But after another defeat in 2020, the 79-year-old Vermont senator is unlikely to run for president a third time. The organization, which was centered around his fiery brand is currently undergoing a rebranding.
Rather than insisting on "Medicare for All" -- Sanders' trademark universal, government-funded health care plan -- or the climate-change-fighting Green New Deal, Our Revolution is focusing on the more modest alternatives endorsed by President Joe Biden. Those include expanding eligibility for the existing Medicare program and curtailing federal subsidies for fossil fuel companies.
This shift is a sign of a progressive movement at a crossroads. Biden won the Democratic nomination last year by offering more centrist alternatives to much of Sanders' agenda. Since then, progressive candidates have faced a series of electoral disappointments and are contending with anxiety from moderate Democrats worried that the party's leftward shift could cost them control of Congress during next year's midterm elections.
For the first time since 2016, Sanders has been recognized as the leader of the left.
Joseph Geevarghese (Our Revolution's executive director) stated that "Coming out Bernie's 2016 campaign in some ways, the organization was probably more of an organization bridge between the two electoral cycle." "What we are trying to build is something longer-term" and "part the overall ecosystem for the progressive movement."
Geevarghese stated, "I believe we are rooted on a bold, progressive view, but we're also pragmatic Progressives."
Sanders, now the head of the powerful Senate budget Committee, cannot legally work with outside groups such as Our Revolution. Many of Sanders's top allies are closely associated with the group since its founding in August 2016.
This story was not reported by the senator.
Despite its emphasis shifting, the group remains deeply involved in progressive politics. The Ohio chapter has reached more than 190,000. Voters ahead of the Democratic primary next week to replace Rep. Marcia Fudge, who resigned from Congress to become Biden’s housing chief.
Former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, one of the top voices in Sanders' presidential campaigns and a former president of Our Revolution, is competing in a crowded Democratic field that has emerged as one of the final tests of the left's political strength this year. Hillary Clinton, Jim Clyburn, the House Minority Whip, and the advocacy arm of Congressional Black Caucus have endorsed her principal opponent, Shontel Brown.
Turner interrupted an evening of canvassing recently to address Our Revolution's weekly conference calls.
Turner joined a video chat from the parking lot of a grocery store and said, "I need you," regardless of whether you are in this area or not. "Our Revolution family, please continue doing what you're doing."
Sanders will be running for Turner this weekend. Our Revolution's entire effort to support one of his key acolytes is a sign that the group isn't ready to separate itself from the democratic socialist. Geevarghese stated that Our Revolution had forged a new identity, one that is more prominent than its most high-profile ally.
"Is your brand associated with Bernie?" Yes. It's not about the individual more than what they stand for," he stated. "And we're still committed towards that."
Turner's race exemplifies Our Revolution’s renewed emphasis on grassroots organizing. It relies on approximately 600 chapters across the country that train activists to mobilize more effectively behind candidates and causes, such as raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour in cities. This is despite the fact that the federal proposal to do this remains in Congress.
Geevarghese dismissed the notion that moderate Democrats are on a rise as "fuzzy math". He noted that some of the more prominent races in this year's election were not included, but that progressive candidates endorsed By Our Revolution have seen a nationwide increase in down-ballot results.
Geevarghese stated, "We are building a bench."
Congress is prioritizing the passage of a major bill that will make voting easier, in addition to its modest environmental and health care goals. While the bill faces significant hurdles, it would counter voting restrictions passed by many Republican-controlled legislatures.
Larry Cohen, Our Revolution Board Chair, stated that while we are not going to get Medicare for All, we can get large parts of it. This was the same call in which Turner spoke. "But we have to fight with all the Democrats. These things are not going to be supported by Republicans.
Ro Khanna from California, a member the House Progressive Caucus said that Our Revolution has a better understanding of policy than many activist groups. Khanna stated that the group's recent focus was "translating ideals into concrete wins."
This is a vast improvement on the time when the group was founded. Some activists were concerned that the group would be an outside fundraising organization that could make Sanders and his denials of big-money politics look hypocritical. Sanders also spent the 2020 presidential campaign saying he didn't want a super PAC, even as Our Revolution effectively acted like one for him.
However, other progressive organizations are now recognizing Our Revolution as a way to mobilize grassroots activists, buoyed by Sanders' strong presidential campaigns.
Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth Action, stated that there is a noticeable shift in the direction of the Democratic Party's trajectory when it comes to big investments, the use of the government levers to improve peoples lives, and fighting climate change. "That is Our Revolution, Sen. Sanders really energizing the progressive base out there -- that base has made its presence known in electoral context."
Our Revolution is not planning to stop supporting progressives in primaries who challenge moderate Democrats, even though it holds onto its narrow majority in both the House and Senate.
Geevarghese stated, "We want a united party going into, and that means mainstream Democrats need to make progress in our policy priorities," "They cannot talk the talk during the campaign, then be elected, and then go on to say that it's impossible."