WASHINGTON — Now that he’s lost his White House bid, Sen. Bernie Sanders and his aides are taking steps to institutionalize his “political revolution,” and Coram social worker and teacher Rachel Seiler said she already has signed up.
Seiler, 39, a member of the grass-roots group Long Island for Bernie Sanders, said she just joined a new organization, Our Revolution, which a former Sanders staffer is heading, to groom and fund progressive candidates for elective offices, from school board to Congress. Its website now only solicits donations.
“This is brand new. It’s emerging. It’s evolving as we speak,” Seiler said in a telephone interview. “It’s going to be a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization and its purpose will be to identify folks and give them the financial support they need to run for office.”
Seiler was the only one of a half dozen Long Island Sanders supporters who responded to a query the day after Democrats nominated Clinton as their presidential candidate Tuesday.
In recent years, the left and notably the Occupy Wall Street movement have not made the transition from protest to electoral political activism as effectively as the conservative tea party movement did in the past five or six years. The Republican-led state legislatures and Congress are prime examples.
As a presidential hopeful, Sanders created a groundswell of support that exceeded initial expectations, but still fell short of upending Clinton. After defeats, many political movements fade with the candidates who led them.
But Sanders said he intends to foster the establishment of organizations “to advance the progressive agenda that we believe in and to elect like-minded candidates at the federal, state and local levels who are committed to accomplishing our goals.”
Among them are Our Revolution as well the still-forming Sanders Institute to study and explain income inequality and poverty, and the grass roots Brand New Congress, Seiler said.
Seiler said she intends to be one of the Sanders inspired candidates. “My plan is to become politically active,” she said.
She said she aims to get involved in the Suffolk County Democratic Committee and possibly run for local office in 2018 or 2020.
Meanwhile, Seiler acknowledged that many Sanders backers still haven’t decided whether to vote for Clinton, despite Sanders’ endorsement. Many “are feeling pretty dejected and kind of angry,” she said, and some will vote for the Green Party’s Jill Stein.
But not her.
“I am following Bernie’s lead,” Seiler said. “I believe Hillary Clinton represents a much more forward-moving future for us than Donald Trump does.” Besides, she said, “I’m terrified of a Trump presidency.”