Bernie Sanders is the only U.S. Senator I've ever donated money to. It was years back and don't remember the issue that promoted me to do it. Probably his stance on bailing out Wall Street. As one friend pointed out, any 10 issues could turn a progressive into an ardent Sanders supporter.
My donation was tiny, but I've been on Sanders' mailing list since.
When folks were hoping Elizabeth Warren would run for president, I was excited. And when Sanders actually declared, I immediately knew I had a candidate.
In 2009, I ran for House of Representatives in Northern California. I was compelled to do so by a burning passion for a new society that represented the needs of all Americans, not just those rich enough to pay for lobbyists and politicians. I didn't really know what I was doing (really didn't know what I was doing), but I knew I needed to do something. I remember canvassing at a fair in Solano - a guy says to me, Why would you want to go up there to Washington with all that corruption? I said, How can I look at all that and now want to, need to try and do something about it? That was a common conversation during the five months of my run.
I also volunteered for Barack Obama's first presidential run. Sanders inspires me even more. He's got an incredible record of being right for the left. He gives me hope for the Democratic party. He understands that to get anything done in Washington, he must build and sustain a people's movement.
Six years later, I know a lot that I didn't then. And social technologies have come a long way, too. It's easier to raise money online. It's easier to organize. NationBuilder, a company I spent four years helping build, has been part of that. Last month I reached out to two independent grassroots Sanders groups to learn whether they could use my help with their NationBuilder strategy. I found out about Bernspark, a new tool for funding grassroots projects supporting Sanders.
Sanders supporters are using the internet to take grassroots organizing to a new level, and as a Californian who's primary vote doesn't count for much in the Democratic primary, I'm happy to donate my strategy firm's effort to promoting this new tool. I'm excited to see what we can do when crowdfunding meets grassroots activism.
If you have a grassroots project that could use funding, check out the Bernspark user guide we put together:
Bernspark User Guide (Dropbox PDF)
Join in by donating to a project or two, and please promote individual projects through social media and email.
We get the government we're willing to work for.