Picture this: you’re a national candidate running for president with a massive fundraising and organizing network. Might as well use that power for some good shit along the way! Per HuffPost:
In an unusual move for a presidential candidate, the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sent out targeted text messages and emails to its supporters in California a day ahead of the strike, urging them to join workers as they rallied against the university system in a labor dispute.
“Tens of thousands of workers in the University of California system are standing up this Thursday to stop the outsourcing and privatization of union jobs,” the email said. “We are hoping you can join these workers tomorrow.”
The note included an RSVP link and an address for a local picket.
As HuffPo also notes, it’s pretty common for pro-labor candidates to show face on picket lines during a primary season. It’s less common for them to directly help organize a strike.
The Sanders campaign then recruited 12 college student leaders, who relayed information from union organizers to Sanders supporters on their campuses. They also sent texts to supporters in their database who live near planned picket lines.
Although it’s impossible to say what impact the outreach had, the Sanders campaign says 1,000 people responded with interest or committed to go to a protest.
The one-day strike took place at 10 college campuses and five hospital centers across the state. The strikers included custodians and food service workers, as well as a range of hospital employees. The workers are represented by AFSCME and the University Professional and Technical Employees-CWA.
This should become standard for every Democrat running for president. Don’t just show up at picket lines, build them. Don’t just tweet about causes, directly fundraise for them, which HuffPost notes that Kamala Harris has also done, raising some $160k for abortion groups after the passage of Alabama’s disastrous anti-abortion legislation. Every candidate should be doing this. Beto O’Rourke could “reboot” his campaign a whole lot easier if he took whatever network he has left and threw it behind organizing direct actions at the border or fundraising for refugee rights’ organizations.
There’s absolutely no point in waiting until 2020 to use the Democratic candidates’ combined political influence to actually get shit done; there’s already plenty of shit to do, and ways to do it, in the meantime.