Agenda for Monthly Progressive Business Meeting
24 Mill St., Newark, OH
- Introduction (10 Mins. 7:00-7:10)
- Fair Districts = Fair Elections (10 Mins. 7:10-7:20)
- Reforming the party (30 Mins. 7:20-7:50)
- Democracy Day (20 Mins. 7:50-8:10)
- Summer of Labor (20 Mins. 8:10-8:30)
- Coordination with other progressive groups (20 Mins. 8:30-8:50)
- Miscellaneous (10 Mins. 8:50-9:00)
- Adjourn (9:00)
Review of Progressive Meeting
- The group discussed the problem with current media “distractions”. Noted that while the Russian investigation as well as the unprecedented disregard for the rule of law by President Trump are indeed worthy of attention, this issue dominating 90% of the media’s focus keeps us from dealing with the plethora of matters affecting the lives of working people.
- It was even pointed out that the healthcare debate – though it is a crucial issue which does have an impact on the lives of everyone – has absorbed almost all of the airtime not set aside for the Russia coverage.
- In the meantime, we hear little to nothing about our trade agreements – such as how multinational corporations are empowered to use a team of lawyers to sue national governments for laws which they interpret as overly burdensome -, though the post-Trump outcry can be applauded for helping to kill the TPP while also stalling the rise of fascism here.
- We also discussed the ongoing battle of ads for and against this November’s ballot issue pertinent to prescription drug prices. It was pointed out that the debate has been confusing from both sides of the matter. This particular debate alongside the ads related to it was highlighted as an example of the corruptive influence of money in our politics and how it dilutes meaningful and intelligent debate. One member noted that the language for this issue is similar to a measure which failed in California last year, despite having support from Senator Sanders. Apparently the ODP is supportive, though this needs to be confirmed. Members agreed that we need to learn more about this issue as we decide whether we want to support it.
- On the Fair Districts = Fair Elections initiative petition (which was unveiled to have successfully passed its needed threshold for our county after this meeting) it was pointed out that the petition drive didn’t meet its goal in time to get on the 2017 ballot, but it was shooting for a new deadline on September 1st for the 2018 ballot (the real deadline is July of next year). We discussed the lessons we learned from the previous petition drives – under the “99% of NECO” umbrella – on the failed initiative to deal with Citizens United. The biggest lesson we learned was that EDUCATION IS KEY, and we agreed that hosting educational events on a regular basis pertinent to money in politics/”Citizens United” (such as what we are doing with the Democracy Day event on 9/17/17, for which we will be hosting a series of Committee meetings next month to plan and advertise) and even using the extra time between now and November 2018 to educate the public on gerrymandering would be best. Part of this effort should take the form of organizing an extended letter writing campaign relative to both threats to our democracy.
- We discussed how the Democratic Party – the only viable option that Progressives have in the current two-party system, which now serves as the “opposition party” – is in dire need of reform at all levels, primarily to make it more inclusive. One thing that was brought up is that talking about 2016 and the travesty of that campaign year must not be discouraged, because we need to work together to correct the numerous flaws which undoubtedly produced the disaster that we saw last year. If we hope to avert disaster in 2018, 2020, and beyond, the Democratic Party must not pretend like 2016 didn’t happen, because it leaves many wounds open. We pointed out how it is imperative that the Democratic Party cater to its purported base – the working class – in like fashion to how the Republican Party fears angering their own base. In the spirit of the progressive ideals of the working class’s greatest champion ever to hold the White House – FDR -, it was said that the Democratic Party must solidify itself as the party which looks at the oligarchs and says that it “welcome[s] their hatred”. The danger, as it was discussed, is that certain defeat awaits us in future elections if we only “resist” without a positive message to explain how we will take this nation down a better path for us all when the dust settles from said resistance.
- As an extension of this discussion, it was agreed that the numerous injustices of 2016’s nominating process – particularly with respect to the superdelegates – must be addressed in an attempt to placate the need for the people to see that the Party is ready to change for the better. Also, given the political reality of our political system, it was mentioned that the goal of progressives ought to be an organized effort to mobilize a grassroots reform of the Democratic Party and to abandon any ill-fated goals of joining or forming a third party (some lessons learned from Jill Stein’s pitiful and nakedly self-serving attempt at siphoning disgruntled Bernie delegates at last year’s convention were highlighted). Part of this reform drive consists of so-called “Berniecrats” coming together to look at the ODP’s state central committee. Furthermore, we discussed – related to this call for reform and the references to superdelegates for presidential nominations – that the Party absolutely MUST stop endorsing ANY candidates implicitly or explicitly before the voters have had a chance to weigh in via their primary election vote.
- The group also discussed our need to coordinate with other groups in the area. We pointed out the “Indivisible” faction and applauded its success in certain fields, but frustration was expressed that they appear predominantly fixated on the “resist” message without addressing what comes next. There was solid praise for the efforts of Strong Voices Rising, with their tendency to try and focus on individual issues, and even crafting a message and vision for the future (in other words, they are part of everything that is right with the progressive backlash to 2016).
- Associated with the coordination discussion was a lot of praise for everything that the Newark Think Tank on Poverty has accomplished. Yet again, this is an example of an organization which represents everything that is good in community organizing, and so too is the Freedom School of Licking County. We expressed a desire to do more with both organizations – especially the Think Tank -, getting more involved therewith, and even using them as somewhat of a resource to help gauge the contemporary feelings and needs of working people; which is given a voice in the community by the Think Tank and given the tools to speak out and organize by the Freedom School. Our goal is to make it clear that the “Bottom Line” – which we defined in our discussion as the ability of average people to survive and provide for loved ones – is what must take precedence over all other discussions in the political arena. The working class is struggling to get a “seat at the table” (aided and often secured by the Think Tank’s efforts) and the knowledge of how to defend their rights when they are there (often as instructed by the educational efforts by the Freedom School), and what they need in the end to ensure that their voices will be heard, respected, and ultimately obeyed are champions of the causes for which they care.
- The Think Tank is a growing organization – getting about 50 people at some of their meetings – and the Freedom School has experienced a lot of success in getting attendance at their events such as the “Third Thursday” educational films and follow-up discussions, but these organizations can’t tell the people they inspire and empower who the best candidates are in any election, because they are nonprofits. Our role is to fill this void that these organizations are forbidden from filling, but to also hold accountable the Party which wants their votes. It was agreed that the future of our progressive movement and maybe even our democracy are at stake if we fail to engage these struggling masses and take up their cause as our own. Accordingly, it was noted at the end of the meeting that we need to ponder a means of endorsing progressive candidates and causes, but must first look into what election laws may or may not say about our ability to do so.
- Final note: there will be no regular business meeting in August. Instead, for the purpose of planning the Democracy Day event on September 17th (Sunday) and planning the initial round of Summer of Labor events we will be holding two committee meetings (all are welcome to attend) on the following Tuesdays at 7pm, 24 Mill St., Newark, OH each: August 1st and August 15th.