Although many Bernie Sanders supporters were understandably dismayed by his endorsement of political rival Hillary Clinton, it's important to remember what he has been saying all along: this political revolution is not about him, or any one candidate for that matter, it is about us.
Bernie has shown us the way forward and it is up to us to continue the progressive fight he started. Fortunately, there are grassroots organizations already taking up Bernie's banner, ready to lead us down the path he's paved. Perhaps the most promising of these is the Progressive Independent Party.
Founded this past March by progressive activist, Araquel Bloss, the Progressive Independent Party (PIP) is already picking up steam. Like Bernie at the beginning of his campaign, PIP has been striving to gain name recognition in a field crowded with progressive factions. Many people are already familiar with the Green Party, the Justice Party, and others, but it is the scale of PIP's vision which sets them apart from all the rest. The Progressive Independent Party is not just another faction, it is the means by which we unite the factions to form the largest progressive coalition in our country's history.
Progressive unification is the focus of PIP, not partisanship. Their mission clearly states,
"The Progressive Independent Party is an evolutionary necessity given the corrupt political system we as Americans have been mired in for generations. We recognize that a fundamental shift in the way we approach our governance will not be a stroll through the park on a pleasant evening. For this reason we are calling upon Americans of every political stripe to join us in a unified voice. We will no longer tolerate or accept those conditions upon which the notion has been sold to us that what we have come to accept is simply 'the way things are'. Our first and most challenging step is to find common ground amongst many splintered factions of the left and independents."
This would seem like a daunting, near impossible task if we hadn't just witnessed it happen this past year behind a 74-year old Democratic Socialist from Vermont. His ideals, his policy agenda and his message spoke directly to the deep yearning for change in the hearts of millions of progressives, regardless of political affiliation.
We all want a government which represents all of us, not just corporations and the wealthy few. We all want a responsive government, a just government, a government that is accountable to the will of its people. We realize, in a vibrant, thriving society we must take care of our most vulnerable citizens and give our young people the tools they need to succeed. This requires the recognition that health care and education are essential human rights, not privileges. We all acknowledge the scientific fact of human caused climate change and the moral imperative we have to take bold actions to reverse it. We've all been awoken to the horrific violence being perpetrated daily against marginalized groups and communities of color by a broken law enforcement and criminal justice system. We all recognize that a foreign policy of regime change is decimating our economy, our national security, and our global standing amongst allied nations. We all understand in order for our economy to prosper our citizens must be able to purchase goods and services, stressing the need not just for a higher minimum wage, but a "living wage" indexed to inflation. These are but a few issues Bernie has championed and upon which Bernie's political revolutionaries can no doubt find common ground.
The popularity of these ideas should not come as a surprise but a welcome relief and validation to progressives who believe our government has lost its way. These ideas are not necessarily new and certainly not Bernie's alone. Many of them were contained in Franklin Delano Roosevelt's proposed "Second Bill of Rights" in 1944. Bernie simply brought them back into the public spotlight and made us remember what a grand progressive tradition the United States already has. Bernie's platform is truly that of a 21st century FDR.
That platform is now being picked up by the Progressive Independent Party, and their popularity is growing because of it. PIP has currently garnered over 40,000 followers, 15,000 signatures and a quarter-million combined social media reach weekly! Those are astonishing numbers for a grassroots party founded only four months ago without large donor funding or any mainstream media presence. Over 1,500 volunteers have already signed up all across the nation to help further PIP's unifying cause. Large, grassroots organizations have also signed on to support PIP, including Demand Universal Health Care, Black Lives Matter, and the Justice Party with others expected to join following the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia July 25th-28th.
PIP's purpose is to build upon the movement Bernie started, uniting the progressive factions to create a truly competitive and viable third party for many elections to come. On July 24th, the day before the convention begins, PIP is coordinating rallies in Salt Lake City, Utah and Albany, New York to raise support and awareness of the party's objectives. In addition to having a visible presence during the convention, they will compile a PIP endorsement list of candidates running for office this November. This list, curated by a dedicated team of PIP volunteers, will include good, progressive candidates regardless of political affiliation, further demonstrating the organization's willingness to unite beyond partisanship. By 2018, they plan to have PIP candidates on the ballot for national office as well as a viable presidential candidate in 2020. This is precisely the type of grassroots organizing Bernie Sanders was calling for when he told us to stand and fight against the corrupting moneyed interests that dominate politics.
Although Bernie has not conceded and will certainly make his case for the Democratic nomination on the floor of the convention with nearly 1,900 delegates behind him, he may, in the end, be hamstrung by the rules of the party into backing Hillary Clinton's bid. I don't begrudge him doing this. He is neither a sellout nor a charlatan for endorsing the presumptive nominee, he is simply playing by the rules of the party he signed up for. He ran as a Democrat to gain national media attention to effectively get his message out to the masses and, in that, he has succeeded marvelously.
As I explained in a recent HuffPost article, I am sure he will do what he thinks is best to forward the progressive cause. Regardless of anything else, he has sparked a progressive political revolution that will be propelled by his supporters for generations to come, aided, in no small part, by the unifying efforts of the Progressive Independent Party. #Bernie4Life #PIPUnite