The People for Bernie Sanders

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The People for Bernie Sanders
TypeGrassroots movement
PurposeProgressive US politics
Over 1 million supporters[1]
Charles Lenchner
Winnie Wong
WebsitePeople for Bernie website
People for Bernie Facebook

The People for Bernie Sanders (also known as People for Bernie) is a grassroots movement which arose to support the candidacy of Bernie Sanders during the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign. People for Bernie, independent from the official campaign and largely organized via social media, grew to over 1 million followers on Facebook. Founded by Occupy Wall Street participants, People for Bernie Sanders became a major organizing force for progressive figures during the 2016 presidential campaign, responsible for coining the hashtag #feelthebern.[2] People for Bernie is closely linked to other progressive groups like the National Nurses United and Democratic Socialists of America.


People for Bernie was founded in early 2015 by Charles Lenchner and Winnie Wong, several months before the official campaign announcement on April 30, 2015.[3] Their strategy and goals were heavily influenced by lessons learned during Occupy Wall Street, particularly the need for activist groups to demonstrate impact on electoral politics[4] Lenchner was a founder of Ready for Warren, a grassroots movement that aimed to convince Elizabeth Warren to run for president in 2016, and eventually endorsed Bernie Sanders. Many early supporters of People for Bernie emerged from the same group.[5] People for Bernie officially launched with an open letter released the same day that Bernie Sanders declared his candidacy for President. The letter was co-signed by notable representatives from progressive groups like Occupy Wall Street, Progressive Democrats of America, Coffee Party USA, Jacobin magazine, and Democratic Socialists of America.[6] Around the same time, People for Bernie created a number of constituency groups to support the Sanders' candidacy, notably Millennials for Bernie Sanders. These groups were entirely volunteer-run with little oversight from the main group. Activists including Moumita Ahmed (Millennials for Bernie Sanders), Stan L. Williams (African-Americans for Bernie), and Kat Brezler (National Digital Director) in key leadership roles.[7][8]


2016 primary[edit]

Early in the 2016 primary campaign, People for Bernie helped mobilize over 100,000 people in house parties and grassroots events across the country.[9] Building on the success of #feelthebern, People for Bernie began networking with groups around the country to build support for Sanders' candidacy, organizing conference calls and social media collaborations.[10]

Organizers Charles Lenchner, Kat Brezler, and Moumita Ahmed were selected as Sanders delegates at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.[11] Other People for Bernie supporters became formally involved the Sanders campaign, including Max Cotterill who worked on Sanders' Digital Organizing team[12] and Shana East who went on to become the Illinois Digital and Volunteer Coordinator.[13] The deepening relationship between the Sanders campaign and People for Bernie (and other similar groups) was credited with helping Bernie Sanders break small-donor fundraising records.[14]

People's Summit[edit]

In June 2016, The People for Bernie Sanders was instrumental, together with National Nurses United, in organizing the People's Summit in Chicago. This was the first time that Sanders supporters from across the country came together to coordinate efforts.[15][16] National Nurses United also funded People for Bernie, through a PAC called Progressive Kick, to expand their social media efforts.[17]

2016 general election[edit]

The People for Bernie Sanders never made a formal endorsement of Hillary Clinton, as Bernie Sanders did on July 12, 2016. The movement had as members Bernie Sanders supporters who later campaigned actively for Hillary Clinton, as well as Bernie Sanders supporters who actively opposed her. The latter were sometimes known as the "Bernie or Bust" movement.[18] It was widely recognized that social media played much more significant role during the 2016 election than in any previous election (see: Social media in the United States presidential election, 2016).


After the November 8, 2016 election, The People for Bernie Sanders began working with other progressive groups to organize against President-elect Trump. Co-founder Winnie Wong helped organize the Women's March on Washington, and People for Bernie collaborated with Fight for 15, supporters of single-payer healthcare, environmental activists like, and immigrants rights groups, among a number of other local groups.[19] People for Bernie also publicly supported Keith Ellison for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.[20]

On November 8, 2017, Winnie Wong reportedly refused to participate in a European United Left–Nordic Green Left panel at the European Parliament in Brussels because CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou had been invited to join it.[21] Kiriakou spent two-and-a-half years in prison for revealing the use of waterboarding. According to Kiriakou, Wong did not want to appear with him because he hosted a radio show on the Sputnik network, and the organizers of the panel removed him.[22] Kiriakou did participate in a later panel.[23]

Decentralized organizing model[edit]

The People for Bernie Sanders claims a decentralized organizing model that descends from the Occupy Movement. Their core operating principle is a "permission machine:" volunteers bring ideas to the group, and the group helps them achieve their goals without any centralized decision making process.[24]


  1. ^ "Inside the Grassroots Group that wants America to Feel the Bern", 'Bloomberg', July 1, 2015
  2. ^ "Occupy Wall Street rises up for Sanders", 'CNN', April 13, 2016
  3. ^ "Inside the Grassroots Group that wants America to Feel the Bern", 'Bloomberg', July 1, 2015
  4. ^ "Bernie Sanders' Grassroots Army is Passionate. But can they get organized?", 'The New Republic, July 14, 2015
  5. ^ "Ready for Warren endorses Sanders", 'The Hill', June 19, 2015
  6. ^ "We Are People for Bernie", "Daily Kos", May 2, 2015
  7. ^ "Look at all these Berniebros", "Buzzfeed Community", February 1, 2016
  8. ^ "Occupy Movement protesters fight on - now in support of Bernie Sander", "Los Angeles Times", February 1, 2016
  9. ^ "Taos Chapter of 'People for Bernie' meet up draws overflow crowd, 'Live Taos, August 13, 2015
  10. ^ "Thousands of Sanders supporters gather in Chicago to ask 'Now What?'", "Washington Post", June 17, 2016
  11. ^ "New York State Democratic Presidential Primary Results, by county", "New York State Board of Elections", April 19, 2016
  12. ^ "Millennial Leaders endorse Keith Ellison for DNC Chair", "Medium", February 22, 2017
  13. ^ "We Are People for Bernie", "Portside", April 30, 2015
  14. ^ "Bernie Sanders' Big Money", "The Atlantic", March 1, 2016
  15. ^ "Sanders allies plot meeting to discuss future of the movement", 'MSNBC', April 21, 2016
  16. ^ "NNU: All-Star Lineup Gathers for Chicago People's Summit June 17-19", "PR Newswire", June 10, 2016
  17. ^ "Inside the pro-Sanders groups taking on Clinton's powerhouse allies", "Washington Post", January 27, 2016
  18. ^ "Among the Pure at 'Bernie or Bust'", 'The Atlantic', July 27, 2016
  19. ^ "Progressive Politics after Bernie", "The American Prospect", September 29, 2016
  20. ^ "Top Democrats behind Progressive Keith Ellison for party chair", "ABC News", Nov 11, 2016
  21. ^ "First Year of the Trump Presidency – The Challenges & Future for Progressive Forces", "GUE/NGL", October 13, 2017
  22. ^ "‘Tainted by association’: CIA whistleblower says progressives kicked him off EU panel", "RT", November 11, 2017
  23. ^ "First Year of the Trump Presidency – The Challenges & Future for Progressive Forces", "GUE/NGL", November 8, 2017
  24. ^ "Inside the Grassroots Group that wants America to Feel the Bern", 'Bloomberg', July 1, 2015

External links[edit]