All those ex-Sanders staffers aren’t letting layoffs get them down. Instead, they’re getting busy. In a move that could ensure Sanders’s political revolution lives on after he concedes the Democratic race to Hillary Clinton, several volunteers and former staffers have launched Brand New Congress, a political-action committee aimed at electing politically progressive candidates to Congress to give the next president (who they’re duty-bound to say will be Sanders) a chance to pass liberal legislation.
Brand New Congress looks past this year’s presidential election to the 2018 midterm elections, when it hopes to — you guessed it — “replace Congress all at once” with a “supermajority that is fighting for jobs, criminal justice reform, and the environment,” Zack Exley, one of the PAC’s founders and a former senior Sanders adviser, told the Huffington Post.
Exley and his co-founders believe the PAC has the potential to achieve its goals thanks to the campaigning and fund-raising methods Sanders has pioneered — the Vermont senator has now raised more money than Clinton for three months in a row, and he’s matched her fund-raising total. “We learned that the grassroots are better qualified to run electoral campaigns than Democratic party operatives,” he said. “They just need to be given the tools, the data, the offices, and the structure to succeed.”
According to Exley, they’ll also need Republicans. He and his fellow volunteers recognize that it’s highly unrealistic to expect to vote in Democrats and independents for every state, so they’ll need the cooperation of GOP candidates who aren’t allergic to Sanders’s policy positions.
Corbin Trent, another former staffer, told the Huffington Post that affiliating themselves with Brand New Congress “will allow Republicans to say ‘Yeah, I’m a Republican, but I believe climate change is real and I don’t believe all Muslims are terrorists.’ It will allow people to think differently in the Republican Party if they want to pull away from the hate-based ideology.”
Sanders enjoyed a surge in momentum after his unexpected victory in Michigan, but Clinton has won five of the last six primaries (including a crucial victory in New York), and her delegate lead is now all but insurmountable. The question surrounding the Sanders campaign has always been whether its ideals would survive beyond election season, and the formation of Brand New Congress hints that they might.
This post has been updated to reflect that Sanders’s unexpected victory occurred in Michigan.