The contest for the Democratic Party's nomination for president is over. Nearly everyone who will be voting around this country for a presidential nominee now has voted. Hillary Clinton has won enough delegate votes to win the nomination, including a strong majority of the pledged delegates. Most of the Bernie Sanders campaign staff is being laid off.
It was a strong race; it's over.
But for the Bernie Sanders campaign, this doesn't have to be it. There's an alternative to simply disbanding and going home.
It shouldn't disband.
The idea would mean transforming this temporary campaign for a party's nomination into a political action force, a force to elect Democrats that will back their goals and apply pressure on Democrats that weaken on them.
We've seen outside forces have major effects in recent years. The Occupy forces had real impact; they may have fizzled as a direct political action group, but they transformed the way many people thing about the economy and society in this country. The Tea Party may have been less coherent, but their activism made a real difference in political races all over this country.
Imagine now a force that has what neither of those two had:
A clear, worked-out vision both of what is wrong and steps that ought to be taken to correct it.
A well-structured organization, at the national down to the local level, in all 50 states.
A strong funding mechanism to pay for employees and fund campaigns.
The Sanders campaign has all those things, and more. It even has a person at the top who - for now - could set a general tone and approach and mediate between conflicting points of view.
The opportunity is there to build a strong organization that could put pressure on a Clinton Administration to remember promises made, and to deliver political clout in support when that administration is trying and struggling to get those things done. It could affect the course of the 2018 congressional elections, which as matters stand may continue the frustrating ding-dong approach of elections that cut in different directions every two years.
A chance for affecting the course of near-term American history is there for the Sanders people, in the weeks and months to come.
If they don't let it slip from their grasp.