When I was on Bernie’s first campaign for president in 2016, the rush of support was incredible. He was raising hundreds of millions of dollars, filling stadiums everywhere, and polling best against Trump (as I often reminded the superdelegates). Bernie did not lose because he lacked support from the people. He lost because the Democratic Party rigged its primary to guarantee that an establishment candidate would win.
That’s why, when I was asked to join his campaign for president again this December, I said that I was exactly where I wanted to be in the Movement for a People’s Party. I explained to the staffers who were officially preparing his run that what this country really needs is a people’s party. I told them that tens of thousands of us in MPP and the majority of Americans now want a major new party.
Bernie Sanders would make a transformative president. He could even win if he ran as an independent. But over the past three years, the Democratic Party has expanded its control over its presidential primary to ensure that a neoliberal wins again.
Even the best chess player in the world can’t win a rigged game.
The primary rules have determined the result a year before the first vote is cast, leaving just a veneer of democracy to keep us hoping that this time might be different. Furthermore, as a private corporation with no accountability to its members or voters, the Democratic Party has the power to change the primary rules and violate them at will.
Amazingly, the DNC itself admitted this in open court testimony in 2017, when sued for defrauding millions of Bernie supporters during his first presidential run. Instead of accepting responsibility, the Party said it has the right to rig its primaries and pre-select the candidates in 2020 and beyond.
In the Democratic primary, the Party establishment is simultaneously the game maker, the opposing chess player, the referee, and the one who can change the rules mid-game. In those kinds of conditions, the game is just for show.
In fact, if this was not true, the Democratic Party would be of no use to the banks and corporations that invest billions into it for the very purpose of maintaining the status quo. Nor would it be of any use to the nearly 100 lobbyists who run the Party directly from the National Committee.
Corporate contributions are not charity.
The stakes for working people and the planet are far too high to entrust change to political parties run by corporations. Bernie himself taught us that there is no such thing as a people’s party that is bankrolled by Wall Street.
We cannot do the same thing time after time and expect different results. We need solutions that are proportionate to the scale of the problems that we face. The majority of Americans want a major new party because that is what it will take to achieve real change.
With a party that fights alongside our movements rather than against them, we can complete the political revolution. In the midst of endless election cycles, we must find the clarity and the courage to build a permanent solution.
I gave the Democratic Party nearly 10 years of my life, most of it working for establishment Democrats like John Kerry and Terry McAuliffe. I can never get those years back. But I can devote myself to building a party that speaks for the single mother with three jobs, the family facing cancer with no health care, the retired couple who trades meals for medication, the vet who left his innocence in Iraq, the homeless woman who did everything right, the young man who lost his future to a drug sentence, the boy who fled violence in his country, and the young woman who watches her student debt climb higher no matter how hard she works.
That’s who I work for today.
And that’s who I will work for as long as you are by my side.
Founder and National Director
Movement for a People’s Party