The Sanders Institute
See more participant photos at the end of the article!!!
By Eva McBride I could tell you about every session I went to at The People’s Summit in graphic detail or about all the great speakers I listened to but that would require an entire article for each one. I could tell you all about The Sanders Institute and how excited everyone is about witnessing its birth and being asked to help nurture it but that would also be an entire article in itself. (which will happen, I’m sure.) I will post links to those things so you can read about them and I promise to follow up later.
The National Nurses United Union paid for the Summit and the money went to the Sanders Institute. I’m loving the natural symbiosis this movement has with Unions because we know that strong Unions will be a part of our strength and vice versa. This summit was also a celebration of the birth of The Sanders Institute and before the summit, we all got an email from Jane Sanders telling us about it and asking us to participate. This is a People’s movement and they see our value and want us involved. The movement is a social democracy.
One thing that I loved about the People’s Summit is that I did not hear participants or speakers talking about our goals in terms of partisan politics. They shared knowledge and ideas for how to accomplish our goals. There were Democrats and Greens and Independents and Socialists and we all were working together and it was breathtaking. I saw a coalition of the willing. It really did take my breath away to think how powerful we can be if we don’t let personalities, labels, and resentments stand in the way. We were all participating simply as people with common goals and it felt very good. Being in that giant room filled with all those geeks who cared as much as I do make me feel thankful to be involved and full of hope. I haven’t felt like that, EVER except for on a smaller scale with the friends that I made through Bernie. It felt like I had come home to my family.
I feel like that congregation of people was so full of energy and ideas and excitement that I don’t even know how to describe it to you perfectly. There was so much knowledge being shared and connections made that the momentum was almost tangible. I watched ideas being shared and conceived at a pace that would have been overwhelming if it wasn’t such positive energy. People shared all of these things freely, even their normally paid professional skills so they could contribute to the common wealth of the group. In this instance, it was the people and their ideas that were the valuable commodity, not money. We may not have the monetary resources or the power structure that our oppressors have but I have never seen such a large group so committed to doing whatever it takes to make a project work. That in itself is invaluable. This was a group of organizers, volunteers, born-out-of-necessity Progressive media outlets, and activists. Also represented were a crop of brand new candidates who had taken Bernie’s advice to “run for something” very much to heart, even if they had never imagined themselves in that role even two years ago.
I also tried to imagine the ripple effect an event like that lasting only three days was going to have on this movement when all of those people went home newly fortified with purpose that was going to affect so many others around them. You really can’t put a price on arming these people with something more valuable than the richest campaign coffer, each other. I spent a lot more time talking with people who have common goals than anything else on our agenda. I got advice and shared what I had to offer with others freely. I had a chance to brainstorm with so many people who were problem solvers and idea people like me. Thinking outside the box together like we hadn’t just met that weekend. Discussing strategy and supporting each other’s causes while we ate our meals. I can describe all of those things to you and still not do it justice. I didn’t see people arguing about which direction to head because they were too busy taking action which makes it a very effective movement. Being with that crowd and seeing these exchanges happen was literally one of the best feelings I have experienced in my little radical heart. I’m not afraid to sound corny because I am. Holy Facebook friending, Batman! I was never one for worrying how many Facebook friends I had but it’s gotten pretty high. Just sayin’ We were using the internet and free (with ads!) social media to build networks worth more than any high dollar political consulting firm or master spin doctor. Who needs to pay for smoke and mirrors to sell yourself when you have substance?
Enough with that serious stuff because it was also a lot of fun. The entire ambiance outside of the sessions was akin to Comic-con. I didn’t meet one person who wasn’t a giant political geek with an urge to make the world a better place. We weren’t talking about comic book characters but we were massive nerds for political leaders with passion and integrity. We took photos of journalists from news sources that we have relied on when we were not hearing the truth from our mainstream media and government. We stopped at vendor booths and drooled over t-shirts with a 75-year-old Jewish politician on them instead of Princess Leia in a bikini. Although I’m not opposed to that because politics is not my only geekdom and Princess Leia was also a leader in the rebel force.
This being my first time at an event like this as a member of “the press” made me want to be serious and experience everything with an eye to sharing it with you. I wanted to act like a professional, not a fan girl. My Kryptonite was Jimmy Dore. I asked for a photograph when he was at The Young Turks booth when previously I had restricted myself to staring at them while pretending not to stare at them as I went by the TYT booth on my way to the bathrooms. (Luckily, I pee a lot.) When he asked me to get in the picture with him, he really didn’t have to twist my arm. I didn’t resist the urge to post it on Facebook immediately to make my political nerd, friends at home jealous. You Know Who You Are. I lightened up a little bit after that and just did what I would do if I was a participant who took a lot of pictures and asked a lot of questions. It was impossible not to enjoy myself and just let my political geek flag fly. None of these nerds were going to judge me.
In reference to the arguments about The Summit between various Progressive groups, I would follow up by suggesting if we are going to have any kind of party maybe it should be the Humanist Party and the goal is that our fellow humans are valued more than money or power or fame or glory or egos. I don’t need to worry about labels if you show me what your priorities are and stick to them. If your goal is to end human suffering and protect the environment then you’re a part of my tribe. If your motivations are good and you want to fight for Progressive values then you can call yourself a Purple Secular Peace Pony for all I care. You don’t have to give up party affiliations or other bonds to be a part of this movement. The Corporate Establishment that has managed to quietly conduct a hostile takeover of OUR government would absolutely love it if we let petty partisan issues distract us or divide us. We’re going to need to take it back from them. We the people want our government back and we’re organizing a movement like no other. They won’t give it up easily and dividing us has always worked for them in the past. I really don’t want to give them that pleasure because the summit gave me a much clearer picture of how much power we could potentially have if we bring people together. I’m going to let Senator Bernie Sanders summarize for me because he’s the one that made me believe that it could happen because he believed it. I watched him start a Revolution just by telling the truth.
RJ Mastro, co-state lead of the Draft Bernie campaign in Colorado and Thomas Meinhardt Photo Credit: Luis Magana