U.S. Senator from Vemont, Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally.

Justice Democrats: Cenk Uygur Interviews Saikat Chakrabarti, Executive Director

On Tuesday, Cenk Uygur, co-founder of The Young Turks, interviewed Saikat Chakrabarti, the executive director of Justice Democrats, a new wing of the Democratic Party, the existence of which was announced on Monday evening, as previously featured by the Inquisitr.

Saikat Chakrabarti brings a great deal of experience to the Justice Democrats initiative, having served as director for organizing technology for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign; bringing knowledge from employment at technology firm Stripe, an online payment service; and co-founding Mockingbird, a wire-frame mockup tool. Mr. Chakrabarti is also a graduate of Harvard University, as reported by Crunchbase.

Cenk Uygur started the interview by asking Chakrabarti about what working as director for organizing technology for the Bernie Sanders campaign entailed.

The software developer explained the challenges faced by the Sanders campaign in organizing the huge groundswell of grassroots support the candidate received and his part in developing technological solutions to aide in managing it. As an example, he described software he created that aided volunteers in finding other volunteers who lived nearby. The director explained that, before the Bernie Sanders campaign, he wasn’t sure if other candidates had ever placed anyone in a director of organizing technology position.

“You guys did an amazing job,” Cenk Uygur observed of Chakrabarti’s performance.

Turning to the concept of a “distributed team,” Chakrabarti explained that in the early going of the Sanders presidential campaign, and all presidential campaigns, efforts are focused on Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, where the first Democratic primaries are held. He said that, at the time, there were million of volunteers in other states, all wishing to help out.

As the Sanders campaign deployed field staff into the battleground primary states, Chakrabarti designed “distributed team” software that helped organize those in other states to make calls into battleground states, greatly multiplying the efforts of volunteers available in primary states alone. As the primaries continued, the efforts of volunteers around the country were redirected to states needing the most support.

The 2016 Democratic National Convention.
The 2016 Democratic National Convention. [Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

Uygur held up Chakrabarti’s experience in the private sector as evidence that the director knows “technology” and “organizing.”

“So, how are we going to organize Justice Democrats?” Cenk Uygur asked.

“Well, we’re going to take a lot of stuff we learned from the Sanders campaign,” Saikat Chakrabarti answered.

He remembered the Sanders campaign effort as a “proving model” for how he plans to organize Justice Democrats. He explained that, in terms of grassroots donations and volunteers, the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign “defeated the Hillary Clinton campaign.”

“We’re going to do the same thing, but we’re going to take it forward to Congress,” Chakrabarti stated.

Uygur pointed out the fact that “Hillary Clinton won” and asked just how successful the Bernie Sanders campaign really was, acknowledging that most TYT viewers would recognize that is a “silly way of looking at it.” The TYT host explained that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s massive brand recognition gave her a huge advantage over Sanders from the beginning.

“In politics, actually, unfortunately, that’s the most important thing,” Uygur explained.

Bernie Sanders supporters hold signs at a rally.
Protesters arrive to listen to U.S. Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders at a Capitol Hill rally, in November 2016. [Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]

The host recalled Clinton holding a 60-point lead over Sanders in early 2015, which he described as insurmountable, even over the course of an entire year. In the end, Sanders almost completely closed the gap between himself and Clinton, in addition to out-fundraising the former secretary of state.

“No one would have believed that with small donors you’re going to out-raise the Clinton machine?”

Chakrabarti explained his view that what corporate Democrats miss about the Sanders campaign is that “Bernie Sanders is able to tap into something that creates enthusiasm,” including a “pure” message and a track record to back up his words. The director stated the intention of Justice Democrats to follow the same model, with no corporate or billionaire funding and going after a “big” goal, comparable with the political revolution espoused by Sanders.

Distinguishing Justice Democrats from other progressive groups, Cenk Uygur pointed out that they are planning on running “hundreds” of congressional candidates and taking no corporate dollars.

“We’re going to primary all the establishment Democrats,” Uygur stated.

“Everyone else is afraid of going that far and it’s not a time to be afraid of that,” Chakrabarti agreed.

At the time the interview was conducted, Justice Democrats had already received over 400 nominations, in just its first day. Saikat Chakrabarti explained that the group was looking for people who are “strong leaders in their community.” He described the typical path of establishment Democrats who attend Ivy League schools, make connections with donors, and then make a career for themselves in politics and how Justice Democrats is looking to break that mold. When evaluating the nominees the group already has, Chakrabarti stated “they’re so impressive.”

He explained that Justice Democrats are looking for people with a “life record” rather than a “political record.”

Turning to President Trump, and describing him as a “goofball and a monster,” Uygur underlined the fact that U.S. voters do not want career politicians.

“In the Justice Democrats, we allow humans,” the TYT host noted with a smile.

Turning to the finances of Justice Democrats and when the group can reach its goal of running hundreds of congressional and presidential candidates, Uygur asked Chakrabarti if 2020 was a reasonable time frame.

“We go as big as we can, as soon as we can,” the director responded.

Chakrabarti said that if finances and numbers allow Justice Democrats to run congressional candidates in 2018, they will, but that if circumstances require waiting until 2020, they are content with that, too. He went so far as to state that if it takes until 2024, that is fine.

“I’m not going to stop doing this, until we do it,” Chakrabarti pledged.

Uygur professed a belief that if Justice Democrats could get between six and 24 people elected to Congress in 2018, “people would freak the hell out.”

[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]