Because what we’ve done so far clearly hasn’t worked, and Bernie Sanders gives us an opportunity to do something better (which Trump and Walker motivate seizing). The Sanders campaign identified a very large group of people in Wisconsin who share our values. He won last year’s primary in 71 of 72 counties, and lost only narrowly in the 72nd (Milwaukee). Our Revolution (OR), the organization he helped set up after his presidential campaign ended, is willing to share use of his list of 100,000+ Wisconsin activists and supporters with OWR. We think this gives us a good start in building an independent (nonpartisan, indeed “transpartisan”) political organization to remake Wisconsin government for democracy — at all levels of government, all over the state. That requires organization.
OWR will be an election- and governing-focused, democratic mass-membership organization, with a member-ratified “People’s Platform” for change in Wisconsin. It will endorse candidates (some new, some incumbent) based on their loyalty to that platform; publicize and explain its support through intensive canvassing and other activity with voters; and help our endorsed candidates who win office to keep their commitments once in office. It will work in Wisconsin’s large number of nonpartisan local elections as well as its partisan ones. It will be governed by its members. It will have a statewide brand and staffing, but operate largely through local chapters. It will make its biggest organizational investments in developing an active, informed, organized membership — the key to unlocking our political future.
There’s no other organization in Wisconsin with this ambition, governance structure, and focus. That’s why we’ve started a new one. But we don’t want to compete with existing small-d democratic organizations and don’t ask people active in them to leave them for us. Instead, we invite all of them, and their members, and any other citizens who share our democratic values, to join us as their electoral arm. Since OWR’s members will govern OWR, this invitation is not a power-grab but a power-give. We are simply proposing that Wisconsinites who share our concern about undemocratic trends in the state act together to get something of great importance to us all: the people’s control of our government. Those who share our democratic convictions currently have little political power. That’s because we’re not doing much together. We’re organizationally divided. But this power-deficit is fixable if we unite in a competent, democratic, determined organization big enough to find on a political map.