Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7
Brana takes an opportunity to remind attendees to download the app and vote on whether to formally form the party before introducing Green-turned-Democratic candidate Marianne Williamson. "There has been more truth-telling, in my opinion" than at both major-party conventions combined. The People's Party Convention is bringing up issues that the corporate parties are content to ignore, "like growing up in an alcoholic family." She's riffing on MLK's "living up to its creed" observations about the Declaration of Independence: revolutionary stuff, but written and embodied by slave-owning hypocrites. We have forces in this nation that have been tamping down those revolutionary principles; society has moved forward only when people have been brave enough to push back against those forces. Now channeling Bill Hicks: ...and we kill those people like MLK and RFK who take stands against injustice. The challenge for fighting current injustice: "It's not one institution; it's an entire economic mindset" imposed by the trickle-down economics that took root in the 1980s. "It did not lift all boats; in face, it created...people left without even a life vest." Love her use of the term "corporate aristocracy"—same thing the US fought to free itself from in the 18th century. She's comparing this movement to the moments that created the abolitionist, the suffragist, and the Civil RIghts movements. This is our moment. "We need an entirely new America." Despite her embrace of radical solutions, she's voting for Biden because she's convinced that Trump with a second term will be even worse: He's been holding back in his first term. (My diagnosis is that it will take an even more horrendous Trump presidency to wake people up and get them in the streets to dismantle this system. It ain't gonna be pretty.)
Four and a quarter hours elapsed, including the halftime break. This was originally scheduled to run two hours. I wonder how many other people have stuck with it all the way through.
This is the moment I've been waiting for: Dr. Cornel West. He says he's been following this show the entire time. "Lift every voice" from the depths of your soul; the echo chambers of the big-party conventions are not that voice. He's connecting the death of W.E.B. duBois with MLK's speech at the Lincoln Memorial just a few days later. MPP, whether it knows it or not, is a "fight-back" that arises from duBois's four essential questions (look 'em up) and telling the truth about America, the good and the bad. We are living at the intersection of multiple catastrophes or potential catastrophes, including the continued existence of world-ending nuclear weapons. He's name-checking tons of mostly black activists, musicians, writers, thinkers who put their fingers on the systemic problems of this nations that politicians have not had the courage to take up and find solutions. He's talking fast and in multiple directions within a single sentence, so I'm not transcribing anything verbatim or even trying to. I worry that people who don't recognize those name-checks won't get nearly as much out of this ultra-profound speech as they should. (Hell, he just mentioned "Brother Bob Avakian.") Now, at the end of his allotted time, he's getting around to explaining his position on the 2020 presidential race, similar to Williamson's (and Chomsky's and Angela Davis's), although he'd love to be able to vote for Hawkins/Walker.
Former Ohio state Senator Nina Turner represents a one-two punch with Dr. West: both unapologetically Christian and applying the morality of their faith to politics, both adept at the cadences that emanate from the pulpits of Black Churches. She's also invoking the names of artists and activists—Marvin Gaye, Langston Hughes—even reciting one of Hughes's poems about young people who will lay their lives on the line for truth, justice, and true peace). There are subtle differences of style though, as much in their movements and gestures as in their tempos and tonal variations. (She doesn't have West's patented we-sharin'-a-secret stage whisper.) Peace is the presence of justice, not just the absence of war: "How can we have peace" when we have all these blatant injustices from huge economic inequality to cops murdering with impunity? She was progressive to radical before she linked up with Bernie Sanders in 2016, but she has used that experience as a springboard to solidify her progressive-radical vision and distill it into words. "We got some dragons to slay, baby!"—the twin dragons of neo-fascism and neo-liberalism, as she has said in her recent interview with Anderson Cooper and other times. "We won't stand for a 'lousy peace' [Hughes's phrase] because we know that neo-liberalism is what got us here." Her vision now includes getting the #DemEnter and #DemExit progressive factions to unite, which will create a popular force that is unstoppable. She's not going to tell anybody how or for whom to vote (yay) but respect West's and Williamson's conclusions even if she disagrees with them. This respect is what makes this convention a beautiful thing: MPP also isn't going to tell its members how or for whom to vote, as long as they are ready to make the People's Party happen beginning in 2021. Turner is now closing with a quote from Barbara Jordan that she invokes frequently. "What the American people want is simple: They want an America that's as good as its promise."
Brana says now that 99% of those who voted on whether to form a new major party have said yes. We have just witnessed five hours of history. Now I challenge the Green Party leadership to see whether they will hitch the Green wagon to this star or stay in the political margins.
I gotta get some dinner now. Thank you, Nick Brana and the other 32 speakers.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 8
This is my first time seeing @ProudSocialist Ryan Knight anywhere other than on Twitter. Ryan is another wordslinger who had a epiphany in the last few years that neither corporate party is worth a damn, let alone worth his vote, and he sounds like a converted true believer complete with clear visions and dramatic inflections. He has thus far not been willing to say Vote Green instead, but he's all in for MPP. By this point in the convention it's hard to say anything that the other speakers haven't already said. "We won't change this nation just by changing our corrupt president...we have to change our whole corrupt system...we are all losing under the duopoly." If there's only one reason to point out, it's the upward redistribution of the nation's wealth that's been going on for 40 years. He's been going on for about ten minutes, but it seems like 40 years. (JK, LOL.)
Video time: Imagining what we could have if a true people's party took power—mostly summaries of the planks of the MPP platform (which is a lot like the Green Party's platform). Could be better, especially with the lack of grammatical parallelism in the several dozen policy points the voice-over narrator is ticking off.
Nick Brana is now detailing the hows and whys of forming this new party, starting with how COVID-19 has revealed just how the US government has failed us (like members of Congress investing in Zoom rather than passing legislation that actually helps people). The blood of 180,000-plus is on their hands. Brana has been a gracious host so far, but now he's bringing the passion. He's a good analyst, a dyed-in-the-wool wonk, but he's at his best when he combines his analysis with that passion. The US is, by the very definition, a failed state: can't provide even the basis of survival for its people. Congress has not officially responded to Black Lives Matter with legislation and has no plans to, because #BLM isn't a corporate contributor. The political revolution of the Movimiento Moreno in México can serve as an example for the People's Party revolution here (and similar movements in Spain, Chile, and Greece). The movements have grown by using social media, a tool that the Green Party has used but not as effectively as it might. With this convention #2 Trending on Twitter in the US, that's testament to MPP's social media acumen.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 7 | Part 8
The convention is taking a 10-minute break now, before some of the big-name speakers get their turns: Cornel, Nina, Jimmy, Marianne, Medea, Ryan (Knight), Chase (Iron Eyes), and Nick Brana himself. We're more than two and a half hours in, and Brana says this is halftime.
Chase Iron Eyes, Standing Rock activist, Bernie surrogate, found of Last Real Indians. It's not easy to type summaries of his speech on the fly. He's not about the applause lines, he's about the story. He's painting a very big and complicated picture about internal imperialism, which includes spiritual imperialism that European invaders have imposed upon indigenous peoples.
Everybody stand up and jag-off for Jimmy Dore! "Americans are going to decide whether to vote for a right-wing, racist pathological liar...or Donald Trump." "The current failed system has a noose around all of our necks...and it's up to us to save ourselves." There's been a lot of emotion in the speeches so far, but Jimmy is bringing the anger big-time. "Their (Democrats') candidate is the candidate of deregulation...mass incarceration...war...they are not the solution." "We are demanding policies that the majority of Americans want—how radical!" He's also bringing a lot of high-falutin' literary, philosophical rhetoric of that boils down to The people united will never be defeated. I am truly impressed."
Ah, our beloved Medea Benjamin, long ago a Green candidate for US Senate from California, who unfortunately is one of the lefty intellectuals pleading for us to vote for Biden to defeat Trump, though under no illusions that Biden is a good choice. "We need a party that's not in the clutches of the Military-Industrial Complex...." She's mostly sticking to her area of expertise, the morally bankrupt international policy of the US under both corporate parties. Cutting the Pentagon budget in half, she says, will actually make us safer (less likely to be targeted by the terrorists we've generated by bombing the shit out of their countries). We can learn something from Cuba, which sends not troops but doctors in response to natural disasters and epidemics.
Jerry Perez is a field director with Our Revolution Los Angeles, a group which made the quantum jump from disaffected Berniecrats supporting strictly progressive Democratic candidates to promoting MPP. He's illustrating the divisions within his community that result from the scarcity imposed by neoliberalism and lack of democratic empowerment. He came back from time in Iraq with the Marines to discover that the nation he fought for wasn't worth the PTSD that followed him, especially the way it treats veterans (like himself). He's showing the same anger that Jimmy Dore brought, but with less wit and more esprit de Corps, telling this fucked-up system ¡Ya basta! "We're going to do everything within our ability to insure that you have your future."
Eynelys Vinson is a candidate for Palmdale (CA) City Council—Palmdale being a rapidly growing city in the high desert near where Frank Zappa grew up. She's also a youngish Cuban immigrant who wants this country to live up to its small-d democratic promise for which she and her mother fled Castro's Cuba. She knows oppression and corruption when she sees it, and by gum she sees it here. She then breaks into Spanish, which she speaks beautifully and slowly enough for us gringos to understand.
Tim Black is another independent media personality who got his start doing stand-up. I prefer him in short form than long form. He tells us that the picture is simpler than we usually believe: "We need a new party because both parties suck, Johnson. They have been failing black people since we've been black people." More anger, plenty of f-bombs, but when he gets going he's so smooth in his presentation (even when he fumbles). Another one announcing that he's going to vote Green this year because his man Bernie has been screwed over yet again.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8
Maebe A. Girl, first drag queen elected to public office in the US (neighborhood council in Silver Lake CA) and challenger of Rep. Adam Schiff (!). Fascinating, just gonna watch and learn. She's saying, if you vote Blue (no matter who) this year, make it your last time.
Now Niko House is talking as if Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker don't exist. He's raising issues wherein neither corporate party or their candidates is taking the positions he advocates, but not mentioning that the Green Party scores almost 100% on those positions. Understandable, as (I believe) he's one of the YouTube opinionators claiming that Howie rigged the convention process and stiffed Dario Hunter. Major party choice offers "civility fascism and neo-fascism...the racist and the segregationist." MLK and Malcolm would say, screw both Trump and Biden. "You can have only one master in politics: It's the people or the money." Great leaders, in politics and elsewhere will side with the people.
Eighteen down, about a dozen to go.
Massey Branscomb, a Yang Gang activist with the Humanity First Movement who worked with MPP on the Occupy Congress program, is next. He's indulging in a multi-dimensional exercise to illustrate how Universal Basic Income benefits everybody, even the wealthy. Everybody gets a chance to grow. "Can you be a billionaire and still be good?" As an Andrew Yang supporter, he obviously thinks so, especially a billionaire who advocates fixing the rules to benefit the masses (and possibly even make him an ex-billionaire). He's even saluting @Jack (Twitter) Dorsey for giving away a substantial slice of his fortune for COVID relief in several less affluent countries.
Speaking of Basic Income, next up is Scott Santens, editor of Basic Income Today. "What has become Normal is not OK...It's time to draw a line." Let's start the "systemic, structural reforms." He's talking now about the fundamental human rights that the US has long essentially ignored. UBI is not just Universal, it's Unconditional Basic Income, "a foundational floor for everything else we need to do." I've never seen anyone speak so eloquently about the moral underpinnings of UBI. If I wasn't completely sold before, I certainly am now. "Duopoly is not democracy," so he's supporting the move to introduce Ranked Choice Voting making its way through the states, as well as multi-member districts and proportional representation, among other reforms.
Jesse Ventura. Cool. I'm taking a little break.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 5
A montage of videos submitted by regular folks who support MPP. I like this better than the high-production-value videos shown earlier. I think the first face was 2016 Green presidential candidate Bill Kreml. Remember to find this video and repost it, dbc.)
Mike Gravel couldn't make it, but comedian/Congressional candidate Lauren Ashcraft is subbing for him. "We live in a failed state. And that state was built by white. property-owning men" to operate in their interests. "You cannot fix something that was built to be broken...We're in an abusive relationship with our two-party system." And oh yeah, "All cops are bastards." Preach, sister. We can pay for all the progressive dream programs, mostly by stopping endless wars, but we have to start now. "We don't have to choose between bad and worse: We can choose change"
Brana: People's Party Convention is now #4 trending in the US!
Isiah James, another Congressional candidate from New York, not a stand-up comedian, an Iraq/Afghanistan veteran. Don't think you're going to win right away, or even that you'll live long enough to see victory, but let's get started moving forward for those who come after us. "It's a monumental task, but so was abolishing/overturning" name your favorite obsolete societal institution. The many reasons contributing to his deciding to run for Congress are the same as those that drew him to MPP.
Eleanor Goldfield...swoon. Oh no, she's going to read one of her poems! written for the occasion. Actually, it's not bad, kinda Whitman-esque and encouraging us to act on the needs of the People, damn the consequences; it's not the white-chick-affecting-hip-hop poetry that she typically spits on Act Out! "There's no Pause, no Rewind; Play."
Brana reminds us that "there is no revolution without art, without poetry, without dance, without songs." #2 Trending now.
Progressive Soapboxer Jamarl Thomas starts by talking about unemployment and its implications. The unemployment, like the riots in Kenosha (yes, he used that word), like the percentage of people of color incarcerated, result from policy choices made by the people we've elected to power. I haven't watched this guy in way too long, had forgotten how good he is—insightful and verbally gifted. "The only way out is to extricate yourself from the political parties." If you can't get Democratic leaders and nominees to advocate for a policy that 88% of the party supports, you may as well give up, "Any notion of representative government is dead."
Another Jimmy Dore comrade Ron Placone is up now. He provided entertainment for the Green Party's national convention in July. I didn't think stand-up would work over Zoom, but it did even though he was sitting down. He's actually using some of the same jokes, but that's OK. Gonna put this entry to bed now, run to the john, and then start Part 5.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4 | Part 5
Next speaker: Vermont US Postal Service union leader Omar Fernandez informs us that both corporate parties have been besieging the USPS for decades. Case in point: 2006, the PAEA that makes USPS fully fund 75 years' worth of pensions, which is causing the annual operating losses (USPS could be profitable otherwise). The American Postal Workers Union's Vermont Chapter endorses MPP. Wow. Influential people in both corporate parties have been concern-trolling, then saying, Sorry, we can't fix that problem because reasons. The people are standing up and fighting privatization of the Postal Service—amazing to behold. Lastly, we have power as people: Scripture tells us that we're gods; look it up. And even more lastly, the gospel of Marianne Williamson, about daring to let our lights shine. Powerful stuff.
We're just over an hour in, and Fernandez is the eighth speaker. His speech seems to be going longer than his predecessors. There are 33 speakers on the bill. Not sure this is going to end as scheduled.
Brana says MPP is all about representing workers, including of course postal workers.
Lee Camp appears via a pre-recorded live stand-up, f-bombs included. Trump is a symptom "of how fucked up shit has gotten." He's not the cause.
Brana announces that #PeoplesParty has cracked the Top 10 Trending on Twitter just now.
The awesome Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap of Move to Amend, longtime Green Party member, promotes the We the People Amendment (the sole focus of her organization): Corporations are not people with constitutional rights, and campaign contributions are not First Amendment–protected speech. We can make no progress until we end corporate rule; whenever government act in the people's interest, big corporations sue government, effectively guaranteeing that the people have no influence. Even though she's a Green, she enthusiastically supports the formation of the People's Party as a new major party.
Chris Hedges gets a lengthy introduction. The System has given us a choice: "...the concentration of oligarchic power under Donald Trump, or the concentration of oligarchic power under Joe Biden." "Only one thing matters to the oligarchs...the primacy of corporate power, which has extinguished our democracy and left most of the working class and the working poor in misery." Vote, sure, but also participate in civil disobedience (where actual democracy still happens). Now he takes Sanders to task for not joining the delegates who walked out of the Philadelphia Democratic Convention in 2016. Yes, he's using the term "sheepdog." Trump is a problem, sure, and worse than Biden in multiple ways; Biden is not the solution, however: more of the same. He ends by saying VOTE GREEN, not because we'll win, but for the reasons foregoing, and quoting himself about fighting fascists not because he thinks he'll win but because they're fascists.
Part 1 | Part 3
Comedian Graham Elwood, comrade of Jimmy Dore, gets a chance to rant about the twin horrors of the D and R Conventions and why the lesser of two evils argument is bullshit. Where else would the lesser of two evils even be satisfactory? he asks. It's like discovering that your only two choices to watch your kids for the night are a pedophile and a meth-head. And that whole impeachment thing? Srsly? Last point: Legalizing weed can help us avoid the civil war that this nation is on the brink of. Get people together and get 'em high, and reap the economic benefits like Colorado.
Brana: Who decided to give the Republicans two conventions this year?
Actor Danny Glover is worried about having to follow Elwood, but he's equal to the task. He's also speaking against US imperialism but more as a matter of rearranging the nation's fiscal priorities. He's even hinting at Richard Wolff–style (neo-Marxian) democratization of the workplace to empower working people.
Half of me wishes that Brana had decided to dress up a bit to MC this thing. He's just in a blue and white checked button-down shirt.
Climate scientist Peter Kalmus (memo to self: follow this guy on Twitter) reminds us that the future will be a terrifying place, with all the ways Mother Nature is reminding us that we have fucked with the climate beyond her level of tolerance: fires, floods, storms, heat waves, droughts, massive crop failures, etc. "It's not the new normal. We're on an escalator toward getting worse." Half-measures won't cut it, massive and swift reduction of fossil fuel use is required, along with a complete remaking of society. "This is a task of cosmic importance." Chris Hedges will have a tough time out–gloom & dooming this guy. @ClimateHuman.
The youngest speaker on the bill: National Student Coordinator, founder of Beyond Bernie Amaya Wangeshi. Her topic: the challenges and importance of organizing youth. She started in middle school, kinda like Greta Thunberg, motivated by anger and frustration at a world getting worse and authority figures not doing enough to reverse that. Adults can learn something from activist youth, their idealism, their understanding that compromise on climate and other existential issues is not an option (I agree).
Chris Smalls, leader of the Amazon walkout in NYC over COVID-19 concerns (now an ex-Amazon fulfillment center employee), founder of the Congress of Essential Workers. His labor activism and subsequent termination, he says, illustrates the intersection of capitalism and racism. Going to work for Jeff Bezos, probably worst decision of my life; rising up against unsafe working environments, best decision. He's calling for a minimum wage of $30/hour, which makes sense because the Fight for 15 is more than 15 years old, and the $15 has about half the buying power now. Media coverage of the demonstration at the Bezos residence focused more on the guillotine demonstrators brought than their actual message. As he reminds us, though, Bezos is not the only robber baron whose obscene wealth needs to be run through the guillotine.
Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8
I hope to post recordings of the speeches when they become available. Meanwhile, here are my impressions of the convention as it happens, subdivided into half-hour portions.
The opening sequence is pretty impressive visually, making the case for the necessity of a new major party.
Nick Brana's introductory speech: Announcement that MPP's list of subscribers just topped 100,000, 10,000 added just in the past week or two. He breaks down the failures of the R's & D's in greater detail.
At the end, attendees can vote whether MPP will turn into an actual party, but they have to download the app in order to vote. I hate that. Whose phone has space for an app for every damn thing?
Ten minutes in, more than 9,000 people are watching the convention on MPP's YouTube channel alone.
Another high-production-value video about how screwed up the US is and how screwed the world is under the Corporate Duopoly. It's not for the squeamish, includes video of police brutality in action at #BLM protests.
Health care activist Cheng-Sim Lim makes the case for Improved Medicare for All. She also recounts how she campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008 and her disappointment with his public option compromise that became the Affordable Care Act (aka the Massive Giveaway to Big Insurance and Big Pharma Act). Her experience with this month's Democratic Convention: Sanders delegates who were typing pro-M4A and pro–Green New Deal messages in the Chat panel of the Zoom window were blocked from posting. Surprised? Nope. (Brana adds that 75% of Sanders delegates refused to approve the platform.)
Next up, Hanieh Jodat, a Muslim civil rights activist, starts with a #BLM litany of black lives that were ended prematurely and tying it to the struggles of Muslims in the West and in their home countries, as well as to the peace movement and calls to defund the military (and militarized police). Migrant crises continue in Europe, caused mostly by US/NATO interventions. I'm glad to see someone speaking against US imperialism, something you wouldn't hear from speakers at the Democratic Convention. Oh, now she's talking about the cost to working people of our foreign military adventures and domestic police state, as it sucks money from programs of social uplift (as MLK would say).
This is from an email that arrived today from Hawkins/Walker:
Just before the clock ran out for challenges in Wisconsin, the Democrats filed a challenge on our petitions, saying that the address listed for Angela Walker was a false address.
The deadline for federal matching funds has just passed, but the campaign will not turn away your contributions of $2,800 or less just because it's not magically doubled.
Texas GOP Attempt to Knock Libertarians off the Ballot Fizzles
In related news, Texas Republicans tried some funky version of virtue signaling to show the world that they also want to uphold the law (HB 2504) by challenging Libertarian candidates who also didn't pay the new filing fees. (NOTE: The usual Houston Chronicle paywall.) But they waited until after the resolution of the Democrats' legal action to knock Greens off the ballot, by which time it was too late for the State Supreme Court to do anything. Not to spoil anything, but here are the very telling last two paragraphs:
Elliott Scheirman, a Libertarian running against Rep. Dan Crenshaw in Houston’s 2nd Congressional District, said the GOP suit is a “testament to the substantial growth and support” that the Libertarian Party has gained and proof that Republicans feel threatened.
This may look like a textbook example of GOP incompetence, but Kayleen observed (and I agree) that the GOP operatives know exactly what they're doing. As she put it, nobody has anything on the Republicans when it comes to voter suppression; it's a specialty of theirs.
And party suppression is voter suppression. Don't let anyone tell you it's not.
Plus, just about any district in which a Republican is running, including the district known as the entire state of Texas, is a safe district. Unlike the Democrats, who quake in their Luccheses at the prospect of facing opposition from the left, the GOP ain't worried about no Libertarian challengers.
Oh my freakin' goddess, y'all! This isn't the Jimmy Dore to whom we've grown accustomed. It might be Thich Nhat Hanh, Marianne Williamson, perhaps Caitlin Johnstone, or possibly even some extraterrestrial jag-off night-club comedian, disguised as Jimmy.
It's also devastatingly profound. I've heard a lot of sermons from a lot of UU ministers over the years (turnover at First UU Houston being what it is), including some very good to excellent sermons. This 30-minute rant beats them all. I shit you not, comrades, nor do I exaggerate.
Beyond that, the timing of it is appropriate, since I've been rewatching The Sopranos in order in recent months. Much of the premise of that program is Tony Soprano's resistance to acknowledging his shadow self, even though his shadow self is pretty much always in control.
He's gone grayer than the last time I watched one of his videos, which couldn't have been more than a few weeks ago. Embrace the gray, Jimmy. You're a sage now.
I remember seeing the Bobcat Goldthwait bit to which Jimmy refers somewhere in the middle, the one about gay-bashers being latently gay themselves, around 1992. If you can find a clip of it online, please link me up so I can watch it again.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.