Four years ago, throughout the 2016 presidential election in the US, I was a loyal supporter of Bernie Sanders. Despite having little political involvement prior, in summer 2015, Bernie awakened in me a political fervor, and it has remained strong since. I read his book Our Revolution about six months after the election ended (and not at all with the results I had hoped for), then bought Jeff Weaver’s How Bernie Won and Bernie Sanders’s Where We Go From Here in 2018.
For whatever reason, I held off on reading them, but now, with the democratic primary looming just around the corner, it felt like the right time. If I’m honest, I’m hoping that by kicking off 2020 with these two books, it’ll somehow sway the country in the right direction. I hope that this time next year we’re inaugurating President Bernie Sanders.
I do admit that I’m a fan of Bernie and I agree with his politics. Indeed, that’s why I’m reading his books and books about him. However, even if you’re on the fence about him, I encourage you to read about him – including Jeff Weaver’s How Bernie Won. Regardless of your own politics, it’s an informative and thorough read that offers immense insight on what went on behind the scenes during Bernie’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Jeff Weaver and Bernie Sanders go way back, having first worked together in the political sphere in the late 1980s. Jeff helped out Bernie in his runs for Congress, and upon Bernie entering the House of Representatives in 1990, Jeff has spent many years working by his side. Fast forward to 2016: With Bernie’s decision to run for president, Jeff Weaver became his campaign manager. Throughout the following 18 months, he had an intimate knowledge of how everything came together, the hurdles they had to overcome, and why things worked out as they did.
In How Bernie Won, Jeff spends just three chapters describing his early working relationship with Bernie, from the 1980s into the 2000s. We see that, as has often been reported, Bernie’s convictions have remained constant. He’s always fought for working class people, and he’s always made himself known through old-fashioned grassroots campaigning. He’s always focused on the issues, not the personality of candidates, and has never resorted to negative ads to tear other candidates down. It’s a foundation that made him such a strong candidate in 2016 – and now again in 2020.
The rest of the book goes into immense detail on how the campaign unfolded. We get a look at who worked on the Bernie 2016 campaign, what kind of work went into it, and how media and the DNC (Democratic National Committee) played a role – generally to the intentional detriment of Bernie’s campaign. We’re reminded of how the debates went – and that there were so few – and of the dirty tricks meant to undermine Bernie’s campaign.
Then it goes into the full primary season, allowing readers to relive the election results, from Iowa and New Hampshire to California, New Jersey, and Washington, DC. It’s a rollercoaster of a ride, with exciting ups (multi-state winning streaks, huge winning numbers, thrilling upsets) and crushing downs (voter suppression and machine issues, losses in key states, misrepresentation in the media). I paid close attention during the 2016 primary – and voted for him in the Washington state caucus – but reading this book brought back all those feelings all over again.
If you want a thorough account from Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign – and with a bit more opinion-sharing than Bernie himself would ever give – then How Bernie Won is an excellent book to read. Jeff Weaver’s writing is a bit dry, and at times rather staccato and chunky, but the substance is there. Bernie supporters will certainly feel validated in reading it, but I encourage Hillary Clinton supporters and even those who voted for other candidates or didn’t vote at all to give it a read. It’ll be enlightening and perhaps make you more sympathetic to what Bernie was up against and what he was fighting for.
Now, with Bernie running again for the 2020 presidential election, I’m excited to see how it all plays out in the coming months. I hope that the roadblocks that arose during 2016 won’t be as much of a hindrance this time around, and I hope that he earns more awareness, trust, and votes. In any case, I also look forward to the next book to outline his 2020 campaign – and I hope it has the happy ending that this book’s title suggests.