When Our Revolution -- the new organization founded by Sen. Bernie Sanders -- kicked off in Burlington, Vermont, a nurse and long-time union organizer, Mari Cordes, introduced the iconic senator in front of the many thousands watching across the country. While Cordes is a major advocate for social change in Vermont, she is not a national figure. But some might call her a pioneer whose story may be the epitome of the kind of "political revolution" that Sanders says is "just getting started."
Cordes is among several Vermont progressives, many of whom have worked with Sanders in the past, who have already had success in winning down-ticket primaries this year against what Cordes described in an interview with Truthout as "the Democratic establishment in Vermont." She was endorsed personally by Bernie Sanders in her successful primary challenge for a seat in Vermont's House of Representatives, against an incumbent Democrat. Since then, she has been among the first candidates endorsed by Our Revolution. She was also endorsed by Rights and Democracy (RAD), a Vermont-based group she helped found, which has similar goals as Our Revolution, emphasizing down-ticket races at the local level.
Cordes is a nurse with a passion for social justice (she was an anti-war tax resister for many years) who ran for local office and won against the political establishment. Her story is a test case in what Our Revolution hopes to accomplish in spades in the coming years. The goal of the "down-ticket strategy" is to transform the Democratic Party by replacing timid, establishment incumbents with passionate progressives who share Sanders' vision for a world where no one starves, or goes without housing or health care.