This coming weekend some 3000 union members, progressives and outright socialists will be gathering in Chicago for The People’s Summit. Envisioned as a way to reflect on the impact of the Bernie Sanders campaign while strategizing for the future, it stands out as the first opportunity for the diverse forces who worked together with or for the Sanders campaign to showcase a collective identity outside their preference for a Presidential candidate.
The Summit takes place after the last primary, but before the DNC takes place in Philadelphia. Normally, this would be when a candidate with fewer pledged delegates concedes the race and ends their campaign. But this isn’t a normal election year; Sanders is finding a way between accepting the reality that Clinton is going to be the nominee, with the political opportunities presented by a convention in which he has a significant minority.
That means moving away from the competition for votes, and towards strategies around DNC rules, platform planks, and for all we know, policy priorities for the next administration, a role in the general election, and positions for some of his top staff in Clinton’s campaign. In recent weeks Sanders’ surrogate Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has launched a petition to eliminate superdelegates, other top surrogates were named as members of the DNC Platform Draft committee, and the Bernie grassroots – including elected delegates – are discussing how to carry out the political revolution given the constraints of the Democratic Party and a likely Clinton administration.
The event is backed by National Nurses United together with key allies, mostly from the left – the kind of left that doesn’t usually enjoy the national spotlight that the Bernie campaign has provided. They’ll be listening to movement celebrities, like Rev. William Barbour from Moral Mondays, CNN’s Van Jones, and climate activist and author Naomi Klein. But the luminaries will be vastly outnumbered by activists and organizers from grassroots organizations talking about their past victories, coalition building successes, and prospects for the future.
The People’s Summit won’t be the largest gathering of progressives this summer. But it’s the first to showcase the emerging alliance of forces that have recently shown their mettle as a force to the left of the ‘mainstream’ Democratic Party left. Whatever happens in Chicago, it’s likely that this coalition is here to stay.
For more information about The People’s Summit, visit www.thepeoplessummit.org. Livestream information for many of the presentations will be available on site in real time.
The author is, a co-founder of People for Bernie and participant in the Summit.