In this week’s issue, we asked a group of progressive activists and leaders to reflect on how to keep the political revolution—one sparked by movements and reflected in the Sanders campaign—alive and kicking. Vote Green! said Kshama Sawant. Organize local electoral power, offered several contributors. Build independent social movements, argued Naomi Klein. We also asked you, our readers, to weigh in. We received hundreds of responses—from pragmatic to idealistic, single-issue to multi-platform—and we offer a sampling of those ideas here.
Norman Lear: Bernie Sanders has proven that there is no substitute for being 100 percent one’s self and for working one’s ass off to present that self wherever, whenever, to anyone and everyone who’ll listen. What John Lewis did on the floor of Congress—staging a sit-in for gun control—was another example of that. What Elizabeth Warren does day in and day out is another example of the same. At our essence, we liberals are the true conservatives. You will not mess with our Bill of Rights, our Constitution, our Declaration—those words that guarantee to all equal opportunity and equal justice under the law.
Rosemary Kean: Bernie’s key problem was not reaching out to black voters. If he had, he would be the nominee. Although Black Lives Matter tried to wake him up, Bernie didn’t stay woke. Antiracism has to be a key policy for any party hoping to move beyond too little health care, deteriorating schools, lack of affordable housing, and endless war.
Robert Stoll: To continue this revolution, progressives need to stay engaged and push forward. They need to vote not only in primaries, but also in the general and subsequent elections. This will be a challenge, because young people typically do not have high voter turnout and frequently give up when they are not immediately successful. Young people will stay engaged if there is authentic hope for the future, with some successes along the way. People are primarily driven by economics, so strategies for short-term policy successes after election day should be focused in those areas, such as massive student loan restructuring or forgiveness, paid by “excess profits” taxes.
Homer Connor: Progressive organizations such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL, Sierra Club, etc. need to form a unifying organization as corporations have done with the American Legislative Exchange Council. This organization would be able to have more influence on Congress than many separate organizations.
Susan Adelman: Our role and the issues we address will be vastly different depending on who wins the presidential election. There is, however, a constant: the protofascist, racist, misogynist sentiment, which has been nurtured—sometimes overtly, sometimes covertly—by Republicans for decades. While I understand there are other factors coalescing around Trump, I believe this to be the most dangerous. And I believe the progressive movement underestimated the strength of this sentiment. We were largely unprepared to peacefully and creatively counter it, and we didn’t celebrate Obama when there were opportunities to do so.