In December, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told CBS’s Face the Nation that she didn’t think people wanted a new direction for the Democratic Party. But recently, voters in California sent Pelosi quite the opposite message.
On January 7 and 8, elections took place throughout the state of California to elect assembly district delegates. These delegates select the state party’s leadership and vote on endorsements of candidates and propositions.
Progressive candidates were elected to over 600 delegate positions out of the 1,120 total elected. “Progressive” in this context means that they have aligned themselves with the ideology and political stances of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Many of those who had been national Bernie delegates helped form progressive slates, which were comprised of candidates who supported Sanders’ run for the presidency and heeded his call for progressives to get involved in local politics. Many of the new delegates had volunteered for his campaign, and several had been Bernie Sanders delegates at the Democratic National Convention.
Following the end of Bernie Sanders’ run for president, the Vermont senator and many of those involved in his campaign formed an organization called “Our Revolution” to keep those who were inspired by Sanders involved in the political process and to further the progressive values that had been part of his platform. A large part of Our Revolution’s focus is getting progressive candidates elected to offices in all levels of government.
With the Democrats’ defeat in the November presidential election, the call for change from within is now even louder, and the district-level delegate elections were one of the first opportunities for progressives to make their presence known within the Democratic Party.
To aid in this effort, Our Revolution launched several tools to help promote the delegate elections and the progressive candidates, including sending over 110,000 emails and 40,000 text messages to inform and mobilize voters.
However, the outreach didn’t stop there. The candidates themselves made phone calls and knocked on doors to increase turnout for their progressive slates. In addition, an organization called the Berniecrats of California set up a website to help voters find their polling place and the progressive candidates in their district.
And the success of Sanders’ supporters didn’t go unnoticed by the movement’s leaders. Both Bernie and Jane Sanders, speaking on CNN on separate occasions, mentioned the overwhelming success of progressive candidates in the California delegate elections. While district delegate elections aren’t the kind of event that makes the mainstream news, the type of takeover the progressives pulled off is the kind of event that can spark real change.
And if their success in California is any indication, the people are indeed looking to reshape the Democratic Party, and this won’t be the last we hear of the Berniecrat revolution.