Take Back America Conference I
Whew! What a day! I spent today at Day 1 of the Take Back America conference and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. My head is swimming with plenty of thoughts about what I saw and heard that I probably will spread out my report on the conference in two or three posts.
I only could afford this one day so I will miss appearances by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich as well as I am sure plenty of interesting sessions. But that is OK. I had a good twelve and a half hours of straight conferencing done.
I attended these sessions:
• Opening Plenary: Our Time Has Come
• The War of Ideas: A New Economics for America
• We’ve Got Issues: Young People in Action
• FairVote: National Popular Vote
• Plenary Session: The New Populist Energy
One of the questions I wanted to answer for myself when I first set out to go to this conference was whether or not I saw a role for Independents and non-affiliated people in the Progressive movement. Whether or not I see the Progressive movement’s agenda as being inclusive of Independents.
• In the speech by Robert Borosage of Campaign for America’s Future in the opening plenary, he showed a chart of the building blocks of the Progressive Agenda and movement. One of the items were Independents.
• Progressive Reform was defined, again by Borosage, as an “Independent Movement” from both major parties. That it has to go beyond party politics.
• In the presentation by Rich Trumka of the AFL-CIO, he defined the Progressive and Labor Agenda as “more than just throwing out Republicans and electing Democrats.”
• The presence of Senator Bernard Sanders, the lone true Independent in Congress
So all in all, to answer the question of is there room for Independents in the Progressive movement, it seems to be “yes.” The Progressive movement, as expressed in the TBA conference, is invoking language that in order to truly push a Progressive agenda forward, that the movement must go beyond party politics in order to appeal to most American voters (a lot of whom are not affiliated with either major party). Now that effectively translates to vote Democratic rather than Republican in the next elections. But the crux of what I got from the conference is that the movement’s job is to make sure that the right types of Democrats are the ones in line for our votes.
Is that good enough for many, if not most Independents? I don’t know. I can’t speak for every other Independent out there. But I do come out of the conference feeling good, with a lot of energy, and optimistic about the road ahead to the 2008 elections.