You want a People's Revolution? Support The People's Convention in Philly, July 23rd!
The Democratic National Convention starts on July 24, 2016. But it's not the only convention in Philly. And it with won't be the only organization voting on a platform. Because if you want a platform for real progressives (and not the once every four year ones) to run on, you should ask the people what they want and let them vote on it.
And that is exactly what The People's Convention, to be held in the historic Arch Street Meeting House in Philadelphia on July 23rd, is all about. Today, as we speak, ordinary citizens, some of them delegates for Bernie Sanders, but many of them people who are simply fed up with our current sham democracy where both parties represent the interests of the 1 percent, are working to draft our own platform, one based on the concerns of the 99 percent. The People's Convention will be open to the public, and everyone will have the right to vote to ratify it. Here is a short list of policies that people voted for in an online poll to include in the People's Platform:
Getting Big Money Out of Politics
Healthcare for All
A Living Wage
College for all and Student Debt Relief
Income and Wealth Inequality
But why have a platform by the people, for the people and of the people? That's not just a rhetorical question and to answer it let me quote from the May 31st press release by the organizers of the event:
The People’s Convention is a pro-democracy event intended to set the stage for a new era of people-powered politics. Our plan is the ratification of a collectively written People’s Platform. This platform will consist of the issues which are most pressing to our country’s civic health.
We also hope to create a space for grassroots organizers and organizations to network and build relationships. This networking should establish the foundation of an ongoing movement intended to transform American politics for the better.
The marches and rallies planned for July 24-28, are all fine and good, but they won't have any lasting effect unless the political revolution that Bernie Sanders has helped inspire transforms itself into a viable, sustainable movement, one that can influence our politics at all levels, from the local to the national. It can't rely on one individual. Bernie himself has said repeatedly, real change can only come from the bottom up, not the top down.
The webpage for the People's Convention emphasizes the importance of creating a grassroots platform if we want to sustain a progressive political movement:
The People’s Convention in Philadelphia [is] a grassroots attempt to reclaim our democracy by uniting behind a common policy framework, rather than a personality or party. Leading up to our first People’s Convention this summer, grassroots organizers from around the country will work together to formulate a People’s Platform: a unifying set of ideas, beliefs, and values that will help define the movement.
This platform will also serve as a critical mechanism to hold elected officials accountable; public representatives who pledge to uphold this platform, but fail to do so through their votes and other public behaviors, will no longer be eligible to seek endorsement or support from The People’s Revolution.
As Jack Pollack, one of the co-founders of the organization, The People's Revolution, which is focused on making the The People's Convention a reality, said In These Times, the whole point is to insure that the movement sparked by Bernie doesn't end with Bernie:
The People’s Revolution envisions “Bernie without the Bernie,” says Jack “Jackrabbit” Pollack, who in October cofounded the group with fellow Sanders organizer Shana East. “What Bernie has shown us is that you can actually rally people around a set of policies that are really all going in a positive direction.”
The People’s Revolution sees Sanders as a critical partner in building a broad issues-based progressive movement to ensure the promise of the campaign—“A Future to Believe In”—becomes a reality. At the People’s Convention, the group plans to develop and ratify a People’s Platform to present to the Democratic National Convention and set an agenda for the broader movement.
That's right, actual Bernie Sanders' delegates will present this platform on the floor at the Democratic National Convention. Indeed, many of Sanders' pledged delegates are already involved in helping to draft the planks of the People's Platform. But they aren't the only ones.
Anyone can go to The People's Convention website and sign up to help out, and you don't need to live in Philadelphia to be involved. This is a nationwide effort in which anyone can participate. Even of you can't attend the People's Convention in Philadelphia, you can be involved in helping draft the platform, or spreading the word by volunteering for the Communications, Press and Social Media working groups. Or help out with fundraising.
So, who is behind this effort? I thought you'd never ask.
Jack "Jackrabbit" Pollack is a long standing activist for progressive organizations. Here is a photo of him and his bio:
Jackrabbit Pollack is a founding member of Interoccupy.net, affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement. In 2012, he participated in the grassroots disaster relief to hurricane Sandy known as Occupy Sandy. He has provided logistical support for groups fighting for racial justice such as SURJ, Ferguson Action, and Movement for Black Lives. In April of 2015, he began work as one of the core members of People for Bernie with whom he worked through July.
And here is the photo and bio of his co-founder, Shana East:
Shana East is a grassroots organizer located in Chicago, Illinois. Last year she began her foray into electoral politics, working on Chuy García’s mayoral campaign team. She then went on to be a founding member of People for Bernie, before co-founding the volunteer-run Illinois for Bernie and The People’s Revolution along with partner Jackrabbit Pollack in summer 2015. More recently, she was the Illinois Digital and Volunteer Coordinator on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
I support the People's Convention. I'm a volunteer working to spread the word on blogs, reddit and other forms of social media. I urge you to share this post on Facebook, or on Twitter, Instagram, reddit or on your own blog. If you belong to a progressive organization or volunteer group for Bernie, your organization can become a sponsor of the People's Revolution to network and cross promote each others event.
But even more than that, I urge you to make a tax deductible donation so that everyone who wants to attend the People's Convention, even homeless people, can do so free of any charge.
Your tax deductible donation doesn't have to be all that large to make a difference. I donated $10 when I signed up, but any amount, large or small, is welcome. Here is the link to their donation page: Donate to the People's Convention
The primaries are coming to a close soon. Bernie will be taking his campaign to the Democratic Convention. But we need to bring our revolution to Philadelphia as well, and not just by marching and attending rallies, but by working together through a truly democratic process to craft a set a principles, policies and values that we can all get behind. The People's Convention is a critical step in reclaiming our democracy from the 1 percent that has hijacked our political process by buying the support of politicians in both major parties. I ask for your help in any way you can, from volunteering, spreading the word or donating whatever amount you can, in order to make The People's Convention a success.
Thank you for your time,