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Galindez writes: "Over 4,000 progressives gathered in Chicago this weekend for the People's Summit. We learned a lot about the base support of Bernie Sanders - they are still with him, and they are still not happy with the direction of the Democratic Party."

Bernie and Jane Sanders at the People's Summit. (photo: Aaron Cynic/Chicagoist)
Bernie and Jane Sanders at the People's Summit. (photo: Aaron Cynic/Chicagoist)

People's Summit to Dems: Follow Us

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

13 June 17


ver 4,000 progressives gathered in Chicago this weekend for the People’s Summit. We learned a lot about the base support of Bernie Sanders – they are still with him, and they are still not happy with the direction of the Democratic Party.

During the keynote address of the three-day conference Bernie said, “The current model and the current strategy of the Democratic Party is an absolute failure.”

“The Democratic party needs fundamental change,” said Sanders. “What it needs is to open up its doors to working people, and young people, and older people who are prepared to fight for social and economic justice.” He added that the party “must understand what side it is on. And that cannot be the side of Wall Street, or the fossil fuel industry, or the drug companies.”

Sanders received his loudest applause when he called the Democratic Party model a failure. There were also “Draft Bernie” chants, which refer to an effort to recruit Bernie to form a new party.

When it was over, he gave the microphone back to Rose Ann DeMoro. “I want to say to the Draft Bernie people: I’m with you,” she said. DeMoro leads National Nurses United, one of the conveners of the People’s Summit.

Bernie and Jane Sanders smiled awkwardly, and DeMoro shrugged. “Heroes aren’t made,” she said. “They’re cornered.”

The next morning, Nina Turner took the over 4,000 activists to church. She echoed Bernie’s criticism of the current model of the Democratic Party.

“There comes a time when you have to worry more about the next generation than about the next election. We are not going to have unity just for the sake of unity.” I wasn’t going to talk about the Democrats, but I’m going to talk about the Democrats. Turner said the Democrats are the party that is supposed to stand up for the people. You have to beg Democrats to pass Medicare for All in California, where Democrats are in control, not the Russians or Republicans.

Turner continued, “I’m talking to Democrats, a party that claims to support diversity but only comes to the African American community every four years…. You can’t just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. We are going to take a page from Janet Jackson: ‘What have you done for me lately?’ I’m talking to the Democrats!”

“If they ever want to win again, if they ever want to win back those 1100 seats that they lost, if we ever want to regain governor’s mansions across this great nation, we cannot just talk the talk and whisper sweet nothings to folks, what we have to do is show that when we are in power, the lives of people will change. I am talking to Democrats.”

The message we have to take from Bernie and Nina is to fight for the future and support the party that follows us! We don’t need to follow a political party. The movement must continue to move forward and not wait for Democrats – if they want our votes they need to open the doors and let us in to lead them to victory.

We have the message and vision that the American people are ready for. Phony Trumpism tapped into the people’s desire for some of our vision. They want jobs that allow them to support their families with comfort. They want health care they can afford without going into debt so executives at Blue Cross can get rich. They don’t want to go into debt to send their children to college. They want leaders who are working for them and not the billionaire class.

Some voters thought they were getting that with Trump. He was going to drain the swamp, bring back jobs, and give them better health care. What was the Democrat’s message? If it had been our progressive message, we would have won!!

A new leader also emerged at the summit. I knew progressives loved Jane Sanders, but this weekend she emerged as a leader. She was everywhere all weekend. On Saturday she led a panel with Danny Glover, Amy Goodman, and Katrina vanden Heuvel like a seasoned talk show host. She was there to welcome everyone Friday night. She was there all day Saturday meeting people at the Sanders Institute booth and was in the front when Nina spoke on Sunday morning. I got a chance to ask her a couple of questions. Note that while she said it was too early to talk about 2020, she didn’t rule it out.

Even if Bernie decides to not run in 2020, he has helped to build a movement that will one day take power. The 4,000 people gathered at the People’s Summit were not just there to hear Bernie speak. They were there for three days of panels and workshops dedicated to building a movement. The message this event should send to the Democratic Party is the Political Revolution is real, and if they don’t follow they might just get stepped over.

Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador's slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush's first stolen election. Scott moved to Des Moines in 2015 to cover the Iowa Caucus.

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