Volunteers dial into New York to register voters for Sanders

Volunteers across the United States are coming together in an effort to register New Yorkers to be able to vote for Sanders in the primary.

An online group is signing people up to call independent voters in New York who would be ineligible to vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary unless they changed their affiliation to Democrat.

The group says it has so far dialled almost 2000 voters in New York, and hopes to reach tens of thousands more before the deadline in just 25 days.

“Similar to the official campaign, we’ve been really amazed at how quickly volunteers reached out to us and signed up to phone bank. The volunteer base has grown much more quickly than we ever expected,” Erika said, who is helping to organise the effort.

“It’s been an amazing experience being able to work with such a diverse group of volunteers who have all come together to help us counter the negative impact of the early New York deadline.”

New York has a closed-primary, like many other states, however voters have until just October 9 to register as a Democrat to vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary.

Though Sanders was born in Brooklyn, he is up against Hillary Clinton, who resides in and represented the state of New York in the United States Senate for eight years.

Clinton’s campaign headquarters are also in New York.

If you’re living in New York and believe you are registered as an independent, or with a party other than the Democrats, you need to change your voter registration now. You can find out more about how to do that here.

If you would like to volunteer to ring voters in New York, you can sign up here.

Why Bernie supporters aren’t happy with Wasserman Schultz

Some are accusing DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz of rigging the debate schedule against Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley.

There will only be six debates between Democratic presidential candidates this cycle. That’s because DNC Chair Debbie Wassherman Shultz has decided so.

Any candidate who takes part in a debate outside of the six sanctioned by the DNC will be prohibited from participating in a sanctioned DNC debate, though Martin O’Malley’s lawyer has questioned the legality of this rule.

Some would say this undemocratic restriction has been put in place to help win the nomination for Hillary Clinton, who has everything to lose by participating in debates, especially against Sanders, an opponent who has been gaining national momentum.

It is also concerning that this is the first time in the party’s history anything like this has occurred. There were almost 30 debates between Democratic contenders during the 2008 election cycle.

Supporters of O’Malley, Sanders and other lesser-known candidates have every right to be frustrated by the DNC restrictions.

How Bernie Sanders is different from Hillary Clinton

To any political outsider, Bernie Sanders may not seem all that different to rival Hillary Clinton. But, there are many major differences between them.

Bernie Sanders is raising money from the working-class, and will not accept campaign contributions from corporations through a Super PAC. Hillary Clinton has raised more than $20,000,000 through her Super PAC.

Hillary Clinton has a personal net worth of almost $22,000,000, while Bernie Sanders has an estimated net worth of just $330,000. It’s not hard to see which candidate is more in touch with the middle class.

Sanders opposed the Patriot Act in 2001 and in 2006, while Hillary Clinton supported in both times. Bernie also supports the abolition of the death penalty, while Clinton is in favor of the death penalty.

Clinton’s position on the big banks isn’t clear, while Sanders is committed to breaking up the big banks, a goal that is supported by Senate colleague Elizabeth Warren.

Bernie Sanders has been a gay rights advocate as early as the 1970s, while Hillary Clinton only began supporting marriage equality in 2013. Before that, she was of the view that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

Clinton supports the Keystone XL Pipeline and offshore drilling, while Sanders opposes both of those things.

It’s clear to see why Bernie Sanders is attracting so many campaign contributors, more than 400,000 to date. 80% of Sanders’ campaign contributions are less than $200, while just 19% of Clinton’s are under $200.

How Bernie can access the youth vote – and win

Bernie Sanders can ignite the liberal base by fighting for the youth vote, writes Tanzil Chowdhury.

We often hear that the Independent vote is the most decisive voting population in an election, and the logic, at first glance, seems to check out. People who are Democratic and Left-leaning will always vote for the Democratic candidate, while people who are Republican and Right-leaning will always vote for the Republican candidate, meaning that the undecided Independent voters will make the difference. However, this reasoning has one major flaw. What if the base doesn’t vote?

Turns out, we already know the answer. As Sanders pointed out in his speech to the DNC Summer Meeting, the Democrats lost control of the Senate in 2014 because of the abysmal voter turnout. The unprecedented liberal fervor from President Obama’s groundbreaking 2008 campaign has all but vanished, leaving the energized Left-leaning base a mere shell of its former self. In fact, the voter turnout in 2014 was the lowest for a national election in the United States since World War II, clocking in at 36.4 percent of the voting-eligible population. What happened?

There’s one key demographic to look at that explains how and why the Democratic base is losing its strength, the youth vote. The amount of people between the ages of 18 and 29 voting in 2008 skyrocketed, leaving Obama with youth vote differentials upwards of +20 percent in many primary states and overwhelming youth support in the general, according to the Pew Research Center. However, these historic youth numbers dipped in 2012. The youth turnout dropped significantly, about 7 percent. Now why’s that important?

Well, according to the New York Times, no group voted more favorably for Obama in the 2008 democratic primary than the Under 30 age group, with the exception of the Hispanic and African-American vote. As shown above, the youth came out in unprecedented fashion for Obama, and this group has the potential to be decisive if Sanders is to capture the democratic nomination.

Many key demographics have fallen securely into the Democratic base, including women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and young people, all of which are favoring Hillary nationally at the moment. With the combination of low turnout and the youth’s secure standing as part of the Democratic base, Sanders has a unique quality that can swing the contest in his favor, his ability to re-ignite the 2008 passion amongst youth voters.

Three major factors seem to have caused the recent drop in turnout: increasing political barriers in registration, the perceived lack of sincerity among politicians, and the feeling that their vote is unimportant. However, the Sanders campaign, due to its distinctive structure has the unique ability overcome these hurdles more efficiently than any other campaign in the race.

Following in the footsteps of Howard Dean in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008, the Sanders camp has organized a 50-state, grassroots campaign focused on directly reaching voters. Through groups such as Students for Bernie Sanders, the Sanders campaign has a great opportunity in reaching a large portion of the youth vote. Not only do these groups present Bernie’s message, but they can break down the confusing nature of voting. Bernie’s grassroots groups can provide registration training and host registration events that will draw in youth at hotspots such as Universities, which tend to be especially left-leaning. With these measures, the first factor can be mitigated.

Next, the ideological roots of the Sanders campaign and Bernie Sanders’s political history can resolve the other two factors limiting the youth vote. It’s no secret that Bernie’s message, including speaking out against high tuition rates, large corporations, and increasing the minimum wage, connects well with the typical liberal young person. If Bernie’s campaign can present a topical narrative while refusing to play the political and media game, Sanders can bring many youth voters back into politics. This can even feed back and access other parts of the Democratic base.

Last night, during his DNC speech, Sanders remarked, “Democrats will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate, will not gain the House and will not be successful in dozens of governor’s races unless we run a campaign which generates excitement and momentum”. The Sanders campaign has all the distinctive features needed to access this group and continue its wave of momentum. Now, it all comes down to execution.

Is Sanders leading the start of a new progressive era?

The surge of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is fueling a movement of progressives across the country, writes Jacob Lind.

In 2013, Kshama Sawant was elected to the Seattle City Council. Ordinarily, such an event would be of little note to the United States at large, however, Sawant is no ordinary politician, at least by today’s standards.  A member of the Socialist Alternative, Sawant became the first socialist party member elected to public office in a major metropolitan area in over 100 years.  She recently dominated in the primary for her first re-election campaign, taking 51.88% of the vote in a 5-way contest.

Her closest competitor barely scraped 15%.  Yet, despite Sawant’s popularity, socialism and progressivism as a whole has been decidedly lacking in the United States for the last century.  Since Warren G. Harding proposed his “Return to Normalcy” following the First World War and progressive presidency of Woodrow Wilson, the U.S. has been in a constant Red Scare.  As a result, words like progressive and socialist have become political poison.  Indeed, aside for Sawant, the only other politician who dares to accept the mantle of socialist is Vermont Senator and current Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Sanders is the longest serving independent in the history of the United States Congress, and though he caucuses alongside the Democrats, he has remained fiercely independent his entire career.  Even now, as he pursues the Democratic nomination, he refuses corporate donations and is known as a fighter for the average American.  When he launched his campaign in April of 2015, the establishment laughed in his face.  Pundits claimed that he was little more than a protest candidate and snottily declared that his only purpose was to pull Hillary to the left.

One news anchor perhaps best summed up Beltway criticism of Sanders by declaring, “he’s a socialist for God’s sake,” implying that alone barred him from even being seriously considered for the Presidency.  And the polls seemed to agree with this thinking.  After all, Real Clear Politics showed that Sanders, on average, polled at below 5% at the time of his announcement.  Surely, such a radical candidate could never gain any traction with the larger American community, especially with the moniker of socialist?

But then, something remarkable happened.  To his supporters, it seemed to be the natural outgrowth of the merit of Sanders’ ideas and authenticity, but to the rest of the nation, it was a shock.  First his poll numbers tripled, sending him to 15% nationally.  But still, his detractors said it was just the anti-Hillary vote and that he wouldn’t rise beyond that.  But then, he was hot on the rise in New Hampshire, polling at a statistical tie with Clinton.  In the midst of these rising poll numbers, those same average Americans of whom, according to a Gallup poll, only 47% would vote for a socialist, began turning out in the hundreds, and then thousands, and then tens of thousands to support Sanders.

This meteoric rise has yet to level off and he has already more than quintupled his support on the national stage, taken the lead in New Hampshire and is hot on Hillary’s heels in Iowa, West Virginia, and Oregon.  All this, for a socialist.

For the first time in a century, Americans are looking at a socialist and true progressive, not with fear and derision, but with respect and serious consideration.  Though a Sanders presidency is not inevitable, and a loss is possible, Bernie himself has often said that this campaign is not about him.  It’s about a grassroots effort to elect progressives at every level, and not just put one in the White House.  This is big for other Kshama Sawant-esque hopefuls across the country.  Ultimately, even if Sanders fails to secure the Democratic nomination, the grassroots energy and infrastructure that has emerged around him will not simply wither and die.  No, instead that energy can be turned to local elections, for city council, state senate, and school board.

Suddenly, people will consider progressive ideas, rather than throwing them away right from the get go.  Even if he loses, Sanders has already done an enormous amount to restore the place for progressives in the national and local conversation.  He may well be the William Jennings Bryan that ushers in a new wave of Progressive Presidents, movements, and reforms.

That being said, I certainly hope that he wins.

Bernie Sanders and Black Charleston

Each city has its unique challenges, political culture, and history that candidates must be aware of and adapt to in order to become successful in these respective areas.

Charleston, South Carolina, with its prominence in racial issues in recent headlines and its past, is no exception. While Mr. Sanders has minimal chances of winning the allegiance of the vast majority of white residents of this city aside from the minority of far left elements due to the tendency of most local whites toward either conservative or mainstream Democratic politics, there are certain factors that Mr. Sanders must also consider if he is to win the allegiance of the city’s black voters.

The Factor of History

Charleston’s black history runs deeper than that of most American cities. The first Africans arrived here in 1670 aboard the ship “Three Brothers” along with Captain Nathaniel Sayle, which, according to historian Peter Wood in his book ‘Black Majority,” began a process that led to the black population actually outnumbering the whites in this area from the 1700s to the Great Migration to Northern cities in the 1920s. This surplus was due to the demand for slave labor in the local rice fields. There were two important results of this population dominance; the black population in Charleston maintained more of their African speech patterns and cultural practices than almost any other black community in America in what is called the Gullah culture (alternately called Geechee) whose names are said to be inspired by the Gola and Gizze tribes of Sierra Leone and Liberia of which most Charleston blacks are descended. This community, which has traditionally consisted mostly of the city’s black poor and working classes, faces problems of displacement and cultural issues typical of indigenous populations that will be discussed later in this essay. Another result of the dominance in population was the greater risk of slave rebellions. The best known of these were the attempted rebellion by Denmark Vesey and his followers in 1822, and the Stono Ferry rebellion of 1739. Each of these resulted in the execution of its plotters and greater restrictions upon the black population.

During Reconstruction, the black community temporarily prospered in the rise of black political power, as African Americans served as Lieutenant Governors, college professors, city councilmen, policemen, and other prominent positions. With the fall of Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow laws and disfranchisement at the close of the 1800s, a sense of bitterness and futility settled in, but occasional advancements took place. Among these was the 1898 meeting against lynching at Mother Emanuel AME Church, the rise of black schools and local businesses, and armed resistance during the 1919 race riots. Unfortunately, the best and brightest of the black population was led by the lack of opportunities to migrate to cities such as New York City, Washington DC, and Philadelphia, while the local masses remained largely stagnant.

However, in the 1950s and 60s, local leaders such as businessman Esau Jenkins, educator Septima Clark, mortician Herbert Fielding, and several others led the local civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King occasionally visited these leaders and spoke in this city, inspiring considerable change in regard to segregation and political restrictions, reaching its peak during a hospital strike of black workers in 1969. Local radio station WPAL also mixed programs of political information with Soul and Gospel music. However, with the deaths of these leaders and the fall of WPAL by the beginning of the millennium, apathy and despair again set in. While the city of Charleston prospered under its leadership, a major side effect was the gentrification of Charleston and the displacement of its poor black population and the decline of its traditionally black schools.

The Walter Scott and Mother Emanuel killings

Two events in the first half of 2015 brought national attention to the problems of black Charlestonians. The North Charleston police department was infamous in its reputation in dealing with its black citizens. Many blacks have complained of frequent stops by the police of that section, and it was not uncommon for local blacks to warn others about driving or walking in North Charleston. On April 4, 2015, 50 year old Walter Scott ran from Officer Michael Slager at the Advance Auto Supplies Store on Remount Road and Craig Streets in North Charleston during a traffic arrest. Scott was then allegedly shot eight times in the back to death by Officer Slager while Scott was running away. Slager was arrested for his actions after a local individual filmed the incident, which was then broadcast on television and social media. While it may be said that the arrest of Officer Slager prevented possible rioting that plagued other cities where such shootings have occurred, there were still angry protests that received far less attention from the mainstream media than the peaceful demonstrations, and when the Charleston Post and Courier attempted to interview North Charleston residents about complaints regarding local law enforcement, many refused to be quoted out of fear.

Two months later on June 17, nine local blacks including the church’s pastor were killed during a Bible Study at the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston. Again, the suspect was arrested. The international media focused on peaceful and harmonious demonstrations between the city’s racial and ethnic groups, but angrier nonviolent protests by more militant groups were again largely ignored.

The Role of Bernie Sanders

Sanders was scheduled to attend a rally in Charleston in June that was arranged before the Mother Emanuel shootings, but he cancelled this rally out of respect for the shooting victims. As it stands, while he is liked among the small community of black intellectuals and those who are not fond of the current Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton, he is not widely known among the black masses. While this was also true of current president Barack Obama in the early years of his campaign, President Obama had the advantage of inspiring racial pride among many blacks with his polished oratory and charisma.

While Bernie Sanders’ ideas tend to appeal to the small black intelligentsia, many politically active blacks remain supporters of the traditional Democratic Party and of Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately, many blacks in South Carolina are politically apathetic nonvoters (aside from being motivated to vote for President Obama in the last two presidential elections), and large numbers of men are disfranchised due to the felony restrictions put in place by the South Carolina “Jim Crow” Constitution of 1895, which remains in effect and continues in its original intention of reducing black voting power.

There is also the concern of the heckling by Sanders from two members of Black Lives Matter (a youth organization that grained prominence after a series of high profile killings of black youth by whites and policemen). While Black Lives Matter is still small in numbers on a national level as of this writing and their future remains to be seen, they are presently growing in influence and media attention, due largely to the lack of a coherent agenda of prominent traditional black leadership. As an emerging leader of the American left, Sanders would do well to engage in dialogue with its leadership.

While Sanders has recently published a position paper on race that covers such issues as police violence, disfranchisement, poor education, mass incarceration, affordable child care, and college costs, it needs additional input by black community members as well as the intelligentsia. The issue of gentrification and displacement, central to that of many blacks, needs to be covered, as well as the unique problems faced by rural blacks, who are ignored in policy discussions despite their large numbers (this is particularly true along South Carolina’s “Corridor of Shame,”-a poverty stricken black belt along Interstate 95 that was featured in the early days of the Obama campaign, but seldom heard from again, as well as the Mississippi Delta and the agrarian regions of other Southern states) must also be addressed.

Sanders must also make use of black media to reach out to this community. Appearances on radio programs with large black audiences such as Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey, and D.L. Hughley who are nationally syndicated are a must, along with black magazines as Ebony and Essence. Some inroads may also be considered among celebrities and music artists as well as ads in black newspapers. But while he is in Charleston, he would do well to travel throughout the black communities and listen to the common, everyday people to learn of their problems firsthand and unfiltered by officials and maintain contact and a relationship with these individuals if he is to succeed in preparing programs to gain the allegiance of the people.

Damon L. Fordham is a Charleston based author and historian.

Some of the reasons we love Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders has gone from being an independent Senator from the small state of Vermont to a Democratic presidential candidate, and a household name.

What’s not to love about Bernie Sanders? He is straight up, honest and consistent. He’s been saying the same things his whole career, and he’s someone that we can trust to be president.

Here are just some of the countless reasons we love Bernie Sanders.

He’s building a political revolution

Admittedly, Bernie tells us what no other candidate will tell us. Nobody, no matter how good they are can solve America’s problems by themselves as president. It’s going to take a political revolution of millions of people across America to make real change. Bernie knows it, and we know it too.

He’s acknowledging problems other candidate’s won’t

A few months ago, there’s no way you would have thought any of the candidates would be addressing problems such as money in politics, and the disastrous Citizens United decision. Bernie was the first candidate to speak to the Black Lives Matter movement, and to say their names. Weeks later, Hillary was singing Bernie’s song.

He’s saying today what he said decades ago

Sanders first entered Congress in 1991 as the Representative of Vermont’s at-large district. On entering Congress, Sanders formed the Congressional Progressive Caucus, fighting for economic justice, civil rights and civil liberties, environmental protection and global peace and security. Much of what he said decades ago is the same as what he’s saying today.

He won’t take money from big corporations

Bernie Sanders is not for sale, and he will not take money from big corporations, and he does not want a Super PAC, unlike his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Sanders also believes that the Citizens United decision made by the Supreme Court needs to be overturned by means of a constitutional amendment.

The internet loves him

Just today, Bernie Sanders surpassed Hillary Clinton in total Facebook page likes. He’s got a Reddit following of close to 100,000 supporters, and his videos are attracting millions of views on YouTube. There are online communities dedicated to his campaign, with volunteers across the country organizing to help elect him.

Sanders currently polling better than Obama in 2007

Bernie Sanders is performing better in the national polls than Barack Obama did at this point in 2007.

A poll conducted between the 7th and 13th of August 2007 showed Hillary Clinton to be the clear favorite in the Democratic field. She was on 36 per cent. Her closest rival, Barack Obama had just 21 per cent. Other polls conducted around the same time showed similar figures

Nobody thought Barack Obama stood a chance against Hillary Clinton.

A poll released today, conducted between the 11th and 13th of August 2015 showed Hillary Clinton to be the favorite in the Democratic field. She is on 49 per cent, while her closest rival, Bernie Sanders is on 30 per cent.

Sanders is now polling 9 per cent higher than Barack Obama did at the same time in the 2008 election cycle.

In March 2007, a poll conducted by CNN had Obama on 22 per cent. In March of this year, a Fox News poll had Sanders on 3 per cent.

Comparatively, Sanders has gone from being a lesser known and less popular candidate than Barack Obama was, to being more popular than him comparatively.

Obama went on to be President of the United States.

Do not for one moment tell me that we can not win this, because when we stand together, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.

Why New Yorkers need to register as Democrats now

New Yorkers only have until October 9 to register as a Democrat in order to vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary.

The New York primary might be in April of next year, but Bernie’s supporters need to start registering as Democrats if they are to vote for him in the primary election.

This means that volunteers need to mobilize quickly to start engaging supporters in New York, and ensure they register before the looming October 9 deadline.

Yes, that means you New Yorkers won’t even get a chance to see a Democratic presidential candidates’ debate to weigh up their options before registering. It’s no wonder the Sanders and O’Malley campaigns are pushing the DNC hard for more debates, before the deadline.

New Yorkers can register as Democrats with the Board of Elections.

Sanders faces fierce competition in New York, which is home to the Clinton campaign. Sanders was born in Brooklyn in 1941, but was living in Vermont by 1968.

The New York primary is set to be held on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

Why Bernie Sanders has the Koch brothers worried

The Koch Brothers will spend close to $1 billion to elect Republicans this election cycle, and Bernie Sanders has them worried about their prospects.

It’s very extremely clear where the Kochs stand. They want tax breaks for the super rich, and the cutting government spending. The Kochs want to repeal what the call the ‘fraudulent’ social security system that protects vulnerable Americans. They oppose any program that provides aid to the poor, or those in need.

It’s pretty clear to see why the Kochs are no fan of Sanders. But they’ve got more than $1 billion to spend this election cycle, so why are they worried about Sanders, who has only raised $15 million, as at the last report?

Sanders is building a grassroots movement, made up of hundreds of thousands across the United States. While the Kochs have the money, we have the people, and when we stand together there’s nothing we cannot accomplish. And that’s what the Kochs understand.

The Senator from Vermont is building an unprecedented movement of people, old and young, black and white, gay and straight, standing together to expand the middle class and create a fairer, more equal society.

Volunteers are mobilizing across America, while Sanders continues to rise in the polls. Hundreds of thousands are showing up in support of Sanders, including 70,000 last weekend on the West Coast.

It’s no wonder the Koch brothers are freaking out.