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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A group of ex-staffers and volunteers from the Bernie Sanders campaign are looking past the 2016 presidential election and towards the 2018 midterms, aiming to replace the United States Congress with a brand new one – or as close to that as they can get – made up of political newbies and outsiders unbeholden to the donor-class.

Last Monday, these Sanders supporters formed a new Political Action Committee called Brand New Congress, and they’ve already raised nearly $35,000 in donations from around 8,000 pledged members. Around 300 have signed up to work for the campaign.

The group has a three-year plan: Throughout 2016 they will continue recruiting organizers and selecting a set of more than 400 candidates — from across the political spectrum, apparently — who conform to the Sanders brand of political integrity, and by January 2017 they’ll begin a hard push to the midterm elections in November 2018.

Although electing an entirely new Congress seems like a stretch, the massive mobilization we’ve seen of previously disenganged primary voters in 2016 makes just about anything seem feasible, at least on paper.

Brand New Congress doesn’t necessarily seem to want to swap out everyone on Capitol Hill — just those they deem part of the “do nothing” problem that has pushed so many voters to the fringes of their respective parties.

A statement on the group’s website reads, “America needs an honest, accountable Congress to enact Bernie’s program. But trying to win each Congressional seat one-by-one is impossible. So let’s run one campaign to replace Congress all at once…that whips up the same enthusiasm, volunteerism and money as Bernie’s presidential campaign.”

The group is pinning most of its hopes on convincing inexperienced political observers to throw their hats into the ring.

In an interview with The Attitude, a progressive talk show out of New Hampshire, Brand New Congress organizer Stacie Hopkins said “[political] experience is good to have, but it’s not always necessary to have that experience to be a good representative of the people.”

“We hope to be able to provide training to people who have natural leadership qualities,” Hopkins said. “We want to encourage people who may not have thought of running for public office, but who have the qualities that would make them conducive to being good representatives.” Hopkins noted that some congress people “may have gotten into [politics] not to serve the public, but for ego and personal ambitions, for the sake of having power.”

The group also plans on taking some of the fundraising pressure off of its newly-minted politicians, an awkward conflict with Sanders’s pledge not to accept money from outside groups. It’s a similar position to Harvard Law School professor — and one-time Democratic presidential candidate — Lawrence Lessig’s Mayday PAC, a super PAC meant to support candidates in favor of campaign finance reform.

Brand New Congress hasn’t shied away from its commitment to recruit new candidates from both parties. In an interview with the Huffington Post, organizer Zack Exley said, “We want a supermajority in Congress that is fighting for jobs, criminal justice reform and the environment. Most Americans actually want that, and I think we get it by running Dems in blue areas, Republicans in deep red areas, and by running independents wherever we didn’t defeat incumbents.”

Given the current — and longstanding – polarity of our political parties, it’s easy to disregard the potential for successfully finding Democrats and Republicans to run under the same umbrella group. According to a representative from the PAC, they plan on endorsing Republican candidates who back progressive social issues like LGBT and women’s rights — and those Republicans are out there, in and around the pro-privacy, live and let live libertarian camp.

If the real hope of Brand New Congress is to break up congressional gridlock and create an environment where all the issues can be contested on a level playing field, then this might be worth watching. It may be a long shot, but what about Bernie Sanders’s insurgent campaign for president isn’t?

Photo: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a rally at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington March 25, 2016. REUTERS/David Ryder  –  

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40 responses to “Bernie Sanders’ Staffers Want To Replace Congress By 2018”

  1. The lucky one says:

    Focusing on 2018 is wise and the only good reason I’ve seen to consider voting for Clinton. A progressive congress could force Clinton to act more like a liberal and less like a neocon. Trump is a loose cannon who will pursue his own agenda no matter what.

    • Siegfried Heydrich says:

      I’ve been saying that for a while. This election is pre-transitional, setting the stage. ’20 is when the next gen takes over, and it would well behoove them to start getting their ducks in a row so they don’t walk into a buzzsaw in ’20 like Obama did in ’08. Because if Drumpf wins, the place is going to be a shambles by the time we hold another presidential election. The same as ’08 . . .

      • andrea says:

        If Hil wins, this place will be a shambles.

        Fracked, outsourced, sick, and broke.

        He has no other power than his populist drivel, and he’s a supremely stupid man. She is cunning and has corrupt friends all over the country. I’d rather watch her go down in flames, honestly. We can’t afford another MONTH of Clinton policies in office. Trump, we don’t know about.

        But, Bernie is going to win. So don’t stress.

        • Siegfried Heydrich says:

          Oh, sweet Jesu Marimba, another delusional Berniebot. Seriously, it’s getting hard now to tell you from the Drumpfdroids. At least you identified with your last sentence, anyway.

  2. A_Real_Einstein says:

    Hallelujah

    • King of America says:

      “Sure, we couldn’t win a nomination that was stacked in our favour, but THIS time we’ll do something! Send more money!”

  3. charleo1 says:

    As Congress has become the dysfunctional corruptive deadweight at the heart of American democracy. It’s actually a sick, and dying institution. But changing the occupants of the seats would seem a bit like rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. In that it couldn’t hurt, but neither will it save the ship. The situation will become worse until we get the money leveraged extortion out of the system. As long as the candidate with the most money wins 70% of the time. And our elected officials are dependent on big money special interests to obtain the juice required to get elected, or be re-elected. I believe we would be only making ourselves feel better to see all the current crop of bums thrown out. The next would be just as vulnerable, and in a very short time, just as corrupted. And its not only Washington, Our entire Government is for sale to the highest bidder. So, how much juice for your local politicians that set your property taxes, fund your kid’s school, check the drinking water do you have? It really is the money…..

    • A_Real_Einstein says:

      I am not sure you read the article. These new replacements will be funded by the people not corporations or special interest groups. Bernie has demonstrated it can be done. Hillary will nominate a Supreme Court justice who will turn over Citizens United and these Bernie progressives are going to take over. Millions will join this movement. And many like me are going to run in 2018. K. street will be bulldozed.

      • charleo1 says:

        Oh, I read the article alright. I’m just curious how all this will be financed by the public, minus the necessary legislation to prohibit, or limit in some way the money from those corporate special interest groups, heavy hitters, and super packs, and so on. Sure Burnie has a lot of public contributions. But he’s just one candidate. There will be hundreds of state, and local contests, up, and down the ballot each,and every election season. How deep are the public’s pockets? And does public finance really have a chance to become the law of the land? We’ll see. But, I’m concerned, very concerned that we give this issue the gravity, and depth it deserves. So I’m not sure at all just throwing the bums out, even if that were possible over several election cycles which I hear a lot .Or that the solution will be found in a Roberts Supreme Court, is going to be the end all, and be all of this. In fact, I’m fairly sure it won’t.

        • A_Real_Einstein says:

          Things are different now. Social media is replacing corporate media. The whole system is collapsing. The donor class is being rejected as we see the rise of candidates like Trump and Sanders. It is going viral. This organization has 8,000 members since Monday! Yes public financing is coming and 80% of the public agrees that our campaign financing is corrupt and we will start electing candidates who believe in a govt for all th people not just the well connected. The millions of people in this movement are here and growing like wildfire. Don’t let the sites like this and MSNBC fool you. Who even knew what a Superdelegate was or the difference between caucuses and primaries 6 months ago. We are engaged and enraged. Join us, if not for yourself then for the generations that follow. We can accomplish anything and the American public has had enough. May God Bless You.

        • andrea says:

          Hello from the public. And the Bernie Movement: I have already four new Berniecrats in my Facebook feeds, and I am donating to them in small amounts throughout the cycle.

          And we’re all talking about getting people to run . . .

          Those who say a thing cannot be done, shouldn’t interrupt those who are doing it.

        • lk1066 says:

          This is different from the usual “throw the bums out” which focuses on getting rid of existing legislators, NOT on replacing the ones that need to be replaced with GOOD people.

    • plc97477 says:

      The best way to get money out of politics is to make it worthless. No one is going to throw their money away if it is not getting them anything. The only way to make it worthless is by making sure everyone knows the policies and histories of the pols. Talk to others about why you are for a certain politician. Listen to others about why they are for who they follow.

      • charleo1 says:

        To make money worthless is a pretty tall order to understate the point. Surely we can find a more doable solution. For money, well placed, will always bring access, and access will logically lead to influence, and provide advantage not otherwise available to those without the means. It is the way of the World, and has always been so. I think the best we can hope for is to limit the amounts, and insure the money is traceable to it’s sources. Outlawing the so called dark money, and monies coming from foreign sources, perhaps even our enemies. Skewing our democracy to support unwise, or nefarious goals. And right now, it is a remarkable circumstance due to the Citizens United decision, we’re not even able to do even that! Of course money coming from the Communist regime in China is illegal. But we literally have no way to trace money that is donated without a name being required to be attached. ISIS could pour money behind any candidate thru a super pac, call it Christians for religious freedom. But the people behind the pac may remain anonymous, as long as the donation is not paid directly to the candidate in question. Plus, the candidates themselves may not be aware of who is supporting them, or why. So let’s start with the low hanging fruit, and work up from there.

        • plc97477 says:

          That would be the best way to do it but I certainly do not have the power to make it happen. I can vote for people who can try to get it done but as long as their ability to make it into office depends on their money sources they are not going to work to hard to make it a reality. My only power is to do what I can to make sure people vote for candidates that might work to make it a reality.

          • charleo1 says:

            Agreed. But you know the dirty little secret behind the all the fundraising, is the politicians themselves are sick of it. It’s 4-5 hours everyday, day in, and day out. It’s demeaning, disgraceful, and beneath the offices to which they were elected. And those are their words. And the better news yet, is this is not a partisan view. Not just coming from the Left today, but from both sides of the isle. There is legislation proposed by a Republican Congressman now running for reelection in Florida, I caught recently on 60 Minutes. That would be a great start in taking back the people’s voice from the mega donors. Right now it’s going nowhere, but, the issue definitely has legs as they say. And what you’re talking about, a lot of other people are beginning to talk about. So things are a bit more hopeful than in the days when I talked to a Rightie, they would tell me things like heck, the money is just a Leftist thing, we’re Capitalists after all. I don’t get that anymore.

          • dpaano says:

            Charleo….I saw the same 60 Minutes show, and I was all for the legislation. If we want to keep our government of the people, by the people and for the people, we need to get the 1% from putting in all the money and literally “buying” our government! As it stands now, unless you’re a millionaire, you have no say in who gets elected…..that’s not the way the Founding Fathers planned it!

          • charleo1 says:

            Hopefully, finally at last the verdict is in that the current pay to play system is wrecking democracy in all kinds of ways. No more so than the lack of faith, and credibility it’s engendering among a huge majority of the People. That’s People with a capital, ‘P.” And when large majorities of a nation’s citizens no longer trust their government at any level to work on their behalf, in their best interests, which is the case today. I think we start to see populous incompetent charlatans, and brazen opportunists like Trump rising to power. It is, or rather Trump in particular is, a symptom of a sickened, and in trouble system of governance. That has itself been forced into incompetent dysfunction, and intrinsic paralyzation, by the sheer numbers of masters, and their diverse agendas thru their donations, it is then obliged to serve. Trump’s attraction to many, is he provides the illusion of being outside the corruption, and refreshingly immune to it. By claiming to refuse the payola, and presenting himself as uniquely free to speak the unvarnished, truth, while promising to take their side. It has proved so intoxicating to so many people, desperate for true democracy, and hungry for change. They look at present day Washington, and see a Congress that is deadlocked. And view Trump as a way to fight back against a present gov. they no longer trust. And here is the danger we are seeing. They are not listening to, nor do they seem to care about the utter insanity the demagogue is spewing, if in their estimation he is spewing it on their behalf. Yes, the Founders I think would be appalled and be very concerned. Recognizing as they do, how truly fragile democracies can be.

          • dpaano says:

            The really sad part is that most of the people who are so enamored with Trump don’t seem to realize that about 90% of what he’s saying he’s going to do will NOT be possible either because it’s unconstitutional or because Congress will NOT allow it. And, they also don’t seem to realize that the government is screwed up not because of President Obama’s actions but because the House voted from Day One not to support anything that President Obama put forth, which caused a plethora of blockages to what could have been GOOD things for the Middle Class. They want to believe the GOP when they say that the president has not done anything, but the people fail to understand that it was NOT the president that failed. This has been the WORSE Congress in years as far as getting anything done…..except for naming a couple of post offices, they have done nothing of any importance except to spend our hard-earned taxpayer money trying to repeal Obamacare (which 80%+ of the American public want to keep with minor “fixes”), investigating Benghazi, and anything else they can do to keep people’s minds off the REALl fact that they have been useless and not worth the money we pay them to do a job they haven’t been doing! I just wish people would realize what the GOP has been doing, realize the lies and scare tactics they have been using against the current administration, and vote accordingly. If they did, Trump would not have a chance!
            Additionally, I hope they realize that Trump is going to have to use PAC money once he’s designated as the Republican nominee, so he won’t be self-sponsored any longer. He hasn’t actually been paying for all of his campaigning to begin with….most of the money was “borrowed” from his foundation, which receives money from various sources. He’s just another “bought and paid for” candidate despite everything he says. And, the fact that he refuses to put forth his income tax reports means that he has something he wants to hide, which would make me VERY suspicious of his candidacy. Why people on his side don’t understand that is beyond me….but, then again, I’m an informed individual and I don’t tend to believe everything that I read about or hear…..I do my research.

  4. King of America says:

    Grifters gotta grift.

  5. Siegfried Heydrich says:

    It’s a nice idea, but they’d do better to concentrate on breaking the stranglehold the GOP has on Congress right now. Because if they don’t, they’re going to be totally screwed going into ’18 and ’20 elections.

    This is something that’s late in coming, though, and is one of the weaknesses on the left, they simply haven’t put much effort into recruitment and mentoring of new talent. But hey, better late than never . . .

    • Dominick Vila says:

      A cursory look at the USA political map would suggest that taking back Congress is easier said than done. There are more red states, Republican Governors, and State legislatures controlled by the GOP, than there are blue states. I live in a red district, where a “D” behind a candidate’s name is a kiss of death.

      • Siegfried Heydrich says:

        I think that the Senate will almost surely flip blue, and the House will largely depend on how damaging Drumpf is to the downticket races. At this point, I’d say that taking the house is unlikely, though I think the GOP majority will be drastically reduced.

        But OTOH, if Drumpf continues on his current trajectory, hey, it could happen. The Cook report has been shifting a lot of races towards the dems, and what was literally unthinkable in january looks like a possibility in a few months. Though the dems have been very lax about recruitment, though, which will hurt them in this cycle. This is why the effort described above is good news, if a bit overdue.

        The problem the GOP has is that the demographic tide is now flowing strongly against them. The hispanics are now VERY energized and flexing their muscle at the same time the white baby boomers are leaving the field, and the republicans have alienated them utterly. The next gen regards that GOP with particular loathing. The grip that the conservatives had on power will fade over the next few cycles simply because the next gen isn’t buying the BS. And without reinforcements or reform, the GOP is doomed to eventual irrelevancy.

        Look for some serious changes if/when Drumpf loses – iHeart communications (which owns most of the talk radio stations and many of the RW radio shows) is going bankrupt, and the demographic that Fox News relies upon for its ratings is aging out fast. With the guts ripped out of the GOP, and the conservative base having repudiated their conservatism, this time next year there’ll be a whole different landscape. For better or worse . . .

      • andrea says:

        We’re reaching a new era in politics where either party is viewed as sellout and incompetent.

        We’ll see.

        • Dominick Vila says:

          My take is that competence, maturity, qualifications, a relevant record, and a realistic vision have become liabilities in a world where make believe, immaturity, insults, threats, and narcissism are viewed as evidence of a can do attitude. That is what makes this election so unpredictable, and what should concern every sane American.

      • Christina J says:

        I live in a red state as well (Tennessee) and I,honestly, get tired of it being a foregone conclusion that my state, as well as others, will only ever be Republican. Most of the people I’ve encountered here have no real understanding of how bad Republicans actually are for them. These cunning, yet evil, GOP’ers count on the same old myth being perpetrated-Democrats are “baby killers” who want to take away their guns. I really believe if some effort was made at educating these sad and misinformed folks it would be possible to turn, at least a few of these states, blue. Poverty abounds here, where I live, in Southeastern Tennessee, and has for some time. These “good ole boys” have counted on nobody challenging them (much) and misinformation to continue to be spread. They aren’t bad people here really. They just don’t know any better. Yes, there is some racism, sadly. Lack of decent educations is partly to blame. But, maybe, if they understood that these vile, lying Republicans couldn’t care less about them, many would, either vote at all or vote for a party that better served their interests. I know I’ve converted several people myself just by having a conversation with them.

  6. Jeph Welch says:

    A good start and project 🙂

  7. Robyn Ryan says:

    Start local.

  8. Lynda Groom says:

    Must we wait until 2018? There is an election in six months, so lets get out the democratic and independent vote and take back our Congress from the radicals. Yeah I know the math does not jive, but one can hope.

  9. Nils Palsson says:

    I am one of these Bernie-aligned candidates, currently on the ballot in the June 7th CA Primary against a big-money establishment Dem. I stand with our people and planet, and we are going to win!
    @NIPalsson
    http://www.peoplesvictory.us
    https://www.facebook.com/NilsForCongress/
    https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/nils

    • Feliciajgoodlett1 says:

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  10. Mark Meyers says:

    Try this… http://represent.us
    And find the state legislatures.

  11. dpaano says:

    Interesting concept!

  12. lk1066 says:

    I think it’s a mistake to try to change both parties at once. A few good Rs won’t have any impact as long as the Rs have the majority. It would make a difference if the Ds were in control, but even good Rs won’t have a bill heard or have a chance to vote on a good bill as long as the R party controls what bills make it to the floor… The most they can do is damage control..We don’t live in a town meeting democracy where everyone is heard, everyone can vote on everything.

    We need to make the changes within the Democratic party—the same way but in the opposite direction as the Tea Party. Once the progressive wing is in charge, we can start working on Rs.

    • Gail Williams says:

      What!!! Help Republican Puppet Party when there are millions or billions spent every year to nuke the Democrats!!!

  13. Box says:

    For anyone who loves the Constitution this is awful news. Sanders recruitment of “those sharing his brand of political integrity” are Socialists and Communists who have already stated the Constitution and God must die. In other words, the goal is to pick up the pace of Obamas fundamental change so that Congress becomes a Communist Congress and the USA dies once and for all. Of course, expect a fight, true patriots hear the call, that can be promised and delivered.

  14. Marv Nochowitz says:

    Someone has to provide the money for the candidates. They are beholding to whoever it is. That is no different then the present system

  15. Marv Nochowitz says:

    If you want any chance of this to work, you better hope that Trump doesn’t become president. And you know what that means you have to do

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