Senior advisers to the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign leadership offer pointers on how to start the next movement—or perhaps continue the one they started.
By some lights, Sanders should have won the Democratic Party nomination in 2016. By any measure, his “revolution” was an extraordinary success, taking a little-known, admitted socialist from a small New England state and propelling him to the national spotlight—and, though a half-century’s age difference prevailed, capturing the hearts of countless millennials. Bond and Exley, members of a team of “go-for-broke irregulars,” did much to propel the Sanders movement in their daily work, much of which hinged on old-fashioned principles of campaigning. As they note, “when you look at the actual campaign results, the gold standard for moving voters in elections is a volunteer having a conversation with a voter on the doorstep or on the telephone.” How do you get volunteers inspired? How do you organize them, especially when they’re working for an out-of-the-mainstream candidate and may incline to the anarchic? How do you keep the bossy ones from cowing the more sheepish among the crew? Bond and Exley, alternating chapters and anecdotes, have plenty of answers: don’t ask who wants to be the leader but instead ask “who wants to get to work.” Make everyone feel welcome. Above all, make everyone feel as if they’re taking part in a historic moment, in something big. That said, the authors note, there are some necessary evils, including hiring professionals once an electoral movement gets to a certain momentum and courting wealthy donors. Again, they have answers: “Puritanism is a bad thing!” they admonish, meaning there’s not much room in practical politics for purity of procedure—to which they add, helpfully, that the path to change means being “willing to throw out old practices.”
A lively update of and rejoinder to Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, which, as this book very well may do, has long offered guidance to the right as well as the left.