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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Sargent: Sanders Focused Not only on Winning Presidency, But Also on Building a Long-Term Movement

Greg Sargent has a perceptive post at The Plum Line, making a point that has largely been overlooked by the mainstream media — that Sen. Bernie Sanders has a long-term strategy that will continue even if he loses the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination. As Sargent notes in his comment on Sen. Sanders’ extraordinary success in winning the support of younger voters:

Clinton will need to get all those young voters to start supporting her in big numbers. Even if turnout is down this year, Sanders — to a far greater degree than Clinton — seems to hold the key to engaging this constituency. He has somehow conveyed to a whole lot of young people that politics can matter in their lives. And remember, Democrats are betting on a new generation of young voters to give them a demographic edge that lasts beyond 2016.
So you could see Sanders playing a role at the convention; in helping shape the agenda for the fall campaign; and in helping engaging young voters, this time in preparation for the general election. As MSNBC’s Seitz-Wald reports, the Sanders camp sees such a role as a crucial part of his “political revolution.” Even if he doesn’t win.

Sanders is of course fighting to win the presidency, and he believes he has a good chance to do so. But he was an energetic social activist long before he won any elective office, and devoted his time and efforts to civil rights, peace and economic justice going back to his days as a college student. Few contemporary political leaders can match the lifelong commitment to social reforms that permeates his personal narrative.
That commitment will continue, whether he wins or loses the Democratic nomination. And even if he loses, he will still be in good position to recruit young people to join the long-haul struggle for social change and to help organize them into a force for effective action. For this reason, Sargent believes that Sanders will likely campaign all the way to the Democratic convention, where the coalition he has mobilized will be able to lay some of the foundation for a lasting social movement.
Sargent is certainly right. That this seems to be hard for the horserace-focused MSM to grasp is a sad commentary on their limited perspective about social movements. But if Sen. Sanders is able to mobilize a critical mass of young activists to become engaged in political and social change beyond 2016, he will have done a great service for America, regardless of who is elected President in November.

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