The grassroots campaign to draft Bernie Sanders as a presidential nominee of the people began with and is powered by Berners. If you’ve seen the hashtags #DenyEm270 or #OpDeny270, it’s likely that you’ve also seen the accusations that the campaign is actually a scam perpetuated by Correct The Record, an organization currently devoted to helping Hillary Clinton win the presidency.
I’m not unfamiliar with Correct The Record. I wrote about the super PAC’s launch of “Barrier Breakers” back in April. And yes, I do understand that on September 16, The New York Times reported that Justin Barasky said that Priorities USA, which reportedly works closely with Correct The Record, would be launching a multimillion-dollar digital campaign that would make it clear that “a third-party candidate is a vote for Donald Trump.”
Look, I get the fears. Suddenly, a write-in campaign for Bernie Sanders appeared seemingly out of nowhere and following Barasky’s announcement. Some progressives claimed that the write-in campaign was the Clinton campaign’s way to steal votes from Jill Stein. They say it’s obvious, because of the timing.
The timing of Priorities USA’s anti-third party campaign and the write-in Bernie campaign actually is a coincidence.
Peace Route pointed out on October 3, the timing also coincided with something else too.
“#OpDeny270 was sparked by Dawn Papple who also claimed Gary Johnson could win. Don’t be fooled by a write-in Bernie campaign,” Min Min wrote on the blog post that was viewed almost 38,000 times and included accusations that Hillary’s campaign was behind the write-in strategy.
The blog post has been edited, but the original introduction can still be seen on social media posts and Google.
— R. Marshall Smith (@peacepumpkinpic) October 15, 2016
So, here’s the thing. I’m Dawn Papple.
I am not paid by a Clinton super PAC. I am not a so-called “hilbot.”
In fact, the closest I came to supporting Hillary Clinton was when I paid 10 dollars to my state’s Democratic Party, so that I could become a member on-the-fly and vote for Sanders delegates at my state convention. And, for what it’s worth, that map of who can and can’t write in Bernie featured by Peace Route is inaccurate.
— NorthernNJ4Bernie (@NorthernNJ4Bern) October 15, 2016
Of course, I didn’t start Operation Deny 270, I just wrote an article explaining a scenario in which Bernie Sanders could become president thanks to the 12th Amendment.
I wrote a similar article about how Gary Johnson could gain electoral votes and throw a wrench in the system. The Johnson article was only shared a couple hundred times. It’s really easy to figure out that I support a Bernie Sanders presidency, but while I won’t be voting for Johnson, it was still my duty to point out the 12th Amendment loophole to Johnson voters too. Inquisitr’s readers aren’t strictly progressives.
One day later, on September 23, Meg Bones created a fundraiser so Bernie supporters could pool their money and take out ads in order to implement a 12th Amendment Election. Meg’s campaign used the hashtag #WriteInBernieStrategically and #DenyEm270. It turns out that Bones had been trying to get the Deny 270 idea to catch for some time. On Facebook, she put out her own call-to-action on September 4, August 31, and even earlier. After Hillary won the nomination, Bones was busy promoting support for the Native Americans at the Dakota Pipeline, loathing on Clinton on Facebook and posting about Jill Stein. Back in April, she was promoting Democracy Spring at the same time Inquisitr was one of only a handful of non-activist news sources reporting on Democracy Spring’s protest against the oligarchy. Meg Bones is also not a Clinton supporter, obviously.
Incidentally, I wish that I could say my article was sparked by Meg Bones, but actually, it was a letter written to The Baltimore Sun this summer in which Rowland E. King implored, “Let The House Choose The Next President.”
On September 24, Canadian singer Raffi Cavoukian, who has tweeted his distaste for Clinton repeatedly and who also is clearly not a paid troll for Hillary, tweeted the Inquisitr article. With his enormous following, the article got noticed pretty quickly, but it still wasn’t getting excessive social media shares.
— Raffi Cavoukian (@Raffi_RC) September 24, 2016
A Green Berniecrat named Michael Sparks saw my September 22 article and two days later wrote what became a fiercely popular blog post with a call-to-action on it. Sparks’ post was hot on social media within hours.
How Bernie Sanders Could Become President With Only 130,000 Votes https://t.co/Zdp3eQ8LAo
— #CaliBernication (@brooklynnygirl) September 25, 2016
Not long after that, Embols, a website that makes a habit out of stealing viral articles, republished Michael’s call-to-action blog as its own, and that too went viral. After that, Passion For Plants also republished Michael’s idea. Then, Bients reblogged it, linking back to Spark’s post.
Michael isn’t a Clinton supporter either. Michael was posting about Sanders way back in March and about his heartbreak over the Hillary Clinton nomination this summer. He exited the Democratic party and joined the Greens, his articles suggest. His write-in action plan for Bernie was focused on Vermont and he cited the Inquisitr article.
At the same time, multiple online networking groups popped up.
OpDeny270 publicly kicked off on September 29, according to its Facebook records. Its founders and administrators’ social media accounts have been used to denounce Clinton relentlessly for months. OpDeny270, unlike Sparks’ original call to action, encouraged voters in more than just Vermont to write in Bernie Sanders. The original organizers of OpDeny270 strategized a three-state path that would lead to a Bernie Sanders presidency and help the Green Party get to the five-percent of the popular vote it needed for election funding in 2020 at the same time: Vermont, New Hampshire, and Oregon voters were to write-in Bernie Sanders, the groups Facebook posts indicated. All other states were to vote for Jill Stein.
— Sarita Bills (@RitaRoo2010) October 10, 2016
Voters in other states wanted to write-in Bernie too, though. Many had “DemExited” to the Green Party, but upon learning that they could write-in Bernie, they were also interested. Quickly, it was clear that people lucky enough to live in states where their write-in votes for an unregistered candidate would be counted were not about to miss their opportunity to vote for Bernie Sanders.
— ZombieNinjaBerner (@zombieninja420) October 7, 2016
CNN reported on October 13 that Google Trends showed searches for write-ins were off the charts. CNN lumped several candidates together as though everyone wants to write-in all sorts of people, but when those searches are compared against each other, the truth is clear.
People overwhelmingly and suddenly wanted to know about writing in Bernie Sanders.
With enough support behind the idea, the Deny 270 strategy started feeling increasingly real, according to group posts. Consequently, the website Operation Deny 270 – A Political Revolution was designed to feature a link to each state’s specific write-in laws, a detailed explanation of the strategy they came up with, a link to the app where volunteers can phonebank for Bernie in Vermont, interactive and informative maps and more.
Terje Oseberg, another longtime progressive who has been promoting a Bernie Sanders voters co-op for quite some time, is now coordinating a Vote The Block campaign for phone banking in Vermont. He says that 10,000 Berniecrats could call all of Vermont in just one day, and he is actively looking for volunteers to call Vermonters to let them know about the grassroots campaign.
California Berner Scott McCampbell, who has been fiercely promoting the Deny 270 campaign, said on Facebook that the strategy’s end-goal is “well within the range of possibility, especially depending on any changes that could happen over the next three weeks.” Scott is also not a Clinton supporter, he uploaded his voter registration as proof of his “DemExit.” He kept tabs on California as hundreds of thousands of ballots were counted weeks after the media declared Clinton victorious in California. Scott emailed election officials in all of the targeted states to verify the plausibility of the write-in Bernie Sanders campaign and uploaded their responses to Facebook.
There is a page on Facebook simply called “US” that appears from its posts to have been created just days after the now scandal-affected Donna Brazile was named to replace the scandal-affected Debbie Wasserman as the DNC chair. US is heavily promoting the write-in strategy, along with dozens of other pages and groups. It’s unclear who started US, but it was invoking the 12th Amendment in early September, and its posts certainly don’t help Clinton’s campaign.
The organizers and promoters of the Bernie Sanders write-in campaign are not paid “online trolls” working for Hillary Clinton. The movement wasn’t sparked by people trying to steal and throw away votes that the Green Party inherited from Bernie Sanders after the rigged primary election. The campaign to write-in Bernie strategically was sparked by and is promoted by and fueled by people who wanted to see Bernie Sanders in the White House.
There are lies being told about the write-in campaign, that’s for certain, but it’s not coming from the organizers. Case-in-point, when a self-proclaimed experienced canvasser connected with Michael Sparks to lead volunteers in Vermont, he nearly quit the campaign. She told him that she spoke with Jane Sanders herself and that Jane said that the campaign was a bad idea. As it turned out though, that the conversation never happened, according to Jane Sanders on Twitter. Jane said that the entire story the canvasser told Sparks was untrue.
— Jane O’Meara Sanders (@janeosanders) October 18, 2016
— Jane O’Meara Sanders (@janeosanders) October 18, 2016
The 12th Amendment is a real thing, and Berners wish to invoke it.
You know Sanders ballots count in at least 10 states. Vote for Jill, it’s your Right. Defrauding the Public about Bernie is a Crime. STOP. https://t.co/4w5xlFt1NG
— DenisePouchet (@DenisePouchet) October 20, 2016
Droves of Americans took pledges to write Sanders in, before they even knew their votes would count. Now, as WikiLeaks leaks information about Clinton and Trump leaks information about himself, people in at least 10 states know their write-in votes could actually draft a president they could be proud of: President Bernard Sanders.
A Clinton super PAC isn’t powering Deny 270, Berners are.