Ardent supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders are coming to terms, each in their own time, with the fact that Sanders will not be the Democratic presidential nominee. But the saddest thing for them, for Sanders, and for Sanders' legacy would be if the momentum behind progressive policies that his campaign sparked were laid to rest with his candidacy. Those who refuse to let that happen are asking what they can do next to keep the progressive push going strong. One thing is to get in on an initiative started by former Sanders staffers called Brand New Congress.
Right now, Brand New Congress is more of an idea than an actual movement: A group of former staffers and volunteers are putting the idea out there to see if they can get enough of Sanders' voter base to pitch in and make the effort a success. And that effort is to stack the 2018 Congress with as many progressive candidates as possible.
The goal is to identify progressive congressional candidates around the country by March 2017 and work to get them elected. This is no small feat, and the people behind the initiative have no delusions about how challenging it will be:
We're building on the tools, tactics and networks that we developed together on Bernie's campaign. But to pull this off, the volunteer movement will have to wield more power and resources than on any campaign before.
Sanders' historic campaign showed that there is a substantial amount of support for progressive policy among the electorate, and that many people are willing to volunteer and contribute to campaigns they believe in. However, mid-term elections generally have abysmal turnout, with fewer than half of eligible voters casting ballots for congressional candidates. Getting people excited and invested in order to make a significant impact on the make-up of Congress will require hard work and commitment among Sanders' voter base.
Brand New Congress will be holding events across the country throughout the summer to meet with and talk to people about the initiative, so check out their schedule to see if you can attend one. You can also express your support for the idea and find out what else you can do by signing up for updates on their website.
The success or failure of Brand New Congress will be one measure of whether the vim and vigor sparked by Sanders will last beyond his presidential bid. In order for the initiative to continue, a substantial number of Sanders supporters will need to express interest and commitment to working for progressive congressional candidates in 2018. The work isn't over, folks; it's just begun.