A movement is growing to form a new political party -- one that would not compete with the Republican and Democratic Parties, but replace the Democratic Party altogether.
Progressive organizations, leaders, and voters will gather in Washington DC from September 8-10 for the "The People's Convergence Conference" to discuss the future of the progressive movement and the viability of starting a new party with US Sen. Bernie Sanders at the helm.
Organizers plan to kick off the event with a rally at the National Mall. They will then deliver approximately 50,000 petition signatures to Sanders, asking him to launch a new People's Party.
"These 50,000 supporters represent the majority of Americans, and what they want," said Nick Brana, founder of Draft Bernie, in an interview for IVN.
Brana cites several polls and surveys over the years that not only show support for key progressive policies, but that most Americans want a new political party.
An icitizen survey from June, for example, said 70 percent of Americans do not feel represented by the Republican and Democratic Parties, and that a third party was needed.
A Gallup poll from September 2016, said 57% of US voters believe a third party was needed -- a number that skyrocketed between 2012 and 2013 and has remained relatively steady since.
Brana believes the Draft Bernie movement has public opinion on its side and there is "no time to waste."
There is a dilemma Brana says persists within the progressive movement: Is it still worth it to "struggle against the current" to reform the Democratic Party or form a new party entirely?
US Sen. Sanders has said that right now he wants to reform the Democratic Party from within, to get it to embrace a more progressive agenda and raise its appeal among voters disenchanted with both major political parties.
However, Brana says that "the more progressive Americans become, the more they see through the Democratic Party," and that it is "really a corporate party." Many progressives, including Brana and the Draft Bernie movement, say the Democratic Party is beyond saving, and a new party needs to emerge.
The purpose of the The People's Convergence Conference is to discuss this dilemma and determine the best course of action for the progressive movement. The conference will feature Jimmy Dore, who hosts his own show on The Young Turks, author and professor Dr. Cornel West, Socialist Seattle City Committeewoman Kshama Sawant, and others.
Bernie Sanders has been invited to participate in the Draft Bernie town hall on Saturday evening at American University. The senator has yet to say whether or not he will meet with supporters.
Nick Brana was asked about the numerous institutional barriers that allow the Democratic and Republican Parties to kill competition before it can even emerge -- from party primaries, to ballot access laws, to debate exclusion, to the lack of media exposure.
He recognizes these impediments, remarking that many states have ballot access rules "that don't exist outside dictatorships."
However, he believes that with Bernie Sanders -- "the most popular politician in America" -- these barriers will not be a problem.
Sanders has the name recognition, media exposure, and Brana believes that unlike most new political parties, the senator can bring in tens of thousands of supporters from the very beginning.
"The objective is to create a party, not to compete with the Democratic Party, but to replace it," he said.
Event organizers expect around 300 people to attend The People's Convergence Conference. Brana says that even if people cannot attend the DC event, they can attend a "sister gathering" to watch Saturday's town hall.
Anyone interested can find out more about the sister gatherings here.