News & Politics

Bernie Sanders Draws Army of 100,000 Volunteers to First Nationwide Organizing Event

And this is from a man who is not taking corporate PAC money and is relying on small donors.

Over 100,000 people came together for Bernie Sanders' first nationwide organizing event on Wednesday. Sanders spoke to this army of volunteers via a video livestream, telling them they are needed if he is to overcome the power of what he calls the “billionaire class” – the tight group of the wealthy and corporations that own both the economy and political system.

Sanders, unlike his opponents, is not cultivating a super PAC. He's not taking corporate PAC money, and he is relying on small donors; 81 percent of his donations in the first quarter were from people giving less than $200.

This puts him at a huge monetary disadvantage. Two billionaire brothers in Texas gave a pro-Ted Cruz super PAC $15 million, as much money as Sanders has raised in his whole campaign. But Sanders has a plan to make up the difference: people power.

At an event I attended in East Cobb County – the backyard of some of the nation's GOP power elite, such as Newt Gingrich, Tom Price, and Bob Barr – scores of people crowded into a tavern called Varner's.

“I've been a lifelong Republican, worked in Republican government 35 years,” explained one attendee who said Bernie Sanders has won her over. A common refrain at the meeting was shock and surprise that there were so many progressives in this supposedly conservative part of Georgia. But there were dozens of events across the state. One attendee at a nearby meeting in Acworth, Georgia, reported 80 attendees. Closer to Atlanta, 150 packed into a local Teamsters hall to watch the Bernie Sanders address.

There were numerous meetings just like this all over America, ranging from left-wing hotbeds like Brooklyn, New York to “a town in the Alaskan wilderness of about 1,000 residents.”

The Sanders campaign has organized itself around the principle that organizing people is the only way to take on organized money. With the massive crowds the candidate is drawing at every stop and the enormous volunteer base the campaign has gathered, it looks like they will get a chance to test their theory.

Zaid Jilani is an AlterNet staff writer. Follow @zaidjilani on Twitter.

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