“I love his accent,” added Maxine, a young woman sitting behind her. “And Bernie recognizes that money in politics is the root of all evil!”
“I love Bernie as a person,” another woman said, “without knowing him at all.” Everyone laughed.
They agreed. They all said Sanders’s first name softly, in reverence.
Jim McBride, from Silver Spring, Maryland, said he loved Sanders’s “America” ad, the one in which colorful scenes of everyday America fly past to the tune of a Simon and Garfunkel song. “That really got me,” he says. “That really crystalized him as the change candidate.”
But Sanders is no longer a candidate—for change or anything else. He isn’t the Democratic Party’s nominee, and his name won’t be on the ballot in November. What happens when a band of loyal revolutionaries loses its leader?
They hold a meeting.
* * *
“Today is not about venting our frustration about the campaign. It’s not about which candidate is better or whether it’s better to stay home,” a young Frenchman named Raphael said solemnly. “This is about what’s next.”
And what’s next, for this group, is translating Bernie’s progressive revolution into local politics. A young, black man wearing a “Paid Sick Days for All” shirt stepped forward and introduced himself as Jeremiah Lowery. “I believe we can make D.C. one of the most progressive cities in the world!” he said, to cheers.
But first, the group set some guidelines so the brainstorming session wouldn’t get out of hand, writing them down with a Sharpie marker on a piece of paper taped to the wall:
- Stay focused
- Stay motivated/constructive
- Continue to be inclusive
The guidelines seemed to speak more to the future of the movement than the meeting itself—the future of a movement so diverse in its membership, in its ideas, and its passions, that it barely seems able to contain them all. The meeting is spent brainstorming the future of the “Bernie family,” as one man put it, with each family member wanting something different—and wanting it now.
Representatives from several local groups stood up and advocated for their particular causes. A woman asked for support for a social-insurance program giving all employees in D.C. a minimum of 12 weeks of paid medical leave; another woman explained the importance of imposing carbon fees on area businesses, a policy that would make businesses pay city residents for polluting; and a man from an organization called Justice First criticized the city’s facilitation of gentrification and touted affordable housing policies.
An older man named Steve suggested everyone get on board against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement Sanders fought against throughout the course of his campaign. Someone else suggested that the group’s first step should be finding a brick-and-mortar location to begin recruiting people.