Bernie Sanders says he’s going to focus on state and local offices during the next election cycle, hoping to build a progressive movement from the ground up.
The Vermont senator plans on focusing his efforts on school boards, city councils, and statehouses — instead of Congressional races — with the goal of lending support to the next generation of activist progressive candidates in the years ahead.
“I look at politics a little bit differently than some of my colleagues in the sense that I believe that we need to build a national grassroots movement,” Mr Sanders told Reuters Tuesday. “So I think my emphasis is going to be more on grassroots politics.”
Mr Sanders sprung to political prominence last year during the Democratic primaries when he mounted a surprisingly competitive campaign against Hillary Clinton. His campaign boasted of small-dollar donations from a grassroots network of organizers — many of whom were intensely loyal to Mr Sanders and his causes.
In that race, Mr Sanders ultimately won 43 per cent of the Democratic primary vote, calling for an end to big money in politics, vowing to fight for universal healthcare, and saying he would usher in free college tuition rates.
Mr Sanders’ decision to focus his efforts at the local and state level comes as Democrats argue over how to proceed after Ms Clinton’s surprise loss to Donald Trump last November. He says that the ideas he espoused on the 2016 campaign trail are the winning set of ideas for liberals in America to turn to to attract the kind of electoral success necessary for his vision of a future America.
Since the election, Mr Sanders has travelled repeatedly to support candidates all over the country as a part of his Our Revolution organization, which which was started by a group of former Sanders 2016 staffers and volunteers.
“If you look at cities and town and school boards, what you see all over the country is that we are in fact making progress,” Mr Sanders said.
Many Democrats have shifted left toward Mr Sanders’ policy ideas since the 2016 election, and my potential 2020 prospects support his Medicare-for-all healthcare plans.
The party is currently in the minority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. They face a steep path forward to reclaiming either in the 2018 election, given the margins and the particular makeup of the races in the 2018 midterms.