Take Back the American Dream, Washington, DC
What place is more appropriate for planning how to take back the American dream in 2012 on an 18-month agenda than Washington, DC, our nation's capital, heart of all of our dreams?
The last time I attended this annual conference sponsored by the Campaign for America's Future (CAF), Take Back America was the catchy title. Well, we did that from 2008 to 2010, but somehow during those two years the Democratic Party split up into left and right, with the right wing in charge of health care while Kerry's motionless oblong features masked his wish for more. I have many unanswered questions about that, but we must stay on the amazing agenda of this first day of many fine words and discussions.
The conference began with a performance I was too late for, but quickly progressed to an inspirational speech by the co-founder and director of CAF, the indefatigable and highly gifted Robert Borosage.
He quickly got to the point: this conference is all about we the people, 98 percent or 99 percent of the U.S. population--the figure varied among the speakers. He spoke about town meetings last August that influenced even Tea Party representatives to moderate their extremist agendas, some "Democratic space in the heart of the belly of the beast."
"Jobs first" was the theme, to march for at the end of the conference on Wednesday, from the Dupont Circle Hilton, site of the conference, to the Capitol--holy cow; there's a shuttle I think even I will take.
Borosage leapfrogged over MLK to FDR, our place for this moment, quoting this outstanding president about the essentials for a free society, to which all Americans are entitled: an education, a job with benefits that include retirement income and health insurance--in short, the white picket life that has become a shadow of the past.
Today 25 million citizens are either unemployed or work part-time, one in four homes are threatened with foreclosure, one-half the jobs in this county lack retirement benefits, and our educational system is in shambles, with our college debt astronomical.
A "manmade defeat." He wryly quoted Obama's words last week to the effect that no millionaire should pay taxes at a rate higher than his/her secretary.
In this new "plutonomy," one Midas can have more wealth than do 90 percent of Americans put together.
For three decades, conservative ideology has worked to crush unions, promote entrenched corporate interests. Today we pay twice as much for health care as do Europeans, and yet they receive better service from a government that knows its place, to serve the people.
At least: we kept Bush from privatizing social security, took back Congress in 2006, and installed the most progressive Speaker of the House in history, Nancy Pelosi.
Our challenge is to get around Obama's shortcomings.
The Tea Party is a cover for the opposition to our agenda; its agenda is to tax the poor.
And what are we doing here for the next three days and more than building a people's movement to reclaim the dream.