Move to resist new US policies

John Wojcik

Senator Bernie Sanders told thousands gathered at Chicago on June 10 for the People’s Summit, that President Trump poses an unprecedented threat to democracy and to the very lives of 99 percent of the U.S. population. To a standing ovation, he declared a political revolution is underway to replace right wing Republicans across the nation with progressives who represent the people rather than a handful of oligarchs.
“Trump campaigned as a supporter of the working class, but within hours of assuming office he put the president of Goldman Sachs in as his chief economic adviser,” Sanders said. “Do not tell us, Mr. Trump, that you are a friend of the working class while you try to throw 23 million people off of healthcare,” he declared. “Do not tell us you are a friend of the working class while you cut $800 million out of Medicare and kick two and a half million people out of Planned Parenthood. “Do not tell us you are a friend of the working class when you give the Waltons (owners of Walmart) who have 130 billion dollars, a tax break of 52 billion. That is morally obscene.”
Sanders struck a hopeful note, however, by recalling movements throughout American history that were able to turn things around. “Just 150 years ago, workers in this country were essentially beasts of burden,” he said, “and by starting the long struggle to form trade unions, the fight to get the vote for women, to end Jim Crow, to win health care for more people, we are positioned today for succeeding in our political revolution.”
He noted that legislation to raise the minimum wage nationally to $15 an hour already has been cosigned by 31 U.S. senators and 155 representatives in the House. He listed numerous electoral victories that have already thrown a wrench in the works of the Trump agenda. Sanders polled the crowd of thousands from the stage, asking how many of them were either running for office or working on campaigns to unseat right-wing Republicans in special elections and in the coming 2018 elections. More than half the audience stood up and applauded.
Sanders noted, however, that a lot of work remains if the Democratic Party is going to be able to rebuild itself. He pointed to Republican control of two-thirds of the governorships, the House, the Senate, the presidency and the loss by Democrats of 1,000 state legislative seats across the country. “We can’t be absent from half the country,” he declared, calling for a grassroots strategy of rebuilding the party from the ground up in all 50 states. “And just as important,” he said, “the Democratic Party has to be the party of the people, supporting the people’s agenda, not corporate lobbyists who back some of them.” He said that parties committed to workers do best when they put forward progressive programs, “not when they forget which side they should be on.” He said the strong fight on the issues by the Labour Party in Britain was the reason it gained so many votes in the recent election there. Sanders called for elimination of corporate money in elections and an end to control of the government by what he described as a “dangerous” oligarchy.
What was heartening was that thousands of progressive activists held a three day gathering in Chicago on June 9-11, determined to take the already impressive national mass movement against the Trump agenda several huge steps forward.
At the “People’s Summit”, folks who have already played leading roles in mass actions coast to coast hammered out plans for a program that goes beyond resistance to Trump, whom they unanimously consider to be the most corrupt and dangerous person ever to have occupied the Oval Office.
Conveners of the summit included National Nurses United, People’s Action, United Students Against Sweatshops, The People for Bernie, Our Revolution, United Electrical Workers union, Color of Change, Progressive Democrats of America, Democratic Socialists of America and Million Hoodies.
Carmen Perez of the Justice League NYC and Linda Sarsour, former director of the Arab American Association of New York, key organizers of the largest demonstration in U.S. history, the Women’s Marches that occurred the day after Trump was inaugurated, both addressed enthusiastic crowds on Saturday night. Perez pointed out that what was different about this conference is that participants are spent three days building “power.”
“This includes taking concrete steps for further progressive movement building, including candidate training, independent political action, civil disobedience, educational workshops and how to build unity in mass actions,” she said.
Sarsour called for unity of all the movements that have been taking on the Trump agenda, declaring, “We must take care of each other, and unity is the only way that we can make any progress.”
Many attended a workshop on fighting attacks on democracy. In the minds of thousands who were here those attacks include, but go well beyond, hacking scandals that the media is focusing on. There was deep concern about the attacks on voting rights, women’s health care, civil liberties, the right to organize unions, civil rights, LGBTQ rights and many other issues. The wealth gap and control of the U.S. economy by a small group of home-grown oligarchs was seen here as a major threat to democracy.
Another highlight on June 10 was “The People Speak,” featuring an all-star lineup of actors and musicians celebrating the often neglected working-class history of the United States. Performers included Hong Chau, Jesse Eisenberg, Frances Fisher, Laura Gomez, Brian Jones, Melissa Leo, Aasif Mandvi, Susan Pourfar, Kendrick Sampson, and Wallace Shawn.  (IPA)

Sunday, 18 June, 2017