Berners Against Delegate Supression & Censorship
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Dear Senator Sanders and the Bernie 2020 Campaign,
Upon reading the Bernie 2020 campaign’s “Social Media Policy,” the “Delegate Code of Conduct,” and the “Non-Disclosure Agreement” for Bernie 2020 delegates, we regret to inform you that we will not support these efforts put out by you and your campaign to muzzle the delegates representing Bernie voters at your convention. We Bernie Sanders supporters stand in opposition to this outright breach of freedom of speech and censorship being pushed on prospective Bernie 2020 delegates and delegate candidates.
Treating national political party delegates like employees is undemocratic and shatters all progressive values that you and your campaign had espoused. It appears you are embarking on a slippery slope toward authoritarian tactics. Indeed, we would expect such contracts and threats to remove convention credentials from the Biden campaign, not yours. In 2016, delegates representing the Bernie voters spoke freely to the press when the press approached them. They shared their views and were not silenced for having their individual perspectives.
One of the roles of the delegation is to develop progressive policy that helps move our progressive platform forward. We do not simply serve as warm bodies at the convention, which is now looking more and more like another coronation -- this time a virtual one. These contracts are degrading to delegates and our movement, delegates who exhibited loyalty and hard work in the Bernie Sanders movement for years. With the appearance of these contracts, the objective of the campaign in relation to the convention appears to not be to ensure passage of our progressive platform, but rather to capitulate to the DNC, starting with the selection of delegates who are more loyal to party than policy, and ending with censoring any sort of opposition.
In the “Social Media” contract, the campaign encourages delegates to post only “campaign-approved content” on social media, not engage in “adversarial conversation” and tells delegates to “refrain from making negative statements about other candidates, party leaders, campaigns, campaign staffers, supporters, news organizations or journalists.” Delegates cannot promote Bernie events on their social media unless the Bernie campaign first publicizes details. Considering how the campaign clamped down on the grassroots collaboration, delegates that sign such an agreement are now contractually muzzled when conversing with politicaly-minded opponents and when bringing out supporters to events. This is counter-productive and one of the many reasons why the campaign failed. We need to bring people in, even those who disagree with us, by being honest and speaking truth to power. We should not censor our dedicated and intelligent delegates from genuine, political conscience, That is the opposite of progressivism.
“The Delegate Code of Conduct”forbids delegates from engaging with the media, forbids them from being disrespectful to other delegates, superdelegates, party and elected leaders and electeds, and makes them “follow all instructions from the Campaign” and “stay focused on on the “mission and values” of the campaign. While focusing on our platform is key, what constitutes “disrespect” has largely been simple resistance. Likely any delegate engaging in protest will lose their credentials. How do we expect to gain anything from those we differ with politically if we cannot have normal, productive disagreements? How do we demand “Medicare For All,” if we cannot vocally demand that from our electeds? Isn’t that disruptive? Further, what is the campaign’s “mission” if not to be in opposition to the status quo?
In the “Non-Disclosure Agreement,” the delegate must acknowledge that any information, data, lists, reports and “other works” produced by the delegate while being participating as a delegate will be the “sole property” of the campaign and the “Delegate shall have no title or rights therein.” There goes any live streaming or videography inside the convention! Not to mention the fact that delegates are not hired by the campaign so they are independent people volunteering their time. Their property is their property. It’s not always on the behalf of the campaign. This is excessive surveillance.
Senator Sanders, you always said, #NotMeUs, “this campaign is OUR campaign, it belongs to all of us. These contracts show complete disdain to grassroots activists and movement leaders, against the very disrupters we need more than ever-- against the very type of people Bernie Sanders might have walked picket lines with years before.. This is a violation of our progressive integrity. As vital Sanders supporters dedicated to the MOVEMENT above all else, we are demanding a removal of overly-censored demands in Social Media Policy, the Code of Conduct, and the NDA. We Sanders supporters are not the Democratic Party, we are a multi-racial, multi-generational, and ideologically inclusive group of working people of this country. We will be heard.
We cannot- and will not- stand by in silence.
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