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Rules for Revolutionaries

How Big Organizing Can Change Everything

Lessons from the groundbreaking grassroots campaign that helped launch a new political revolution

Rules for Revolutionaries is a bold challenge to the political establishment and the “rules” that govern campaign strategy.

It tells the story of a breakthrough experiment conducted on the fringes of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign: A technology-driven team empowered volunteers to build and manage the infrastructure to make seventy-five million calls, launch eight million text messages, and hold more than one-hundred thousand public meetings—in an effort to put Bernie Sanders’s insurgent campaign over the top.

Bond and Exley, digital iconoclasts who have been reshaping the way politics is practiced in America for two decades, have identified twenty-two rules of “Big Organizing” that can be used to drive social change movements of any kind. And they tell the inside story of one of the most amazing grassroots political campaigns ever run.

Fast-paced, provocative, and profound, Rules for Revolutionaries stands as a liberating challenge to the low expectations and small thinking that dominates too many advocacy, non-profit, and campaigning organizations—and points the way forward to a future where political revolution is truly possible.

REVIEWS AND PRAISE

Publishers Weekly-

"Bond and Exley, senior advisors on the Sanders presidential campaign and the primary architects of the campaign’s national grassroots efforts, distill the organizing techniques they employed during the hard-fought Sanders-Clinton Democratic presidential primary. Bond and Exley argue convincingly that the old-school organizing techniques embodied in Saul Alinsky’s classic Rules for Radicals fall short in the 21st-century age of social media. They divide their commentary into 22 rules, illustrated by examples from the campaign. They cover basics like fund-raising, phone banking, and intraorganization communication, but the heart of their theory is 'big organizing.' The idea is that people will organize around issues that are fundamental and speak to “big target universes,” such as making public college free, or providing universal health care. Along with identifying issues that matter to lots of people, the new rules embrace a structure that gives power to volunteers. Bond and Exley also argue that good management is not counter-revolutionary and note the dangers of management by consensus. The successes of the Sanders campaign gives credibility to this new organizing paradigm, and Bond and Exley’s valuable and pragmatic road map will appeal to those interested in social change, whether they’re organizing presidential campaigns or neighborhood efforts.”

“Bernie Sanders’s presidential run was a spectacular wake-up call, revealing the huge number of Americans willing to fight for radical change. That includes a great many who didn’t sign up for the political revolution this time around, which is good news: Our movements can learn how to go even bigger and broader. We can win—but only if we continue to develop the kinds of tactics, tools, and vision laid out in this vitally important book, perhaps the first to explore how to organize at the true scale of the crises we face.”--Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine

Rules for Revolutionaries is a lamppost for those who are committed to causes of community uplift, grassroots empowerment, and organizing for good. Insurgents get ready, this is the book for you.”--Nina Turner, assistant professor of African American history, Cuyahoga Community College; national surrogate, Bernie Sanders campaign; former Ohio state senator

 

“Here’s a guide from the heart of Bernie’s grassroots movement that mobilized hundreds of thousands of volunteers. Rules for Revolutionaries is a playbook for ‘big organizing’—a melding of grassroots movement tactics with new technology. It’s a must-read for anyone who wants to take back our economy from the moneyed interests.”--Robert B. Reich, author of Saving Capitalism

“If you want to change the world and the status quo, read this book. An alternate title would appropriately be: How to Make the Impossible, Possible. Prepare to be inspired.”--Assemblywoman Lucy Flores

“Climate activists around the world watched Bernie’s vibrant volunteer network with envy and wondered whether we, too, could build that level of engagement absent a candidate and national election. Bond and Exley answer that question: Yes, we can! Everyone who wants to solve climate change—or any other big issue—should read this book and get started.”--Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA

“This must-read book lays down 22 ‘rules’ designed to put power in the hands of people who want to make radical social change. Becky Bond and Zack Exley have walked the walk—and they know what organizing looks like when you begin with a big, transformative demand and challenge the establishment. You win big when you ask big—and whoever wins in November, we’ll need to push for revolutionary change from Day One. Becky and Zack’s book is a vital contribution to that project!”--Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher, The Nation 

“If you want to understand Bernie's remarkable campaign—and more importantly, if you want to understand how to organize big, world-shaking campaigns of all kinds in the future—this is the book for you. The authors bring enormous credibility and enormous insight to a crucial task; what they describe in electoral politics goes just as much for battles like the one around the Keystone pipeline.”--Bill McKibben, New York Times bestselling author; cofounder, 350.org

“Two of our generation’s most accomplished organizers share the creative tactics and technology they used to lead hundreds of thousands of people to volunteer their time to change the course of history—and how you can, too. This page-turner belongs in the hands of new and veteran organizers alike and will set the standard for how to make change in the twenty-first century.”--David Broockman, assistant professor of political economy, Stanford University

“For populists who want to continue Bernie Sanders’s political revolution and win radical change, this is a book for you. In their Rules for Revolutionaries, Becky Bond and Zack Exley lay down a new marker for what mass volunteer organizing makes possible by combining emerging consumer technology and radical trust with some tried and true ‘old organizing’ tactics.”--Jim Hightower, author of Swim Against the Current

“Crucial, important, strategic, urgent.”--Naomi Wolf, New York Times bestselling author of The End of America

“Becky and Zack’s rules are as refreshing as Bernie’s candidacy itself. Their rules are specific enough to get started right now and flexible enough to last for the long haul of the revolution we so desperately need."--Tim DeChristopher, Bidder 70; cofounder, Climate Disobedience Center

Kirkus Reviews-

"Senior advisers to the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign leadership offer pointers on how to start the next movement—or perhaps continue the one they started. By some lights, Sanders should have won the Democratic Party nomination in 2016. By any measure, his ‘revolution' was an extraordinary success, taking a little-known, admitted socialist from a small New England state and propelling him to the national spotlight—and, though a half-century's age difference prevailed, capturing the hearts of countless millennials. Bond and Exley, members of a team of 'go-for-broke irregulars,' did much to propel the Sanders movement in their daily work, much of which hinged on old-fashioned principles of campaigning. As they note, 'when you look at the actual campaign results, the gold standard for moving voters in elections is a volunteer having a conversation with a voter on the doorstep or on the telephone.' How do you get volunteers inspired? How do you organize them, especially when they're working for an out-of-the-mainstream candidate and may incline to the anarchic? How do you keep the bossy ones from cowing the more sheepish among the crew? Bond and Exley, alternating chapters and anecdotes, have plenty of answers: don't ask who wants to be the leader but instead ask 'who wants to get to work.' Make everyone feel welcome. Above all, make everyone feel as if they're taking part in a historic moment, in something big. That said, the authors note, there are some necessary evils, including hiring professionals once an electoral movement gets to a cer tain momentum and courting wealthy donors. Again, they have answers: 'Puritanism is a bad thing!' they admonish, meaning there's not much room in practical politics for purity of procedure—to which they add, helpfully, that the path to change means being 'willing to throw out old practices.' A lively update of and rejoinder to Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, which, as this book very well may do, has long offered guidance to the right as well as the left."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Becky Bond

Becky Bond

Becky Bond served as a senior advisor on the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and was an architect of the campaign’s national, volunteer-driven grassroots campaign. Prior to joining the Bernie Sanders campaign, Becky served as political director at CREDO where she was an innovator working at the intersection of organizing, politics, and technology for over a decade. Becky is a cofounder of CREDO SuperPAC, which was named by Mother Jones as one “2012’s Least Horrible Super-PACs” for helping to defeat five sitting Tea Party Republican Congressmen. She lives in San Francisco, California, with the writer, designer, and book artist Emily McVarish. For more information about Becky, Rules for Revolutionaries, and a downloadable, open-source teaching tool to help you implement change in your community, visit www.bigorganizing.com

CONNECT WITH THIS AUTHOR

Becky Bond on Twitter
Rules for Revolutionaries' Website

Zack Exley

Zack Exley

Zack Exley served as a senior advisor on the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and was an architect of the campaign’s national, volunteer-driven grassroots campaign. Zack was a union organizer before becoming MoveOn.org’s first organizing director in its campaign to prevent the war in Iraq in 2003. As an early advisor to the Howard Dean campaign, he helped transfer MoveOn.org’s early fundraising and organizing discoveries into presidential politics, and he then served as John Kerry’s director of online fundraising and communications in the general election where his team raised more than $100 million online for the nominee. Subsequently, Zack worked as a consultant to global NGOs, campaigns, and companies, and served as Wikipedia’s chief community officer and chief revenue officer. He lives in the Ozarks with his wife, Elizabeth, and daughter, Esther. For more information about Zack, Rules for Revolutionaries, and a downloadable, open-source teaching tool to help you implement change in your community, visit www.bigorganizing.com

CONNECT WITH THIS AUTHOR

Zach Exley on Twitter
Rules for Revolutionaries' Website

AUTHOR EVENTS

June 03, 2017

Becky Bond at Bay Area Book Festival

Downtown Berkeley, Berkeley, CA | Becky Bond
Becky Bond will speak at the Bay Area Book Festival as part of a session focused on the theories and practicalities of activism in a dangerous time.

See all Events by this Author

AUTHOR VIDEOS

Zack Exley | Lessons from the Sanders Campaign

Zack Exley is a political and technology consultant, co-founder and former president of the New Organizing Institute, and a Senior Advisor to Bernie Sanders. In his PDF 2016 talk, Exley explores organizing in a digital age and unleashing the power of many.

New Republic - Primary Concerns Podcast: Episode: Open Source Bernie

New Republic - Primary Concerns Podcast: Episode: Open Source Bernie

Rules for Revolutionaries

Pages:224 pages
Size: 5.375 x 8.375 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603587273
Pub. Date November 18, 2016

Available In/Retail Price

Paperback, 224 pages, $18.00