This past weekend I travelled to Chicago to get a much needed fix at the 2nd annual People’s Summit held at McCormack Convention Center. I was enticed to go for several reasons, Bernie Sanders, Nina Turner, Amy Goodman, Jim Hightower and 4,000 Bernie supporters and the many hats I wear, Our Revolution-RI, RI Progressive Democrats and my fight to stop the Clear River Center in Burrillville.
It was a big ole Bernie reunion. Hundreds of former delegates attended, a high percentage of millennials and a beautiful mix of people from all socioeconomic backgrounds, and all 50 states. Yes, Bernie and company had a convention with 46% people who identified themselves as Non-White. It was a welcome change from some of the previous events I have attended.
The weekend focused on the next steps on continuing the political revolution and organizing techniques for conference goers to take back home with them. There were great roundtable and training sessions. I attended several including “Winning Clean Energy and Climate Justice for All” and Multi-Front Organizing for the Political Revolution. Major speakers included Nina Turner, Van Jones, Linda Sarsour and of course Senator Bernie Sanders and Jane his wife.
Throughout the convention, which ran from June 8th at 9:00am to Sunday at 3:00pm conference goers were taken care of. The food was fabulous and vegans like myself were not disappointed. Left leaning organizations tabled at the event from Democratic Socialists, Bernie or Bust to sponsors Our Revolution, Progressive Democrats of America, Food and Water Action Fund, The Nurses Union and local Reclaim Chicago. There were book signings, selfie stations and zero corporate presence… a far cry from last year’s DNC convention which was nothing but one big commercial.
The contrast between this and the DNC convention in Philadelphia was like night and day. People were for the most part united in wanting to move the Democratic Party to the left and have a progressive agenda. There were also, many who called out the DNC and the rigged primaries, #NotOverIT was apparent. The contempt for Trump was another very common theme. There were definitely skeptics and those who wanted Bernie to start a people’s party and split altogether from the democrats. Some concerns were pointed out as well, no speakers from the Green Party and not enough panelists from the LGBT community and unfortunately there was too much waste on the part of the caterers. These points were extremely valid and hopefully will be rectified at next year’s summit.
For me it filled the void that had overcome me, the depression, anxiety and helplessness that has consumed me since the election. It rejuvenated my desire to make sure the progressive message is heard in Rhode Island. It won’t be an easy task. Our supposedly blue state is made up of too many corporatist democrats, exactly what Bernie and followers are fighting against… and oh the obstructionists. Our Progressive General Assembly members work too hard in writing bills that are tabled by conservative democrats who won’t even allow votes to happen. This is what as progressives we must fight and have a united voice on. Enough is enough and we are not going to take it any more. RI still feels the Bern and we’ll make sure Bernie’s message stays in the forefront.
For more information on the People’s Summit and to stream many of the great forums and break out sessions go to https://www.pplsummit.org/.