GUEST COLUMN: Bernie’s campaign was just the beginning
Editor's note: Evan Wittenbach is the the co-founder of Central Michigan University's Students for Bernie Sanders group and a key operative in Sanders' new Our Revolution campaign.
When I co-founded Students for Bernie Sanders in October 2015, I could not have imagined the success we would have. My goal for the group was simply to distribute flyers and put up posters informing students about Sanders’ platform and encouraging them to vote.
Through the hard work of my fellow students and community members, we were able to accomplish so much more.
We hosted debate viewing parties that had at least 30 and at most 80 people in attendance. Coordinating closely with Mid-Michigan for Bernie Sanders, we established a canvassing operation in Mount Pleasant in just four weeks. In the week leading up to the primary, our volunteer force of mostly students knocked on nearly 2,200 doors.
Sanders won Michigan, and in Isabella County, he beat Hillary Clinton by 22.5 percent, the highest margin in the state. I’m very proud to have been a part of that victory.
The end result of the Democratic primary was not what we hoped for. But, though Bernie lost the nomination contest, he succeeded in many other ways. Sanders changed the political conversation in America, placing issues such as income inequality and the student debt crisis in the mainstream.
Sanders also brought many young people into the political process. Many of the students I have worked with in the past year felt disillusioned by politics, but Bernie inspired them to get involved.
These victories, both in Mount Pleasant and nationally, are significant. They show that the ideas presented by the Sanders campaign resonate with the American people, particularly among people under 30 years old, a group that voted for Sanders more than any other candidate.
With this in mind, key members of the Sanders campaign have launched Our Revolution, an organization dedicated to getting progressives elected to offices including local school board and the U.S. Senate. To continue the work started by the Sanders campaign.
A few weeks ago, myself and other Sanders activists met to establish a new grassroots group to further the goals of Our Revolution. Like Bernie said time and time again: “Change never comes from the top-down; it comes from the bottom-up.”
In the next few months, look for us registering students to vote and volunteering for the campaigns of local progressives like Bryan Mielke. After the general election in November, we will focus on issues, campaigns and getting students involved in the political process.
This past year has been life-changing, and I’m astounded by what can be accomplished when ordinary people stand together and fight for what they believe in.
I hope you’ll join us, too.