Here are some of the most commonly asked questions. Please join the conversation on Facebook at DraftBernie.
Q. Why would Bernie want to create a new party for the people?
A. To continue the political revolution he started, to have a party that is not beholden to special interests and large donors, to provide an alternative home for progressives who are constantly undermined by the Democratic Party and unwelcome in the Republican Party.
Q. Who else might join Bernie in this new party?
A. There are a number of rising progressive politicians disenchanted with the two-party system who might be very attracted to a new party with Bernie as a leader: Tulsi Gabbard and Nina Turner, for example. Other progressive leaders also might be receptive, such as well-known movement figures like Cornell West and Michelle Alexander. The new party could also attract into politics many ordinary people who don’t see hope in the current government or in either of the major two parties.
Q. Bernie has already said he wants to transform the Democratic Party, why are you trying to do this?
A. Having run in the Democratic primary, Bernie did not want to risk being a “spoiler” in the general election. Now that the election is over that immediate fear is no longer relevant. While Trump and the right wing consolidate power, the Democratic Party continues to be more responsive to its rich donors than its traditional base. As an independent, Bernie is free to evaluate his options and change his mind about how to best resist the right and continue the revolution.
Q. Is Bernie actually receptive to the idea of building a new party?
A. Potentially, yes. In a C-SPAN interview on June 24 2016, Bernie suggested that if it isn’t possible to open up the Democratic Party to the progressive grassroots, the “action” for progressives would be “in a third party.” Clearly, he has some serious doubts about the Democrats, even though he is still trying to reform them. But further Democratic Party betrayals could push Bernie over the edge. And a growing progressive movement to persuade him to found a new party could convince him to do just that. After all, it was a popular Draft Bernie campaign that helped persuade him to run for president in the first place.
Q. What happens if Bernie doesn’t start a new party? Will this effort help or hurt progressive politics?
A. We feel very optimistic about Bernie hearing our call for a new party. This campaign is meant to provide an alternative to “doing the same and hoping for different results.” It seeks to foster discussion about a new approach, and to raise awareness about the need for alternatives to the two party duopoly. Just the fact there is a movement to get Bernie to join a new party can give him and other progressives leverage in negotiations with the two major establishment parties. But there is a limit to what can be accomplished within existing parties beholden to special interests and, if not Bernie, others will start a new party. Though we don’t believe that even this will be enough to fundamentally change the Democratic Party, nothing will push it to reform itself like the risk of losing power and eventually being replaced.
Q. Why form yet another progressive party as an alternative to the two major parties? Why not just encourage Bernie and other progressives to join the Green Party, which is already established nationwide, or some other existing party?
A. The Green Party has made some gains in the three decades since its founding. It has also raised critical issues and arguably paved the way for progressive challenges to duopoly in the 21st century. Yet its growth in recent years has been weak, and its popular appeal seems limited. Perhaps that will change at some point. But a strong case can be made that a different progressive party is also needed now–one that has a clearer populist message, a larger audience, and leaders who are better known and more widely respected. In other words, we need a party that is capable of gaining much more public support and thereby competing for power more effectively. Draft Bernie for a People’s Party has the potential to create that party. It initially could draw support from a huge base of Bernie supporters, most of whom have so far resisted joining any existing progressive third party. That could enable the People’s Party to make substantial election breakthroughs fairly quickly, unlike similar parties with a much smaller base.
Q. How will Draft Bernie for a People’s Party relate to other progressive parties and groups opposing the duopoly?
A. It will treat them as allies pursuing different, though sometimes intersecting paths to a common goal. A diversity of progressive third party efforts can be a strength; it can promote experimentation with different approaches and ultimately show which work best. At the same time, Draft Bernie for a People’s Party is open to collaborating with like-minded organizations when politically constructive.