In an election year characterized by dark horse candidates, his was perhaps the most surprising success story of all: An avuncular democratic socialist from Vermont with little name recognition outside progressive circles, who gave his party's presumptive nominee a marathon-length run for her money by tacking hard to the left, rather than playing safe in the political center. But with the top of the ticket sewn up, and his support thrown behind Hillary Clinton, the question surrounding Bernie Sanders has changed from "Can he win?" to "What's he going to do now?"
As it turns out, he's planning to do quite a bit.
In an interview with USA Today published Friday, Sanders detailed plans to launch a series of progressive organizations aimed at putting his brand of politics into the core of the Democratic party—and beyond.
"The goal here is to do what I think the Democratic establishment has not been very effective in doing," Sanders explained. "And that is at the grassroots level, encourage people to get involved, give them the tools they need to win, help them financially."
To achieve that goal, Sanders will reportedly create three separate groups, each with its own specific focus. One is committed to raising awareness around specific issues; another to training organizers and advocates for actual campaigning; and a third to on advertising. He will also be publishing a book, entitled Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, set to be released just after the November general election. Part campaign-diary, part preview, the book is described by publisher Thomas Dunne Books as "an inside account of this extraordinary campaign and […] a blueprint for future political action. Its message: the fight has just begun."
As it happens, that "fight" may very well be more than just a bland book blurb. According to USA Today, Sanders has set his sight on over 100 campaigns around the country, ranging from municipal contests, all the way up to congressional races, which he will support—among them, a primary challenge for the house seat occupied by Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, with whom Sanders clashed over the course of his campaign. And of course, as he told a cheering New Hampshire crowd on Tuesday, Sanders will throw his hard-earned political clout behind Hillary Clinton, as well.
In a way, Sanders' shift from office-seeker to structural change-maker has been some time in the making. Since essentially losing the race for delegates in early June, Sanders and his allies have increasingly set their sights on the Democratic platform, pushing it to the left on issues like education, health care, and climate change. In a statement put out by the Sanders camp, the senator attributed that progressive shift to the grassroots supporters he'd cultivated during his campaign, calling the platform "the most progressive" in the party's history.
And it's not just the Democratic party Sanders is interested in supporting. As he told USA Today: "If you have some strong independents who would like to run, it would be my inclination to support them."
His campaign for the White House may be at its end, but Bernie Sanders' campaign to reshape the way American politics works appears to be only just beginning.