Former Bernie Sanders delegates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention have voted to reconstitute the independent Bernie Delegates Network.
The vote was 408 “yes” to 23 “no” in response to this question: “Do you favor a relaunch of the independent Bernie Delegates Network in 2019?”
Organizers called the vote “a landslide” and said they will proceed with relaunching the nationwide network in early January.
The election was conducted online over a five-day period ending December 11. Former delegates were given a unique code that could only be used to vote once.
Before and during the national convention in July 2016, the Bernie Delegates Network – while maintaining independence from the Sanders campaign organization – enabled Sanders delegates to communicate and plan with each other.
The network developed a rapid-response capacity to survey Sanders delegates about their issue priorities and tactical preferences, and then quickly share the results. For instance, going into the convention, several hundred delegates voted in Bernie Delegates Network surveys to give top priority to visibly expressing opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and support for single-payer Medicare for All.
“It makes perfect sense that 2016 Bernie delegates – who gave hundreds of hours of service in order to pursue policies like improved Medicare for All and an aggressive climate emergency mobilization – would now be organized to help develop plans for the future and remain connected to each other across the country,” said Donna Smith, currently the chair of the National Advisory Board of Progressive Democrats of America.
Smith is a former executive director of PDA, whose members included more than 200 Sanders delegates at the national convention. She added: “I hope the 2019 Bernie Delegates Network will once again push the edges of the possible for Democrats who still believe we can reframe our message, retain our core mission in support of justice, and regain our power to lead. After all, Bernie’s 2016 Democratic presidential primary and the delegates he inspired have already helped to elect the new class of congressional leaders who are already shaking the balance of power.”
The chair of the California Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus, Karen Bernal, said the Bernie Delegates Network can play a vital role next year regardless of whether Sanders runs for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Bernal was co-chair of California’s Sanders delegation to the national convention.
Bernal said: “We could not have predicted the level of overwhelming support we received for continuing the Bernie Delegates Network – we’re thrilled! The results showed people’s appreciation for a mechanism that values their input and determination. As we soon go into another presidential election cycle, the observations and opinions of former delegates will no doubt be seen as a reflection of the wider views of many across the nation.”
Bernal added: “More importantly, it’s my hope that the independence of the Bernie Delegates Network will assist in shaping conversations around issues important to us as we go into what will be a highly charged and partisan election season.”
Norman Solomon, who coordinated the Bernie Delegates Network in 2016, commented that the 95 percent “yes” vote amounts to a mandate to revive the network: “The lopsided vote of encouragement is very gratifying. It provides an emphatic thumbs-up for the Bernie Delegates Network to re-emerge as soon as 2019 begins.” Solomon is the national coordinator of RootsAction.org, an online group that currently has an email list of 1.25 million active supporters in the United States.
“The overwhelming vote to re-establish the Bernie Delegates Network reflects the enduring impacts of what Bernie Sanders has inspired,” said Pia Gallegos, former chair of the Adelante Progressive Caucus of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. “The independence of BDN will allow us freedom of action and freedom of speech to influence and shape the issues during the presidential campaign.”
Gallegos, Smith, Bernal, Solomon and RootsAction co-founder Jeff Cohen were co-authors of two widely discussed reports – “Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis” and the October 2018 follow-up, “Democratic Autopsy: One Year Later.”