Smartly, Elizabeth Warren — maybe in a move to preserve her chances for 2020 or 2024 — has repeatedly declined the left flank of the Democratic Party’s calls for her to run for president. Still, as a recent New Yorker profile of Warren pointed out, Warren’s role is as the Democrats’ squeaky, anti-establishment wheel and a bulldog on Wall Street bankers, Republicans and centrist Democrats alike; there’s also no indication she won’t make a run in the future. By that time, America’s progressives, working together, may be well organized enough to actually put someone into office they can trust — and have enough street heat to make sure they don’t go back on their word.
“No president, not Bernie Sanders, not anybody, will succeed [in taking on the oligarchs] unless there is a mass mobilization of millions of people who stand up and say enough is enough.”
Looking towards the 2016 elections, those attempting to build or catalyze transformative movements should take Sanders’s own advice — part of which might mean putting a little less faith in the man himself.
Focusing on candidates themselves, however aligned with a movement’s views, is a flawed way to approach achieving major progressive wins. As Arun Gupta writes for Telesur TV, “go ahead and vote for Sanders and Clinton, but that’s all. Spend the rest of your time, energy and money on building militant grassroots activism.” Rather than stumping for Sanders or some Warrenite specter of Hillary that will never exist, organizers might devote their time to building out movements that won’t just ask for center stage come election time, but make it impossible to imagine candidates who aren’t vying for those movements’ support, even tapping its leaders for their cabinets.
If Barack Obama’s hawkish, hardly “change” filled presidency has been any indication, elected officials are only as valuable as the masses holding their feet to the fire. As a legitimate candidate, Sanders has the potential to claw open conversations that organizers have been pushing for years, creating rare opportunities in the national dialogue that grassroots forces can use to their advantage.