Sunrise Movement
January 9, 2020

Sunrise Movement endorses Bernie Sanders for President

In the summer of 2017 we launched Sunrise Movement to create a political home for young people in the United States who are scared about what climate change meant for our future. Uniting in our fear, together we have found hope in the movement we have built since then. We’ve grown from eight founders to over 300 local chapters nationwide and shifted climate change from a back-burner issue to the top of the nation’s consciousness. We’ve made the Green New Deal — a vision big enough to stop the climate crisis and create a better world in the process — a defining fault line in our politics. Still, we are just ordinary young people who are choosing every day to demand the world we need and fight for it.

Today, at the conclusion of our 6-week long, three-phase democratic Presidential Endorsement Process, we are making another choice: we are proud to announce that Sunrise Movement has voted resoundingly to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for President of the United States.

We know that no matter who the next President is, we will need to turn millions of people into the streets and disrupt business as usual in order to win a Green New Deal. But our movement has spoken clearly. We believe a Bernie Sanders Presidency would provide the best political terrain in which to engage in and ultimately win that struggle for the world we deserve. Senator Sanders has made it clear throughout his political career and in this campaign that he grasps the scale of the climate crisis, the urgency with which we must act to address it, and the opportunity we have in coming together to do so. Our generation’s future and the future of human civilization as we know it depend on the next President doing everything in their power to mobilize the resources of the federal government towards achieving a stable climate. Should Senator Sanders become the next President of the United States, we will push to ensure that he make delivering upon the promise of his Green New Deal platform the top priority of his administration.

Why Bernie?

Like us, Bernie Sanders knows that winning a world with social, racial, economic, and environmental justice — a world where no matter who you are, where you were born, or the color of your skin, you have a right to clean air and water, healthy food, housing, healthcare, education, a good job, and a livable future — a world in which we stop climate change, create millions of good jobs, and enact a new social contract for the 21st Century through a Green New Deal — cannot be achieved by one President or even the government on its own. A Green New Deal can only be achieved by building and sustaining a movement of millions of people of all walks of life from all corners of the country — of many colors and creeds, from the plains, mountains, and coasts — who are willing to struggle, sacrifice, and turn out into the streets and at the ballot box to fight for the world we deserve. This is why the slogan of the Bernie Sanders campaign is, “Not Me, Us.” Today, we are endorsing Bernie Sanders for President, but more than that, we are endorsing that movement — the political revolution — that we know is necessary to win a Green New Deal.

Beyond that, here are some reasons our movement’s members cited in endorsing Senator Sanders’ campaign:

  • His consistency. Senator Sanders has been calling the climate crisis “the most important issue facing civilization” since the 1980s, and he’s stood alongside movements fighting it since then, too. In the 2016 election, Sanders was mocked by pundits for stating in a Democratic Debate that climate change represented the United States’ greatest geopolitical threat. Now, that position is widely held.
  • His responsiveness to social movements and new information. Senator Sanders already had a strong climate plan in his 2016 campaign, and has long led the Senate in introducing ambitious climate legislation. But in response to increased scientific urgency and warnings, and pressure from social movements, Bernie leaned fully into the Green New Deal and released the biggest, boldest plan for a federal government led mobilization to save the planet we have ever seen.
  • His political courage. More than any other major political figure in our lifetimes, we’ve seen Senator Sanders lead in taking positions that he believed were right and fighting for them. The positions he’s taken in the 2020 election draw from deep moral convictions promoted over decades of his career. From his days as a civil rights activist, to the countless pickets and strikes he has joined, to standing with the Standing Rock Sioux, Bernie shows up time and time again.
  • His holistic vision of the future. The Green New Deal is a governing agenda and new social contract for the 21st century that says that no matter who you are, where you were born, or the color of your skin, you have a right to clean air and water, healthy food, housing, healthcare, education, a good job, and a livable future. Our generation believes in and deserves that future, and Senator Sanders — through his stances on immigration, healthcare, racial justice, inequality, environmental justice, democracy, and more — has shown he understands the interconnectedness of these issues and is fighting for that, too.
  • His commitment to building a cross-class, multi-racial movement. The transformative change we seek requires taking on the world’s most powerful and moneyed interests. Change on this scale with opposition that entrenched cannot be won easily. Senator Sanders has repeatedly claimed that, as President, he would be the “organizer-in-chief.” We hope we’ll get the opportunity to hold him accountable to that. Put simply: to win a Green New Deal, we need nothing short of a political revolution.
Our endorsement of Senator Sanders should be interpreted as an affirmation of his campaign and the movement it represents, not as an indictment of other campaigns or candidates.

In particular, we’d like to acknowledge and praise the campaign of Senator Elizabeth Warren who, at 17.4% of the vote, was the only other candidate to receive greater than a few handfuls of votes from our members. Senator Warren made the Green New Deal an early centerpiece of her campaign, has forcefully gone after Big Oil corruption as one of the leading plagues of our democracy, and worked with us and others in the broader movement for climate and environmental justice to roll out over a dozen detailed climate policies. Her plans are some of the most thoughtful we have seen to date, and she makes it clear she knows that the Green New Deal is a governing lens, not just a singular piece of legislation. We’re grateful for her partnership with our movement and look forward to continuing to work together to win a Green New Deal and raise the political urgency of addressing the climate crisis.

So what does this endorsement mean for our movement?

First, to the people who didn’t get their way in this vote, we want you to know that you still have a home in our movement. We know politics can be personal, and many of you may have very firmly held reasons for supporting another candidate. Presidential campaigning will just be one part of our movement’s work going forward, and we hope you’ll continue to build this movement with us. And if you want to team up with others and organize in a different direction, as always, Sunrisers are autonomous to join together to organize any actions that are in line with our movement’s principles.

That said, as a central organization that supports the movement, we will be shifting resources and our campaigning strategy towards supporting Bernie Sanders for President in line with the mandate of this vote. This means we’ll be shifting our field program in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire towards directly supporting Bernie Sanders, and mobilizing volunteers around the country towards supporting the campaign. It also means that, while we’ll continue to celebrate and uplift all politicians who act in line with our movement’s goals, we’ll begin more forcefully advocating for why we believe Senator Sanders is the candidate best-suited to kick off the Decade of the Green New Deal.

While we believe that Senator Sanders is the best Presidential candidate to fight alongside us for a Green New Deal at this time, the movement for a Green New Deal is bigger than any one candidate. As is stated in our political principles, “No permanent friends, no permanent enemies.” We do not believe in political saviors. No one will save us from the climate crisis but ourselves. We’ll continue to push and critique everyone to live up to the policy positions and political action necessary for a just and livable future, including Senator Sanders. The stakes of the climate crisis demand it.

We are excited to be joining the movement to make Bernie Sanders the Democratic nominee for President. We believe he can win the nomination, defeat Donald Trump in November, and usher in down-ballot victories that will help jump-start the political revolution. But if Senator Sanders does not win the nomination, the stakes of the climate crisis also demand that we can’t sit this election out. No matter what, we will be steadfast in advocating for the defeat of President Trump and his fossil fuel cronies at the ballot box on November 3rd, 2020. The defeat of President Trump in 2020 is an absolute necessity towards having a shot of the federal government taking any degree of action on the climate crisis and protecting the people and places we love.

Seeing millions of young people get involved in politics for the first time when Bernie ran in 2016 helped us believe that a political movement for young people terrified about what the climate crisis means for our future was possible, and inspired us to launch what became Sunrise Movement. We’re inspired again by the movement that continues with the Bernie Sanders campaign now, and honored to be joining forces. Onwards towards a political revolution. Onwards towards a new day in America. Onwards towards a Green New Deal.

Want to be a part of what’s next for Sunrise Movement and Bernie? Join us here:

And on January 29th, join us as we kick off the Decade of the Green New Deal in living rooms across the country. Sign up to host a 2020 Launch Party here:

About our Endorsement Process:

After formal education and discussion periods, Sunrise Movement members voted via electronic ballot from December 23rd — 31st 2019. The process included public education about the impact of a Presidential endorsement on the movement’s strategy, an internal online discussion forum, a national discussion call for members of the movement, in-person meetings at the local chapter level, and a briefing from representatives of Senator Sanders’ and Senator Warren’s Presidential campaigns. Members voted first on whether or not the movement should endorse a candidate for President at this time at all, and, ultimately, for their candidate of choice.

With approximately 10,000 people eligible to vote, there were 3,349 ballots cast, 48 of which were ineligible and another 273 of which we couldn’t firmly verify as meeting our membership requirements. This left us with a remaining 3,028 eligible ballots. Of these, 85% voted that our movement should endorse a candidate for President of the United States at this time, and 76% voted for Bernie Sanders as their preferred candidate. Elizabeth Warren came in second place with 17.4% of the vote. No other candidates were close, with the next highest percentage of voters opting for “no preference” (1.85%), Pete Buttigieg (1.16%), Andrew Yang (1.02%), Tom Steyer (0.66%), Cory Booker (0.43%), Amy Klobuchar (0.4%), Joe Biden (0.36%), and Marianne Williamson and Tulsi Gabbard (0.17% each). John Delaney and Michael Bennet received zero votes.

80.4% of our voters were under the age of 35, with 2000 being the birth year with the highest frequency and the average age of the voter being 29.

64% of voting members reported active membership in a local Sunrise organizing hub, and 82.3% have participated in a Sunrise Movement action, event, summit, or training.

Sunrise Movement
Evan Weber
November 27, 2019

Sunrise Movement 2020 Presidential Endorsement Process

Background and Purpose
Sunrise was founded in the summer of 2017 to create a political home for young people in the United States who are scared about what climate change meant for our future. A big part of what brought the founding team together was watching the 2016 Presidential election play out and seeing the young people in the grassroots climate justice movement not having an organized way to harness independent political power to engage meaningfully in the election. As we looked towards the 2020 Presidential election, we knew we wanted to enable our movement to have a full range of options for what our engagement in the Presidential election could look like. Already, alongside others in the climate movement, we’ve had a dramatic impact on the Presidential race by: getting nearly every major candidate to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, making climate action a top priority in the Presidential primary for the first time, spurring first-of-their-kind historic Presidential Climate Crisis Forums, forcing every candidate to lay out comprehensive climate plans, and having almost every candidate either endorse the sweeping vision of the Green New Deal or frame their plans around it.

The stakes of this election are too damn high to leave any options for how our movement might engage off the table. We’ve committed multiple times throughout the year to enabling a process that would allow our movement to decide whether we wanted to endorse a candidate for President in the 2020 election. This is that process.

It also must be said that our movement has been clear since it’s launch that the defeat of President Trump in 2020 is an absolute necessity towards having a shot of the federal government taking any degree of action on the climate crisis, and any degree of action on the climate crisis means millions more lives saved. If we do endorse a candidate for President and that candidate does not win the nomination, we will unite behind the nominee and be steadfast in advocating for the defeat of President Trump and his fossil fuel cronies at the ballot box in November.

At all times, our movement is laser focused on building both people power and political power to stop the climate crisis and create millions of good jobs in the process. This endorsement process is set up to allow the members of our movement to democratically deliberate on whether a Presidential endorsement in the 2020 cycle will help us to achieve those goals, and put us in the best possible position to create a political mandate for enacting a Green New Deal in 2020, 2021 and beyond.

We are evaluating all major Presidential candidates who signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge and have released a climate plan as of 11/25.

The Sunrise Movement 2020 Presidential Endorsement process will allow the members of our movement to engage in collective education, discussion, and deliberative democracy to determine:

1. Whether or not Sunrise Movement should endorse a candidate for President of the United States in 2020, and
2. If so, who that candidate should be.

On the week of November 25th, 2019 Sunrise Movement will launch our movement-wide Presidential endorsement process for the 2020 cycle that will run through the end of the year.

The process will enable the movement to collectively 1) deliberate on our overall orientation to the 2020 race and the candidates running in it and 2) if we decide to, endorse a candidate for president.

There are 3 main phases of the endorsement process:
Phase 1: Education
Phase 2: Discussion
Phase 3: Voting

Components of each phase
Phase 1: Education, Weeks 1–3
  • National Political team provides overall context, framing of endorsement process, and shares educational materials
  • Movement begins discussion for/against endorsement via an online Collective Education Forum
Phase 2: Discussion, Weeks 3–4
  • In-person hub meetings around the country to review education materials and discuss the decision about whether or not to endorsement collectively in community
  • National discussion via regular state of the movement call
Phase 3: Voting, Weeks 5–6
  • Voting!
Phase 4: Results
  • Release results of endorsement process in January
Voting will take place at the end of the year from 12/23–12/31. Sunrise Movement members will vote online in response to two questions:
  • Should Sunrise Movement endorse a candidate for President of the United States? (Y/N)
  • Please indicate your preferred candidate for Sunrise Movement’s presidential endorsement: (Multiple choice)
Because we want our Presidential endorsement to be something that grows the movement, not fractures it, we are requiring 2/3rds approval (66%) for an endorsement to occur. If that threshold is reached, we will tally the results of the vote and endorse the candidate that wins 50%+1.

Unity in the movement is of the utmost importance. A fractured movement as the result of a Presidential endorsement process diminishes our ability to have the political impact we need to win a Green New Deal in the long run, more than a Sunrise Movement Presidential candidate endorsement actually changes the overall dynamics of the 2020 Presidential race. The movement is more important than any one candidate. This means:
  • If less than 66% of members vote for Presidential endorsement of any candidate, we will not endorse a Presidential candidate at this time.
  • If there is less than 50%+1 support for a specific candidate, we will not endorse a Presidential candidate at this time.
If the vote results in a “no-endorsement” because either vote threshold is not cleared, we will not endorse in January of 2020. However, the national Political Team may call up a vote again in February or March should we determine that political dynamics in the Presidential race merit re-visiting the decision.

We will publish transparently the full results of the vote after they occur, no matter the results.


Bottom line: One member, one vote!

For the purpose of this process, you are a member of Sunrise Movement if you meet any of the following conditions or categories:
  • You are a member of a local hub or strike circle
  • You hold a national support role in the movement as either a staff or volunteer. If you are staff, you must have participated in a training, hub meeting, or action in order to be able to vote.
  • Our online records indicate that you have participated in a Sunrise action, event, summit, or training (in-person or online) since our launch
We are asking people to self-identify — using the above qualifications — about whether you are a member of Sunrise Movement or not, and we will ask people to indicate what their participation in the movement has been as they vote. For this endorsement to be meaningful and powerful, it is very important that this vote be representative of the actual membership and leadership of Sunrise Movement. If we endorse a candidate, we hope that it can be an authentic representation of our movement. With that in mind, there is no lower age limit to who may participate, but we are asking people to abide by our Young At Heart guidelines if you are ~35 years or older and thinking about whether or not you should participate in this vote.

We are aiming for a minimum threshold of 2,500 members participating in the vote.

For a more detailed on the vote process, including a more detailed timeline, read here.

Background on the design of the 2020 Sunrise Movement Presidential Endorsement process:

The endorsement process design was led by National Political Director Evan Weber and Internal Organizing Director Victoria Fernandez, with feedback and consultation from the national Movement Support Team and Sunrise Movement members via the State of the Movement Calls, emails, and feedback forms.