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Progressives Nationwide Seek to Take Bernie Sanders’ ‘Political Revolution’ Into Congress

Posted on Feb 4, 2016

    Zephyr Teachout speaks to supporters during her 2014 New York gubernatorial run. (Hans Pennink / AP)

Bernie Sanders’ call for a “political revolution” is inspiring progressives to mount bids for Congress nationwide. Together, they may be able to wrest control of the U.S. government from Wall Street, big oil and the military-industrial complex.

In late January, Truthdig reported on law professor Tim Canova’s bid to unseat Debbie Wasserman Schultz from her post in Florida. Add to his effort that of Zephyr Teachout in New York, John Fetterman in Pennsylvania and Lucy Flores in Nevada.

“Bernie Sanders’s political revolution is predicated in part on mobilizing the public to change the direction of the country,” writes David Dayen at The New Republic. “Naysayers carp, and not without reason, that this is impossible, with Republicans having a lock on the gerrymandered Congress for the near future. But to change that state of affairs, you need Sanders Democrats—progressive leaders willing to compete for marginal seats and battle from inside the Capitol Building”:

The army is out there. [...] They may not all win­—some might not even represent the Democrats in the general election—but they exemplify a new energy in the party, expressing pride in liberal ideas instead of fleeing from them, ready to work the levers of the system to achieve progress wherever possible. The greatest gift Sanders—the longtime independent—has given to the Democratic Party is to inspire a progressive revolution from within. […]

Teachout believes she can connect workers, small businesses, and small farmers (who have experienced a collapse in this part of New York) to build a coalition that fights for more decentralized power by reviving antitrust policy, restricting high-risk trading by deposit-taking banks, and enacting public financing of elections. And Sanders’s focus on big ideas, giving voice to longstanding frustrations with the current system, makes it easier for Teachout’s platform to resonate. “People understand Washington is pretty broken, and they are well aware of the challenges facing a congressperson,” she says, suggesting that supporters will give her plenty of slack if she’s elected. But Teachout believes she can use a congressional seat as an organizing tool to give voice to real concerns in the country. The key, she says, lies in preparing a suite of ideas in advance, and making the most of legislative opportunities.

“What I saw in the wake of the crash, Elizabeth Warren has this (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) proposal ready, but on the whole, an incredible opportunity to do something big was wasted,” Teachout says. “You’re not going to win any fights you’re not in. Democrats and Republicans haven’t been in the populist fight.” […]

While Fetterman has been preaching this gospel for years, Sanders’s platform gives it high-profile validation. Fetterman says he endorsed Sanders for president because he represents “the best of where the Democratic Party is and what we should aspire to,” despite being an independent. Fetterman recoils from candidates who run away from the party’s principles. “If you’re going to go down, go down with your boots on,” he says. “Let’s get out there and move the needle instead of letting the needle move us.” […]

Flores wants to express her—and Sanders’s—vision of the future through something more visceral than a policy document. She believes voters respond to a defiant stand on principle for a bold agenda. “How many times was I told that I couldn’t make it?” Flores says. “I say look what I was able to overcome, let’s have the courage to move forward with a bold platform.”

Continue reading here.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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