In the summer of 2017 we launched Sunrise Movement to create a political home for young people in the United States who are scared about what climate change meant for our future. Uniting in our fear, together we have found hope in the movement we have built since then. We’ve grown from eight founders to over 300 local chapters nationwide and shifted climate change from a back-burner issue to the top of the nation’s consciousness. We’ve made the Green New Deal — a vision big enough to stop the climate crisis and create a better world in the process — a defining fault line in our politics. Still, we are just ordinary young people who are choosing every day to demand the world we need and fight for it.
Today, at the conclusion of our 6-week long, three-phase democratic Presidential Endorsement Process, we are making another choice: we are proud to announce that Sunrise Movement has voted resoundingly to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for President of the United States.
We know that no matter who the next President is, we will need to turn millions of people into the streets and disrupt business as usual in order to win a Green New Deal. But our movement has spoken clearly. We believe a Bernie Sanders Presidency would provide the best political terrain in which to engage in and ultimately win that struggle for the world we deserve. Senator Sanders has made it clear throughout his political career and in this campaign that he grasps the scale of the climate crisis, the urgency with which we must act to address it, and the opportunity we have in coming together to do so. Our generation’s future and the future of human civilization as we know it depend on the next President doing everything in their power to mobilize the resources of the federal government towards achieving a stable climate. Should Senator Sanders become the next President of the United States, we will push to ensure that he make delivering upon the promise of his Green New Deal platform the top priority of his administration.
Like us, Bernie Sanders knows that winning a world with social, racial, economic, and environmental justice — a world where no matter who you are, where you were born, or the color of your skin, you have a right to clean air and water, healthy food, housing, healthcare, education, a good job, and a livable future — a world in which we stop climate change, create millions of good jobs, and enact a new social contract for the 21st Century through a Green New Deal — cannot be achieved by one President or even the government on its own. A Green New Deal can only be achieved by building and sustaining a movement of millions of people of all walks of life from all corners of the country — of many colors and creeds, from the plains, mountains, and coasts — who are willing to struggle, sacrifice, and turn out into the streets and at the ballot box to fight for the world we deserve. This is why the slogan of the Bernie Sanders campaign is, “Not Me, Us.” Today, we are endorsing Bernie Sanders for President, but more than that, we are endorsing that movement — the political revolution — that we know is necessary to win a Green New Deal.
Beyond that, here are some reasons our movement’s members cited in endorsing Senator Sanders’ campaign:
- His consistency. Senator Sanders has been calling the climate crisis “the most important issue facing civilization” since the 1980s, and he’s stood alongside movements fighting it since then, too. In the 2016 election, Sanders was mocked by pundits for stating in a Democratic Debate that climate change represented the United States’ greatest geopolitical threat. Now, that position is widely held.
- His responsiveness to social movements and new information. Senator Sanders already had a strong climate plan in his 2016 campaign, and has long led the Senate in introducing ambitious climate legislation. But in response to increased scientific urgency and warnings, and pressure from social movements, Bernie leaned fully into the Green New Deal and released the biggest, boldest plan for a federal government led mobilization to save the planet we have ever seen.
- His political courage. More than any other major political figure in our lifetimes, we’ve seen Senator Sanders lead in taking positions that he believed were right and fighting for them. The positions he’s taken in the 2020 election draw from deep moral convictions promoted over decades of his career. From his days as a civil rights activist, to the countless pickets and strikes he has joined, to standing with the Standing Rock Sioux, Bernie shows up time and time again.
- His holistic vision of the future. The Green New Deal is a governing agenda and new social contract for the 21st century that says that no matter who you are, where you were born, or the color of your skin, you have a right to clean air and water, healthy food, housing, healthcare, education, a good job, and a livable future. Our generation believes in and deserves that future, and Senator Sanders — through his stances on immigration, healthcare, racial justice, inequality, environmental justice, democracy, and more — has shown he understands the interconnectedness of these issues and is fighting for that, too.
- His commitment to building a cross-class, multi-racial movement. The transformative change we seek requires taking on the world’s most powerful and moneyed interests. Change on this scale with opposition that entrenched cannot be won easily. Senator Sanders has repeatedly claimed that, as President, he would be the “organizer-in-chief.” We hope we’ll get the opportunity to hold him accountable to that. Put simply: to win a Green New Deal, we need nothing short of a political revolution.
Our endorsement of Senator Sanders should be interpreted as an affirmation of his campaign and the movement it represents, not as an indictment of other campaigns or candidates.
In particular, we’d like to acknowledge and praise the campaign of Senator Elizabeth Warren who, at 17.4% of the vote, was the only other candidate to receive greater than a few handfuls of votes from our members. Senator Warren made the Green New Deal an early centerpiece of her campaign, has forcefully gone after Big Oil corruption as one of the leading plagues of our democracy, and worked with us and others in the broader movement for climate and environmental justice to roll out over a dozen detailed climate policies. Her plans are some of the most thoughtful we have seen to date, and she makes it clear she knows that the Green New Deal is a governing lens, not just a singular piece of legislation. We’re grateful for her partnership with our movement and look forward to continuing to work together to win a Green New Deal and raise the political urgency of addressing the climate crisis.
So what does this endorsement mean for our movement?
First, to the people who didn’t get their way in this vote, we want you to know that you still have a home in our movement. We know politics can be personal, and many of you may have very firmly held reasons for supporting another candidate. Presidential campaigning will just be one part of our movement’s work going forward, and we hope you’ll continue to build this movement with us. And if you want to team up with others and organize in a different direction, as always, Sunrisers are autonomous to join together to organize any actions that are in line with our movement’s principles.
That said, as a central organization that supports the movement, we will be shifting resources and our campaigning strategy towards supporting Bernie Sanders for President in line with the mandate of this vote. This means we’ll be shifting our field program in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire towards directly supporting Bernie Sanders, and mobilizing volunteers around the country towards supporting the campaign. It also means that, while we’ll continue to celebrate and uplift all politicians who act in line with our movement’s goals, we’ll begin more forcefully advocating for why we believe Senator Sanders is the candidate best-suited to kick off the Decade of the Green New Deal.
While we believe that Senator Sanders is the best Presidential candidate to fight alongside us for a Green New Deal at this time, the movement for a Green New Deal is bigger than any one candidate. As is stated in our political principles, “No permanent friends, no permanent enemies.” We do not believe in political saviors. No one will save us from the climate crisis but ourselves. We’ll continue to push and critique everyone to live up to the policy positions and political action necessary for a just and livable future, including Senator Sanders. The stakes of the climate crisis demand it.
We are excited to be joining the movement to make Bernie Sanders the Democratic nominee for President. We believe he can win the nomination, defeat Donald Trump in November, and usher in down-ballot victories that will help jump-start the political revolution. But if Senator Sanders does not win the nomination, the stakes of the climate crisis also demand that we can’t sit this election out. No matter what, we will be steadfast in advocating for the defeat of President Trump and his fossil fuel cronies at the ballot box on November 3rd, 2020. The defeat of President Trump in 2020 is an absolute necessity towards having a shot of the federal government taking any degree of action on the climate crisis and protecting the people and places we love.
Seeing millions of young people get involved in politics for the first time when Bernie ran in 2016 helped us believe that a political movement for young people terrified about what the climate crisis means for our future was possible, and inspired us to launch what became Sunrise Movement. We’re inspired again by the movement that continues with the Bernie Sanders campaign now, and honored to be joining forces. Onwards towards a political revolution. Onwards towards a new day in America. Onwards towards a Green New Deal.
Want to be a part of what’s next for Sunrise Movement and Bernie? Join us here: http://bit.ly/sunrise4bernie
And on January 29th, join us as we kick off the Decade of the Green New Deal in living rooms across the country. Sign up to host a 2020 Launch Party here: http://smvmt.org/2020-launch-party
About our Endorsement Process:
After formal education and discussion periods, Sunrise Movement members voted via electronic ballot from December 23rd — 31st 2019. The process included public education about the impact of a Presidential endorsement on the movement’s strategy, an internal online discussion forum, a national discussion call for members of the movement, in-person meetings at the local chapter level, and a briefing from representatives of Senator Sanders’ and Senator Warren’s Presidential campaigns. Members voted first on whether or not the movement should endorse a candidate for President at this time at all, and, ultimately, for their candidate of choice.
With approximately 10,000 people eligible to vote, there were 3,349 ballots cast, 48 of which were ineligible and another 273 of which we couldn’t firmly verify as meeting our membership requirements. This left us with a remaining 3,028 eligible ballots. Of these, 85% voted that our movement should endorse a candidate for President of the United States at this time, and 76% voted for Bernie Sanders as their preferred candidate. Elizabeth Warren came in second place with 17.4% of the vote. No other candidates were close, with the next highest percentage of voters opting for “no preference” (1.85%), Pete Buttigieg (1.16%), Andrew Yang (1.02%), Tom Steyer (0.66%), Cory Booker (0.43%), Amy Klobuchar (0.4%), Joe Biden (0.36%), and Marianne Williamson and Tulsi Gabbard (0.17% each). John Delaney and Michael Bennet received zero votes.
80.4% of our voters were under the age of 35, with 2000 being the birth year with the highest frequency and the average age of the voter being 29.
64% of voting members reported active membership in a local Sunrise organizing hub, and 82.3% have participated in a Sunrise Movement action, event, summit, or training.
Here are some graphs breaking down the results:
Again, you can read a full review of our process here.