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Political Revolutionists: Does an Inside-Outside Strategy Have a Chance?


Political Revolutionists: Does an Inside-Outside Strategy Have a Chance?

Donna Smith

As the presidential candidates for 2016 go kicking and sliding toward the final primaries -- and most especially into California, an increasing number of pundits with a knack for the writing and rewriting of history will offer their best guesses about Bernie’s next steps. Many groups with thousands of Bernie volunteers will feel the pressure from those Bernie loyalists to never give up or give in. And many thousands more are also clamoring now about how they might be able to influence those next steps.


Great work you all are doing, I get your emails. You are absolutely correct in asking people to support Bernie to the end. If he doesn't win he will still be in the Senate and a good man in the Senate can be a leader of this movement. I firmly believe your group and many others should join hands and come together when needed to be millions of more voices in this revolution. I have always felt that if these progressive groups co-ordinate they don't have to give up their name or work, just come together when the time comes to rise up.
Occupy, Black Lives Matter, all of them have their own issues but on many issues their purpose is the same. That's when we can quadruple the amount of pressure needed to push the government left. Independently these groups like yours stay too small and not quite powerful enough, but together we will be unbeatable. There's more of us than them.
Bernie has reached more people than any one group could have done and he opened the door to millions that had not heard about these groups. Now they will now, we can be a force for change.


You're the best, Donna. Keep up the good work.


I admire Donna Smith tremendously and have read her articles and held great sympathy for her personal issues for many years. I won't be in Chicago in June for several reasons, one of which is I am out of the country and can't afford the time off or the ticket to get there. More than that is my past experiences at conventions of various sorts. I don't like them. Lots of activists show up with their various agendas and in the end it seems to result in nothing very notable. That doesn't mean this convention, or what ever they are calling it, has to end up that way but my reaction is negative. I will hope for the best and that means, at minimum, a real action plan that will connect with real people and prioritize their real needs while at the same time making the connections between their issues and the ruling elites and the deadly system in which we are forced to live at present.


I agree.
What is needed is an interactive website that is a permanent convention. But only one, for all folks that are to the left of center.


Smith concludes the piece with: "The people are speaking. And we aim to be heard. Join us at the People’s Summit."

If the aim is simply to be heard, I don't think the aim is bold enough. What is needed is (1) not simply to be heard, but to actually be listened to and responded to, and (2) not just for people to speak but to collectively act.

Sanders talks about a "political revolution," which to me focuses on goals of transforming the system of governance and decision-making. Lofty goals, no doubt and they make sense for his campaign (remember just one part of a larger movement). But what I am afraid of (and often observe in comments posted by concerning people on sites like CD) is that to them this means simply supporting a candidate and voting and then going back about their business. Also, there is a focus on the national level (mostly the Presidency). The real changes are happening at state and local levels and if you want to have a political revolution, those places are where it will it happen. Repubs have found that out and while they may seem in disarray when it comes to the Presidential election, look at what has happened at the state level since 2010. And in a state like the one I live in, the state legislature holds the power over local municipalities.

One last thing, instead of thinking about only a political revolution, this ultimately cannot be decoupled from a social and economic revolution. With this in mind, people can be highly effective by their involvement in local decision-making and by the actions they take in their every day lives e.g., their economic choices, how they treat one another, etc.). Support local businesses that keep money circulating within the community, get out of a big bank and join a credit union, support cooperative development, join planning boards and task forces. These are the kind of things that are going to drive a revolution and transformation by pushing change from the bottom up as well as being personally very satisfying - they are well worth the time.


I am sympathetic to what you are saying about holding these national events and only those with $$ can attend. I like the idea of de-centralized events, since change is most impacted and felt by those organizing at a local level. However, there also needs to be linking mechanisms e.g., online) that some group needs to organize. There are lots of efforts to try to do this but things are really atomized.

I don't see Bernie running as an independent should he not win the Dem nomination. I hope though that he will continue to help galvanize a Movement and that he will not simply endorse Clinton should she win but push for the transformative change necessary in these times (and not endorse her if she is unwilling to see the revolution coming).


Thank you for the event! I will be going.

  1. Can Common Dreams have a table or visibility or something? (I'd be happy to volunteer)

  2. Please don't discourage these types of events. If you've never been to one, try it out first. Even if you don't join a specific group, you will get invaluable exposure to the process, that you can then use when creating your own event. Please be careful of criticism, as you are inadvertently discouraging others from experiencing things like this for the first time.


The Democratic party is corrupt and beyond redemption. It cannot be fixed from within. Nader is exactly right. At the convention they will deny Bernie's policy requests the same way they will deny him the nomination. There is no chance superdelegates switch over. Too much money is on the line in a rigged system they control. Bernie should use the party just like they used him and then discard it just as they would discard him at the convention. Stay in the race until the DC primary so he can achieve maximum exposure. Then the morning of June 15th he should announce that he is leaving the Democratic party for the Greens. Going to the convention would be a strategic blunder. The trap has already been set. The opportunity to create a viable third party is now. He can turn the tables on the DNC. Bernie has millions of supporters loyal to him and his policy platform with little to no allegiance to the Democratic party. They will come along. In the meantime the Sanders campaign should backchannel with the Green Party to make sure they are on every state ballot. He can start a real fifty state campaign for the general election the same day he announces the switch. States not normally in play for Democrats will be fair game given the high negatives of the two other candidates. The announcement will also reinvigorate Sanders supporters and donations will come flooding back in. At the same time the air will be sucked right out of the Democratic National Convention. With no suspense and controversy and without Bernie's attendance it will be dead on arrival. Sanders can go back on the offensive and will immediately be the favorite to win the presidency. There really is nothing to lose with this plan. If he stays in the democratic party and goes to the convention it will just be a soul sucking march to defeat. His Kobayashi Maru. She has the nuts and he knows it. All options would be untenable. Integrity lost. Revolution over. Thankfully this need not come to pass. The viability and legitimacy issues will be moot thanks to the primary campaign. Name recognition... forget about it. Together we will break through the entrenched corruption of the two party duopoly and win the presidency for all of us. There is no other way.