FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Head of National Nurses Encourages Bernie Sanders to Start a People’s Party

Even if you attended the 4,000-strong Peoples Summit in Chicago on June 9-11 organized by folks from the Bernie Sanders campaign and National Nurses United (NNU), you might have missed the most significant moment of the gathering. It was a seemingly offhand comment made by NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro during the Saturday evening session when Bernie Sanders spoke to an adoring crowd, but a comment that adds kindling to a potential 2020 fire.

The audience in the packed Chicago theater included volunteers for a new effort called Draft Bernie for a People’s Party. They waved Draft Bernie signs and throughout Sanders’ speech, urged him to launch a new party.

The group is made up mainly of young staff and volunteers who worked on the Sanders campaign but were so disillusioned by the Democratic Party that they are determined to start a new one. They are sympathetic to and want to collaborate with the Green Party and other existing third parties, but they want a new, fresh progressive party like the European ones that captured the public imagination and made sweeping gains. While their focus right now is getting Sanders on board, they say they’ll build a People’s Party even if he refuses to join.

At the end of Sanders’ rousing address at the Summit, he was joined on stage by his wife Jane Sanders, whose Sanders Institute was launched this weekend, and by NNU’s RoseAnn DeMoro. DeMoro looked directly at the Draft Bernie people in the audience and grinned. “We’re going to take a few questions but I want to thank all the Draft Bernie people here,” she said.  Then came the zinger. “I’m with you,” she added, as she turned around to look at Bernie and his wife. Then she pivoted back to the audience, “Nurses, are we with them?” As they roared their approval, DeMoro turned to Sanders again. “I always say: ‘heroes aren’t made, they’re cornered.”

“It was amazing,” said Nick Brana, Draft Bernie founder, who was former national political outreach coordinator for Bernie 2016 and former electoral manager for Our Revolution. “We knew that RoseAnn was supportive but had no idea that she would announce that support publicly, on stage, with Bernie Sanders standing next to her and in front of thousands of cheering fans.”

I don’t think most people in the audience realized the potential significance of the DeMoro’s endorsement. Her union has about 150,000 members and spent about $1 million on the Sanders campaign. It’s one of only six national unions that backed Bernie Sanders for president. Under DeMoro’s leadership, the nurses have become heavyweights in the progressive world, championing everything from universal single payer healthcare to a Wall Street tax to pay for free college education.  Just imagine if DeMoro could get her whole union to back a new party, and leverage that to get other unions and progressive institutions on board.

Throughout the summit, speaker after speaker railed against the Democratic Party. TV personality Van Jones trashed Hillary Clinton’s campaign for failing to connect to working-class and minority voters. “Let’s be honest,” Jones shouted. “They took a billion dollars, a billion dollars, a billion dollars, set it on fire, and called it a campaign!” Author Thomas Frank said Democrats signed off on Wall Street bailouts, mass incarceration, and the Iraq War, giving up everything the party supposedly stood for. Former State Senator Nina Turner, who had the crowd on their feet during her entire speech, said the Democrats would have to follow the people to the left, or they’d be left behind.

But criticizing the Democrats and ditching them are two entirely different things. There are certainly sincere leaders still determined to change the party from within. The Summit heard from Congressman Mark Pocan, a progressive champion who was recently elected co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. And most of the Summit was focused on getting more leftist Democrats elected, from former NAACP head Ben Jealous running for Maryland governor to the dozens of attendees running for city councils and state houses.

Getting Bernie Sanders to break with the Democrats is a long, long, long shot. And even if he agreed, creating an effective third party in the US “winner-take-all” electoral system is a treacherous path littered with dead bodies, from Ross Perot’s Americans Elect to the Tony Mazzochi’s US Labor Party.

But for those who see the Democratic Party as unfixable and the existing third parties as ineffective, what have they got to lose?

More articles by:

Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK and the human right organization Global Exchange. Follow her on twitter at @MedeaBenjamin.

November 14, 2018
Charles Pierson
Unstoppable: The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline and NAFTA
Sam Bahour
Israel’s Mockery of Security: 101 Actions Israel Could Take
Cesar Chelala
How a Bad Environment Impacts Children’s Health
George Ochenski
What Tester’s Win Means
Louisa Willcox
Saving Romania’s Brown Bears, Sharing Lessons About Coxistence, Conservation
George Wuerthner
Alternatives to Wilderness?
Robert Fisk
Izzeldin Abuelaish’s Three Daughters were Killed in Gaza, But He Still Clings to Hope for the Middle East
Dennis Morgan
For What?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Government is Our Teacher
Bill Martin
The Trump Experiment: Liberals and Leftists Unhinged and Around the Bend
Rivera Sun
After the Vote: An Essay of the Man from the North
Jamie McConnell
Allowing Asbestos to Continue Killing
Thomas Knapp
Talkin’ Jim Acosta Hard Pass Blues: Is White House Press Access a Constitutional Right?
Bill Glahn
Snow Day
November 13, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways
Victor Grossman
Germany on a Political Seesaw
Cillian Doyle
Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank
Lauren Smith
Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary
Joe Emersberger
Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador
Carol Dansereau
Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity
Dave Lindorff
Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time
Dan Corjescu
Poetry and Barbarism: Adorno’s Challenge
Patrick Bond
Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg
Ed Meek
The Kavanaugh Hearings: Text and Subtext
Binoy Kampmark
Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power
November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
Patrick Howlett-Martin
A Note on the Paris Peace Forum
Joseph G. Ramsey
Does America Have a “Gun Problem”…Or a White Supremacy Capitalist Empire Problem?
Weekend Edition
November 09, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Louis Proyect
Why Democrats Are So Okay With Losing
Andrew Levine
What Now?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Chuck and Nancy’s House of Cards
Brian Cloughley
The Malevolent Hypocrisy of Selective Sanctions
Marc Levy
Welcome, Class of ‘70
David Archuleta Jr.
Facebook Allows Governments to Decide What to Censor
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Zika Scare: a Political and Commercial Maneuver of the Chemical Poisons Industry
Nick Pemberton
When It Comes To Stone Throwing, Democrats Live In A Glass House
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail