats Underrate Sanders' Electability at Their Peril warns that Democratic voters flirt with peril by using their control over primaries at the front end of a defective run-off process to deny victory in November to the nation's preferred choice, Sanders. 

To win in 2016, Democratic primary voters need to vote strategically, based upon reliable information, in favor of the alliance with Independents that Sanders offers them. 

The polls' most optimistic message can be summarized in the mathematics of the Democratic primary. With 30 percent of the electorate expected to vote 2:1 for Clinton, Democrats provide Sanders half the votes he needs to win the primary. But since he leads Clinton by 36% among Independents, who are 43% of the electorate, he can gain another 14% if his Independent supporters will only deign to contaminate themselves by participating in the primary of the Democrats they otherwise disdain. 

You'd have to go back to 1836 to find a Democrat elected to succeed a two-term president from the same party, when voters elected Martin Van Buren to follow Andrew Jackson.
Bio: Hugh Campbell is a seasoned financial professional, currently providing subject matter expertise on a variety of regulatory topics, including the Dodd-Frank Act, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and overall compliance monitoring. Hugh has previously held positions as Chief Risk Officer (CRO), Chief Audit Executive (CAE) and Director of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Compliance.
 * * *
Now we'll take a look at how Bernie sees himself as an "outsider" and what that can mean for the benefit of all Americans.

Book Review of Outsider in the White House
Outsider in the White House
By Bernie Sanders with Huck Gutman
Verso Books

They say the mark of integrity in a man is consistency. Bernie Sanders is the world's most consistent man.

It's 1996 and Bernie Sanders is running for Congress for a fifth time, but this time it's different. The Republicans are out for blood. Bernie has been making waves in Washington standing up for ordinary citizens, and the Republicans feel they must end this precedent of an Independent Congressman with progressive ideals. They throw millions of dollars at his Republican opponent Susan Sweetser. Sweetser hires a professional firm to create negative TV ads and mass mailings telling Vermonters essentially that Bernie is an evil socialist who isn't good for their state. 

All seems bleak, doesn't it? But Bernie Sanders isn't a quitter. He continues to campaign like he always has, attending parades and town hall meetings, shaking hands and listening to what the voters have to say. He'll admit that he's had some extremely close races in the past. In fact, he won his first bid to be mayor of Burlington by a whole ten votes! His first run for Congress wasn't easy, either, but hese hard-won victories have taught him a lesson: Stay the course, and keep your constituents and their concerns foremost in your mind.

Of course, Bernie regained his seat in 1996. Outspent and out-advertised, he won it handedly over Sweetser and her wealthy backers. How? Simply put, the mud Sweetser slung at Bernie didn't stick. Vermonters didn't believe a word of it and felt insulted anyone would try such a low-handed tactic. After all, they knew who the real Bernie Sanders is, a man who keeps his word and fights for what he believes in without resorting to negativity and mudslinging, always doing his best to help his fellow man. The voters were too smart to fall for the lies of an expensive, slick ad campaign based on the empty promises of the Republicans.

Outsider in the White House is a second edition of Bernie Sanders' 1997 book Outsider in the House, but its contents are more relevant than ever. The first part of this edition shows how much of a scrapper the senator from Vermont is, how tough a campaigner, no matter how great the odds or the dirty tactics his opponents use. As the only Independent in the House--and now the Senate--he's fought hard to be taken seriously by his fellow legislators and has made friends in both major parties. Neither Republican nor Democrat, Bernie has been able to use his outsider status to form alliances for the benefit of the American people, one recent noteworthy cross-aisle alliance being his work with Sen. John McCain to improve veterans' access to health care. 

The second part of the book Bernie tells us how he sees America's challenges. Remember, this book was written in 1997. You'd assume he's changed his positions somewhat, right? Wrong! Bernie Sanders is still talking about our growing income inequality between the workers and the CEOs, America's loss of jobs due to NAFTA (and now the threat of TPP), the need for universal health care, the crisis in our educational system and the necessity of protecting our environment. He even warned us in '97 about the corporate media and how a handful of billionaires can dictate information we receive as they deem fit, preventing the American electorate from becoming knowledgeable and informed voters.

On page 279 he warns us that we're in danger of becoming an oligarchy, where only the rich are represented and their wants and desires catered to at the expense of working Americans. Eighteen years later, this very nightmare has come true in the 2008 mortgage crisis and in the form of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. Why oh why didn't we listen to Bernie earlier?

A foreword by Bernie and an afterword by John Nichols bring the narrative up to the present day, detailing the excitement and enthusiasm generated by Bernie's run for the White House. Bernie's desire to help all Americans live healthy, peaceful and productive lives  explodes from the page and is contagious. You can't help but cheer "Yes! Go Bernie!" after every point he makes.

Integrity, consistency, positivity and honesty attract voters. Lucky for us, Bernie Sanders possesses these characteristics in abundance. To become a part of his "future to believe in", read Outsider in the White House and get out and vote in your state's Democratic primary in the coming weeks. You--and all of America--will be glad you did.

* * *

Finally, some comments by a supporter who's definitely on the "inside" with Bernie...

I listen to Bernie, and I love his message. He is my candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. My name is Marc, and I am from Massachusetts, and I voted for Charlie Baker.

As someone who in the past has worked on Republican political campaigns, I want to share with you my opinion. Please have Bernie focus on the senior citizen vote, the African-American voter who remembers Bill Clinton's crime bills, and immigration!

Good Luck!
And go Bernie!
Marc Wells

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Rocking the Caucus

Our two female delegates, Mary and Kay, flank "Bernie" on either side, while Alecia and I take the ends.
Rocking the Caucus

I'm not a political animal by nature. Never in a million years (not an exaggeration) would I have thought I'd "volunteer" to run as a delegate for Bernie Sanders to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this summer. But when I told another Bernie campaign organizer back in early December which district I was in, he said, "You've got to be a delegate!" 

"Okay," I thought, "If Bernie needs help to win our state and I live in a mostly rural, heart-of-Republican-country congressional district, then I'm willing to go out of my comfort zone and do it for him. It'll be a learning experience."

One thing to be said for being a Bernie supporter: You learn a lot of new things in a very short period of time.

My husband and I drove approximately 50 miles to our district caucus site at a Knights of Columbus bingo hall in Marion, Ohio and only got lost once. Yes, we had to travel that far--so did many others, if not further. Some traveled upwards of 95 to 100 miles, one way. Looking at a map of the 4th Congressional district of Ohio, the word "gerrymander" springs to mind. 
Ohio U.S. District 4

You would be shocked to see that it begins in the Northeastern quadrant of the state just outside the western suburbs of Cleveland, zigs, zags and serpentine-crawls it way through the middle of the state hitting our Northwest county of Seneca, dips southeasterly again through Marion in the central area of the state and then makes it way westerly to Lima and then dives south to Sidney, just north of Dayton. In this manner, the Republicans have been able to carve out a niche and install a Tea Party/Freedom Caucus idiot--excuse me, gentleman--named Jim Jordan as our U.S. House representative. We are predominately rural, small town and suburban, yet in one Congressional district we touch upon the outer Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus and Dayton metropolitan areas. 

Not bad. All we're missing of the top five largest cities in Ohio is Cincinnati, and I'm sure Republicans are working on a way to zigzag in some of their 'burbs. You realize they can't have us rural/small town folks hooking up with an actual big city, don't you? Oh, no! We might be influenced to vote against the G.O.P. if we ever had contact with our big city neighbors.

Dave, one of our delegates.
The well-paying union jobs in our district have long gone to Mexico with NAFTA, and the family farms have all but withered away in the agribusiness takeover explosion of the last decades. You'd be pardoned to believe the Democratic base in this gerrymandered nightmare of a district isn't perhaps the strongest. I believed it, too, until I saw the enthusiastic Bernie supporters in the K. of C. bingo hall. People in our downtrodden district really love Bernie Sanders!

As we came into the hall, the Bernie supporters didn't appear to be in majority, but I learned later that the Hillary supporters had been provided transportation to the caucus by chartered bus, courtesy of a national union whose leaders have endorsed her. Even if we were slightly outnumbered, I can say for certain we were the liveliest and most enthusiastic group there. (Martin O'Malley's campaign failed to get the prerequisite number of signatures to be qualified for the Ohio primary ballot. I wasn't sure if any of his supporters were present or if they had migrated to one corner of the room or the other.)

The "Hillary corner" of the caucus had about twenty more people than our group my husband estimated, but they didn't strike me as the happiest of souls. The word "lethargic" comes to mind. Many were well-dressed. They didn't look like they were "working class" individuals but older, retired couples who enjoy a weekly steak dinner and a drink or two at their local country club… Not exactly working farmers or blue-collar factory workers or high school science teachers or nurses or college students struggling with overwhelming loan debt.
Jamie gives delegate Mary's Bernie stand-up sign a thumbs up!
Frankly, Bernie fans are my type of people. They're animated and came dressed in their t-shirts, hats, hoodies and wearing badges and carrying signs. They can't contain their enthusiasm for Bernie and how much they admire him and his progressive agenda. If I were throwing a party, I'd invite the "Berners" any day of the week. They're fun and friendly people. In direct contradiction to the mainstream media political pundits, we had a much higher percentage of women in our group than the Hillary camp. 

By contrast, the Clintonistas acted subdued, orderly. They just didn't display much pep. We didn't see any t-shirts, hats, badges or anything else that would designate them as fans of the former secretary of state. When an elderly couple wandered in a little later in the evening and sat in the back of the room (not huddling with either group), I thought perhaps when they saw all the cars in the parking lot they thought it meant it was Bingo Night instead of the Democratic delegate caucus. Maybe they really were a part of the Hillary caucus? Their subduedness and apartness fit in with that group's vibe.

To the detriment of all, the bingo hall had terrible acoustics. At half-basketball-court size, it wasn't big enough for the approximately 80 people present. Delegates were given 60 seconds to give their "stump speech" to persuade people to vote for them. Of course, the Clintonistas were doing likewise just a few feet from our tables… Bedlam! Neither side had a mircophone or a megaphone. Talk about challenging for the hard of hearing. I really had to concentrate to hear any of the speeches. 

When I caught one of the Hillary supporters behind us bellowing "I'm a FDR Democrat!" I just had to wonder why this older gentleman was sitting in the other corner of the room. Hadn't he heard Bernie's latest speech on Wall Street? It would have made FDR proud. Of course, an elderly voter probably doesn't watch You Tube or get online very often. More than likely, he watches the local news or gets his political fix from CNN or Fox. Another on-the-fence older couple I talked to earlier in the evening stated, "We love Bernie, but he's not going to win the primary." When I asked them if they'd watched any of his speeches or rallies online and did they know anything about the large number of people attending his events and how inaccurate the mainstream media polling data was, they looked at me with quizzical yet hopeful eyes. I'm happy to say they ended up caucusing with the Bernie group.

Our district gets to select four delegates per candidate--two male and two female--to be sent to the national convention. And what a long slate of names we had! We had eight women and at least six men to choose from--all very intelligent and enthusiastic candidates. It was a tough choice.

How did I do? Since I couldn't hear the first two ladies at all in the noisy hall when my time came to speak, I did like all mothers and schoolteachers everywhere do to get attention: I stood on my chair and projected loudly to our group. I got a nice round of applause, too.

Unfortunately, I came in third place in the female delegate election. I lost by one measly vote. Oh, well. At least I don't have to come up with the two or three thousand dollars to cover the costs of the hotel and travel to the convention in Philadelphia. (Whew!) I can cover the convention online and write about since I know four people from my area who can give me their insights. Odds are, not all four of our delegates will be able to attend, but you never know. Bernie could get 75% or more of the primary vote in Ohio. (Fingers crossed!)

We drove home after the caucus tired but energized. Later I learned that as the Hillary charter bus pulled out, they all "honked and waved" at a Bernie Light Brigade LED sign one our group was demonstrating in the parking lot. It seems everyone in the 4th Ohio Congressional district loves Bernie.

 *  *  *

Are you attending a debate watch party on January 17? Are you planning a Bernie meet-up for the live stream event from the man himself on January 23? Go to the national events page and type in your zip code to find an event nearest you. Better yet, sign up to host one yourself and invite all your friends, family members and fellow Berners.  #FeeltheBern and spread the word--Bernie's our next president!

Bernie's Light Brigade is planning another light up the night for Bernie, January 16. Find out how you can help out at the Reddit link and join in the fun.
The Rockland County BLB mix and matches signs to advertise Bernie.