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Bernie Sanders: Success requires a ‘political revolution’

Presidential candidate explains why his campaign depends on social media organizing and volunteers

Bernie Sanders has often said that it will require a “political revolution” to make a success out of his presidential campaign. On Wednesday, the Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont senator took steps that he hopes will turn that revolution into a reality.

More than 100,000 Sanders supporters participated in an estimated 3,500 town halls and house parties across the country, where they were greeted by a live webcast with the candidate. Attendees also signed up to volunteer and learned how to otherwise help his campaign.

Speaking to Al Jazeera earlier on Wednesday, Sanders said the most important thing to happen at those events would be communication between various activists and volunteers.

“We need to develop a grassroots movement,” Sanders said. “And the way you do it is people communicate with each other, determine what has to be done, who’s going to be knocking on doors, who’s going to be making the phone call, who’s going to be passing out the literature."

From the moment he announced his candidacy on May 26, Sanders said that supporters have been showing their support, without top-down supervision. “There’s a lot of things that are happening spontaneously, which excites me a whole lot,” Sanders said. “Literally, I read in papers about meetings that took place in some city, some place, that we had nothing to do with organizing."

The slogan “Feel the Bern,” adopted as a hashtag on social media by many Sanders supporters, is one example. “I have no idea where that came from,” said Sanders.

The Sanders campaign appears to be stepping up its outreach to African-Americans, in particular, following an incident two weeks ago in which Black Lives Matter protesters confronted Sanders at a Phoenix town hall and demanded that he address several recent incidents in which unarmed black men and women have died at the hands of police. Sanders instead delivered his previously prepared remarks.

On Saturday, Sanders spoke before the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the group co-founded by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We’ve got a strong, progressive message to the African-American community, which talks about racial justice, which really talks about the need for police reform,” he said. 

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