On Eve of Election, Progressives Ready to 'Transform American Politics'

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On Eve of Election, Progressives Ready to 'Transform American Politics'

What Our Revolution and its allies really want 'is to build power—and use that power to press for change.'

"This is a process that doesn't end on November 8," said Shannon Jackson, executive director of Our Revolution. "We're going to work to keep people engaged, so we'll see a new generation of Bernie-crats in cycles to come." (Photo: Alexander Jonesi/cc/flickr)

"This is a process that doesn't end on November 8," said Shannon Jackson, executive director of Our Revolution. "We're going to work to keep people engaged, so we'll see a new generation of Bernie-crats in cycles to come." (Photo: Alexander Jonesi/cc/flickr)

On the eve of the U.S. election, one legacy of a highly contentious season is a newly-energized progressive base that is not only mobilized to vote but is itself looking to upset corporate politics nationwide.

Much of the credit for the excitement around down-ticket Democrats and progressive ballot measures is given to Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose presidential campaign challenged the dominant rhetoric from both political parties and brought many of the issues voters care about to the national stage.

"The senator taught us that if we want things to change, if we want to fight against the status quo, we have to start at the grassroots level," Shannon Jackson, executive director of the Sanders campaign offshoot Our Revolution, told ABC News.

"This is a process that doesn't end on November 8," Jackson continued. "We're going to work to keep people engaged, so we'll see a new generation of Bernie-crats in cycles to come."

According to the group, more than 15,000 were inspired to sign up and get information about how they may run for office after Sanders issued a call to that effect over the summer.

Of those thousands, 104 have now been vetted and backed by Our Revolution.

"Fifty of our candidates are challenging Republicans or Democrats who receive money from corporate interests, an additional 30 are running for open seats. Only about 20 percent of those in our list of endorsements are incumbent. The other 80 percent of candidates are mostly part of the pool of people who decided to run because of Bernie," staffer Erika Andiola told ABC.

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Jackson noted that those candidates "didn't have to be recruited, they were inspired by his message and the progressive values of the political revolution."

"This is a long term fight," Andiola added, "and we will continue to work with and train those who are still motivated to run on Bernie's platform for local and federal seats."

In an email sent Monday, Our Revolution told its members Tuesday's election is a "big day for our movement" and that "by casting our votes for bold progressive candidates, we will be one step closer to transforming American politics."  

In addition to backing candidates for congress and state legislatures, the group has also voiced support, or in some cases opposition, to dozens of state ballot initiatives nationwide.  

However, as D.D. Guttenplan reports for The Nation on Monday, the group's "enthusiasm for local issues and candidates with deep local roots doesn't mean a withdrawal from the national stage."  

What Our Revolution and its allies really want, he explained, "is to build power—and use that power to press for change."

Although Sanders and other progressive leaders are backing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for president, they have vowed that there will be no honeymoon should she be elected president before they begin to push her on campaign promises, as well as other brewing political flashpoints.

One example, Guttenplan notes, would be the ongoing battle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, which activists has pressed Clinton to take a firm stance against. Another would be holding her feet to the fire on the TransPacific Partnership (TPP).  "[Clinton's] been silent  [on TPP] since the primary," Our Revolution's Jackson told Guttenplan. "And—just like the pipeline—she needs to take a stand."

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