How Bernie Sander’s wins (even if he loses)

Paul Campillo
Mar 7, 2016 · 5 min read

This political season entertains like no other. We have Donald, Hillary, Ted, Ben, Marco, Bernie, and good ol’ Jeb. Donald’s version of truth telling is blowing everything up (including his own brand).

Hillary is a shameless panderer. Ted is deplorable, but at least he believes in his schtick. Marco is an establishment puppet. Ben is still gathering his thoughts, and Jeb spent the family jewels (roughly $130 million) on four delegates before dropping out. That’s borderline criminal.

It’s embarrassing to watch professional liars fall all over themselves for votes. But what might be more embarrassing is how much the average voter still believes in these so-called leaders and the political process. And that leads me to Bernie.

Let’s face it. Bernie Sanders is a longshot to become president — but even if he loses, he can still win. And by ‘win’ I’m not talking about some weak consolation prize such as the Vice Presidency or pulling Hillary more to the left than she’s already comfortable doing.

Bernie made an election defining statement that could be an historic moment US Politics. This is no exaggeration. Citizens all over the world should take notice.

If his message is taken to heart, people can reclaim the power they were so eager to give away. They’ll exert more influence over their lives and communities — resulting in a win for Bernie (even if he ‘loses’).

I’ll explain.

Bernie’s Magic

So what did Bernie say that has me all giddy inside?

Here’s Bernie, from his interview on the Axe Files podcast with David Axelrod, Obama’s former campaign manager:

I don’t have any illusion that I’m going to walk in — if there is a Republican House and a Republican Senate — that I’m going to walk in there and say, ‘Hey guys, listen. I’d like you to work with me on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.’

It ain’t gonna happen, I have no illusion about that.

The only way that I believe that change takes place…is that tens of millions of people are going to have to stand up and be involved in the political process the day after the election. ~Saint Bernie

Hold up. “After the election”?

Is anyone else hearing this?!

Bernie, I could kiss you. Well, ok, that’s going too far, but still, wow. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice he says that he ‘can’t do it alone’ at least once in every in-depth interview and every stump speech. I marvel every time I hear it.

Why is this statement so damn important?

Because Bernie is out to murder the current brand of leadership everyone is consumed with. The kind where one person comes and saves the world ‘if you’ll just vote for me.’

Do you really believe that ONE person can fashion an entire country in their vision?

Do you really believe that ONE person is capable of keeping their insane promises without lots and lots of help?

Do you still believe in the old brand of leadership that produces a new savior that you should get behind in every election cycle?

Has someone EVER transformed an entire country using their charisma, good looks, and their ‘roll up the sleeves’ work ethic? In the history of our planet?

No. You know why? Because it’s impossible. And every election cycle, people fall for these silly promises. It happens every time.

In Bernie’s interview with Killer Mike, Mike picked up on this point and emphatically stated, “You seem to be the only candidate that wants a smarter constituency.”

In fact, Mike’s own disbelief made him say it twice. Why? Because it’s not normal political rhetoric. You just don’t hear politicians say things like this because they want you to believe that THEY have the power to change things, not you.

They have the capability to make things happen, not you.

Sure. You can vote. That’s what you can do. Just shut up, vote, and watch ’em go. It goes something like this:

Look. You can have an awesome country if you vote for me. You can have it all. Health care, low taxes, whatever you want. Just vote for me.

I’ll take care of you.

I’ll take care of your family.


Bernie’s delivery

Throughout Killer Mike’s interview, he continues to toss the Senator fat softballs to knock out of the park, once and for all. But instead of blasting the door down with a thundering stomp, Bernie politely knocked, offering milk and cookies.

Look. It’s not that his message isn’t strong (it is), and it’s not like this interview wasn’t powerful (it was), I just don’t believe Bernie’s delivery came across as the game-breaker it really is. In fact, Bernie’s delivery will most likely cost him the election. His “ghetto” gaffe in the most recent debate makes me slap my head and go, “Doh!”

Still, Bernie’s message about civic engagement is sobering. Imagine him shutting down every future interview, every speech, every fundraiser and saying, “Wait a minute. Do you ALL understand what I’m saying? Do you really get it? We’re not leaving here until YOU get this…”

I’d guess that Bernie would lose a lot of people if they knew what he was asking of them. His message struck me because I’ve been waiting YEARS for someone to put a crack in this insane paradigm of messianic leaders who will fix things if you grant them power.

Ramping up civic engagement is a brilliant strategy for revolutionizing a corrupt political system and Bernie presents it courageously. But will people get it? Then reality hits me:

Does anyone care what happens after elections? Do I even care? Not really.

In fact, I think most people don’t. People go back to their routines after a political election. Some are happy. Some are sad. Some are upset. Some give up. Some move to another country. And some decide to keep going and do something about it.

Imagine if more people got involved in the political process after elections.

Imagine if people got fired up the day after an election, even if their candidate of choice didn’t win.

Imagine if people mobilized and organized ALL THE DAMN TIME.

Imagine if civics was sexy, and everyone was ‘doing it’, not just the radicals and power mongers.

It doesn’t matter if the media gets the magnificence of Bernie’s ‘day after’ strategy. It matters that YOU do. Why would the media underscore his call to action if, in the end, it ultimately diminishes their massive influence?

What matters is that YOU get this idea, that the phony illusion of leadership, as an all-knowing, omniscient savior is over. The old brand of leadership you grew up with is coming to an end. It has to.

We have to reclaim our power through action, assertiveness, and follow-through.

Who’s responsible? Who’s accountable for all this?

Look in the mirror.

Nothing has changed since the dawn of humanity.

It’s on us. It’s always been this way, but when will civic life stop being a spectator sport? Will we step up? When?

Because our lives depend on it.

Our children’s lives depend on it.

The future of the world depends on it.

If we get more involved, we win. Bernie wins, too. Even if he loses.

Originally published at on March 7, 2016.

Paul Campillo

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Storyteller/thinker @typeform (not your daddy’s forms). From the Bay to Barcelona. Find me @paulcampillo or