My adventure to the Nation’s Capitol, with a fantastic 1-day conference hosted by Campaign for America’s Future, “Summit on Jobs and America’s Future” and a Democratic Municipal Officials conference where I will be leading a training session on speaking as a surrogate. You can find a pdf of my training materials for the DMO session here. Much of the following was written at a fantastic new DC coffee shop, Pound Coffee, which is very close to the Eastern Market metro stop. Did I mention the owner is a fantastic Young Democrat? (Karl, my drinks are free now right?)
The Summit on Jobs was a fantastic presentation of a great variety of brilliant presenters, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Van Jones, Represenative Keith Ellison (MN), Representative George Miller (CA), Mayor Antonio Villaragosa (Los Angeles), and both an economist and a pollster that I liked, Robert Pollin (Umass-Amherst) and Celinda Lake (Lake Research Partners). There were a number of other great presenters as well, it was informative, entertaining and well executed, a great job by the folks at Campaign for America’s Future.
I didn’t take notes at the Summit, I did live tweet throughout, so now you will get the results of that, with additional commentary.
The first bundle of tweets above, the top tweet, which occurred chronologically last in the sequence, is mis-attributed to Campaign for America’s Future’s Co-Director Robert Borosage, it was actually a statement by Umass Amherst Economist Robert Pollin. The four tweets in the next block below are all from Robert Pollin’s presentation, mis-attributed to Borosage. My apologies to both gentlemen.
In the set below, there is a tweet with the attribution correction, the 3rd tweet down is also from Pollin, not Borosage. The first tweet relates to Pollin’s discussion of the unemployment situtation in 1981-82 and the failures of Reagan’s economic policies. I’ll take this opportunity to put my favorite Reagan quote on labor:
“They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost. They remind us that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. You and I must protect and preserve freedom here or it will not be passed on to our children and it would disappear everywhere in the world. ” — Ronald Reagan, former President of the Screen Actors Guild, Labor Day, 1980
It seems clear that President Reagan would see Governors Walker, Kasich and Scott (WI, OH and FL respectively) as well as the GOP’s national leaders to be enemies of Freedom. I disagree with President Reagan on nearly everything else, on this point though, he was correct.
The next block is from the presentation by Celinda Lake, the polling numbers she cited and the ideas she presented were both the support for progressive candidates and the foundations of strategies that can lead progressive candidate to victory. The last (top) tweet is the one that really puts everything in perspective, by 2 to 1, American’s believe the next generation will be worse off than they are. That is both a sad state of affairs for our nation and a positive reflection on the awareness of voters. They are starting to see a bit further down the road and understand that long term outcomes are not all that rosy. Celinda Lake dropped in a nice aside suggesting Robert Pollin run for the US Senate seat in Massachussets currently held by Republican Scott Brown. I’d support that notion, an intelligent progressive economist would have a profound impact on the Senate.
The Keynote speaker of the Summit was Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, and he did not disappoint. He spoke about the politics of fear, the corruption of officials catering to the greedy demands of their super-wealthy donors, and the positive values of the American Labor Movement. He closed by squelching a Fox News Reporter’s attempt to distract from the evil behavior of Governor Walker and the GOP with finger pointing at President Obama. President Obama didn’t bolt the windows shut to keep protesters from getting food/water. President Obama didn’t lock the doors keeping not only protesters, but elected legislators out of the Wisconsin Capitol. President Obama didn’t subvert democracy to pass a legislative agenda of greed and corruption. I’d like President Obama to do more, but not more of the intolerant, greedy and just plain evil propaganda that Fox News pushes. He can start with media reform, there’s nothing “news” about the Murdoch and Ailes Propagana Network.
On the next panel Robert Kuttner of the American Prospect made some great points about the current state of public opinion with regard to labor and the disfunction within the Democratic Caucus of our Federal Legislature. He called Third Way out for what it is, a mechanism for selling out Democratic Values for the benefit of Corporate America’s wealthiest. In his words, “the spiritual successor to the DLC.”
Kate Gordon, VP for Energy Policy at the Center for American Progress, made a great presentation about the economic opportunites in moving to a greener America, the benefits to workers and investors. She called for the elimination of all subsidies for Oil and Coal industries, redirecting all of those funds to clean energy research and development.
Representative George Miller of California’s 7th Congressional District delivered what Representative Keith Ellison later referred to as a “stemwinder.” Miller spoke of the systematic approach Republicans are taking to stripping communities of resources from the top down, putting the governing a the local level, such as by Mayor Antonia Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, in to a constant situation of impossible decisions. He talked of how the GOP is intent on blaming hard working Americans for the crimes of big banks and the super-greedy, at the behest of their donors. He spoke of the tragedy of the entension of the Bush Budget Busters and how the wealthiest corporate tycoons are trying to impose a new “China price” on American Labor, driving wages down to unlivable levels in the interest of excessive profiteering.
Represenative Ellison opened with a reminder of his home state hero, Hubert H. Humphery’s governing philosophy, as summed up by the following quote:
“The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
Ellison went on to note that if the GOP was interested in creating jobs, they would have submitted at least one jobs bill by now, rather than wasting so much time on ceremonial displays and ideological vendettas.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa started by telling us he was going to abandon his speech and tell a different story. The story was one he has told many times before, about his grandfather coming to America 100 years ago with the shirt on his back and little else. Through hard work and relentless dedication, his grandfather provided for his family, later his father did the same, allowing Antonio the opportunity to succed and become the Mayor of the great city he was raised in. He also spoke about the brutal decisions he has had to make, cutting 4,000 of 14,000 civilian employees as the funding mechanisms for his city have been choked off by the state and Federal government, as Representative Miller had described earlier.
Villaraigosa spoke of how as a child, he was a latch-key kid, that the local library was their day care center. He went there every day after school and waited for his mother to pick him up when she got off work. Mayor Villaraigosa has a plan, America Fast Forward, which you can read more about here.
Van Jones closed out the show with his tremendous oratory capacity spinning a fantastic narrative of the origins of “Hope” (2003), the first steps to developing a progressive infrastructure as they unfolded in 2005/2006 and where we need to go from here. His new American Dream is a vision of the better nation we want for the generations that come after us. He emphasized that the phrase “homeless veteran” needs to be gone from our vocabulary, we need to do everything possible to make sure every veteran returning from war (as well as all of our young people) can find a job in the private sector, or if needed, create public sector jobs for them, similar to the notion of a 21st Century WPA mentioned throughout the day.
These two statements from Van Jones are emblematic of his leadership, empathy and strength wrapped in a graceful eloquence:
The Summit was fantastic and similar events should be held around the country. Campaign for America’s Future did a tremendous job organizing and executing this event. If you aren’t following their actions, you should subscribe to their email list now and start visiting their website regularly.