Senator Bernie Sanders recently did an inspiring interview in Boston. The interviewer was Archon Fung, incidentally a former University of Wisconsin employee.

You can listen to the interview or read a transcript of it here: http://bostonreview.net/politics-podcast/boston-review-despair-not-option

As a highlight, here is an excerpt of Sanders’ response to the opening question:

Every community is different. Everybody is different. Somebody is interested in environmental issues, somebody is interested in racial justice issues, somebody is interested in the trade union movement or economic issues. So everybody’s going to do something a little bit different. But here’s the bottom line: the people on top get away with their absurd policies because they assume that people don’t know what’s going on—the media won’t report it—or that people have given up to such a degree that they’re not capable of fighting back, or that they could always raise enough money in a campaign to run lying, thirty-second ads and they’ll win anyhow. …

Our job, ultimately, is to be involved in the political process in every way possible. That means, do not turn your back on the local school board—that is a very, very important institution, especially if we want to strengthen public education in America. And there’s city councils and state legislatures. But it is not only getting involved in electoral progress. We win victories when people stand up and fight back on environmental issues. New York State banned fracking. It wasn’t because the governor there woke up one day and decided to do it. It’s because hundreds of thousands of people suggested to him that it would be a very good idea for him to do it. Minimum wage all over this country—it’s an extraordinary success story. If somebody in this room, five years ago, said, “You know Bernie, minimum wage in Washington now is $7.25 an hour. Why don’t you raise it to $15 an hour?” Anybody said that five years ago, person next to you would have thought you were crazy. “$15 an hour from $7.25? You are nuts.” But you know what happened? You had very brave people, workers in the fast food industry—and I have been honored to march with them—who stood up and said, “We can’t make it. We can’t make it on nine or ten bucks an hour.” And lo and behold, Seattle, Washington, fifteen bucks an hour. San Francisco, California, New York State—it spreads and it is spreading like wildfire. That is what happens when the grassroots starts moving.

-Matthew Kearney

 

  1. David Newby says:

    Bernie nails it in the post above.

    But above all he gets it that this has to start from local action. Our Wisconsin Revolution is an umbrella organization that can provide some resources (and once we have the financial support from dues and donations, some staff assistance!). But the initiative has to come from the grassroots.

    So everyone who reads this has to identify the problems and issues in their community and start to organize to make a difference. Form a chapter (the national Our Revolution requires 10 members to form a chapter!) and target one office at a time: town council, city council, school board, county board, whatever it may be. One office, one victory, and you are a force in your local area. Then build on that. It can be like a rolling snowball.

    So do it! But also keep in touch, ask for contacts, network with other local groups, and help us grow a real movement for democracy, social and economic justice!

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