By Carol Bolin-Abrahamson
Co-Founders: Zack Exley, a former Bernie 2016 Senior Advisor on the Digital Organizing Team, is the treasurer of the PAC and works on Brand New Congress as a volunteer. Saikat Chakrabarti was the Director of Organizing Technology with Bernie 2016 – He Built tools for volunteer teams to organize to get Bernie Sanders elected. Involved in conceptualizing and implementing national voter contact programs.
BNC was born during the Nevada Primary in Las Vegas when volunteers of the Bernie Sanders campaign didn’t feel they were being listened to by the National Campaign. In 10 weeks they have 70,000 members, 35,000 Facebook Likes, 4,000 donors and have raised $80,000 to fund their 100-city tour.
GOALS: End incremental change and a do nothing Congress. BNC wants to capitalize on low voter turnout, mobilize youth voters and develop a model that could be used for state and local races. BNC is not affiliated with any political party and is different than Our Revolution, which focuses on individual local, state and federal (national) races. BNC wants to support 400 candidates for house and senate in 2018 who will run on a UNITY PLATFORM. They see themselves working hand-in-hand with Our Revolution in a mutually supporting coalition, however, BNC will run progressive Republicans in traditionally Red States (places where being a Republican is a matter of family lineage/inheritance) places where there are progressives, especially pastors of progressive churches. When candidates do not win their primaries, they will be run as independents.
A good article on BNC can be found at the Nation
My orientation call was with Yolanda Gonzalez who, with other BNC members, was at the People’s Summit in Chicago. Yolanda attended a meeting recently with Our Revolution in Los Angeles and is seeking ways to work in coalition with them.
Yoland says, Social justice begins and ends with our Constitution. It must be the basis for human and civil rights in this country. Unfortunately, our Constitution and American Democracy have been compromised by a Supreme Court that allows political corruption. True democracy depends upon a political system that cannot be swayed by the rich, corporate interests or groups that would deny others their constitutional rights. The time to save American democracy is now. The surest way to save our democracy is by holding our Supreme Court accountable for corrupt constitutional amendments such as Citizens United. We must demand and ensure fair elections and voter rights so that American politics represent and protect all people especially the weakest and most vulnerable.
BNC wants to support 400 candidates for house and senate in 2018 who will run on a UNITY PLATFORM: getting money out of politics, addressing climate change and poverty, ending wars, healthcare for all, trade policies that benefit workers, closing the technology gap between rich and poor (making it more cost effective), transforming the criminal justice system, supporting a jobs/infrastructure program that is more robust than Bernie’s and taking a more aggressive stance on renewable energy.
Many candidates spend 4 hours a day on fundraising and BNC wants candidates to be able to focus on voter contact and ballot access. BNC will make an announcement of the 400 candidates in Washington, D.C. (hopefully with the first batch of candidates being announced as early as March 17, 2017).
BNC wants to recruit candidates who are not professional candidates, who are ordinary citizens with a track record of community service and social justice who have passed up on opportunities to make more money who will be vetted by local teams. These local teams will research and check incumbents platforms and vet existing candidates.
We are looking for candidates who fit these required criteria:
1) They are leaders with a track record of serving their communities — whether through business, government, entrepreneurship, education, etc.
2) They are excellent speakers and thinkers. (We’re looking for folks who will be able to explain policy ideas to big crowds while also being able to work on the nuts and bolts of specific legislation.)
3) They agree with the BNC platform, which is essentially Bernie’s program PLUS a massive economic rebuilding program that will provide great jobs for all.
All the candidates must:
• Be good at what they do
• Be proven servant-leaders to their communities, families, friends
• Have consistently passed on opportunities to sell out, choosing instead to keep serving their people
• Have, in general, never held or sought public office
• Agree on the whole platform
• Have the skills, story and cultural alignment to win their districts
To Nominate a Candidate, use this Google form
BNC has about 150 core volunteers and they are recruiting for:
• Programming, coding, website and/or app development
• Data Entry (enter sign-in sheets and other forms into the database)
• Press (manage media and public relations)
• Writing (provide copy for a variety of formats, ranging from marketing materials to long form communication)
• Graphic Design (create fresh and professional designs for public-facing materials)
• Videography (filming, editing, splicing)
• Process Engineer (work with team leaders to define and measure the effectiveness of processes)
• Travel Coordinator (research and book transportation and overnight accommodations)
• Call Team (talk with supporters and plug them into Brand New Congress)
• Accounting (manage the budget and spreadsheets, etc.)
• NationBuilder Administrator (help administer the system and train others)
• Procurement Specialist (work with vendors, gather quotes, and place orders)
• Events Coordinator (organize and track the details of events and communicate across teams)
• Printing Service/Shop (you own or work at a local or a union shop)
• Social Media (post, moderate, share posts, etc.)
• Venue (you have access to free or low cost venues)