PDNC Convention Highlights

Saturday was amazing! Sec. Elaine MarshallWe were treated first to Sec. Elaine Marshall’s sharp-witted down home talk, “I understand the people of North Carolina” she said and then told a story of when she was first elected to office.

The only video I got of her speech was that folksy tale of her predecessor who called himself the oldest Rat in the DemocRAT party...It’s charming but I’m still trying to figure out how to post to Youtube.

Next, the fabulous Sacrificial Poets, a team of 13-19 year olds that compete in the Youth International Slam Poetry Team representing Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina performed a stunningly powerful set, a sample below for your enjoyment. I encourage you to see one of their many live performances next chance you get. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmX2liXxIqY
and more here:

David Donnelly, National Campaigns Director, Public Campaign Action Fund and Director, Campaign Money Watch
PDNC,David Donnelly
talked about the need to change the paradigm of campaign fund raising. He says “There’s a crisis in Congress”, a crisis in the mad ongoing rush to secure enough money for bloated campaigns. It has finally gotten to the point of opportunity. The amount of time each politician must spend to get cash has become unsustainable and unacceptable to them. It has actually become a quality of life issue with no solution but to pour in more and more time. Campaign finance reform should be a welcome thing to some of them.

Donnelly's campaign for Fair Elections is the face of today's reform. Sponsored by Leader Senator Richard Durbin, and Rep Larsen in the house. Larsen is the Democratic Caucus Chair
The Fair Elections Now bill HR 1826 S-752
has now has been signed on to by either our own Rep. Brad Miller- D or Rep.David Price-D (I’m trying to get clarification here) as well by Rep. Walter Jones -R. We sincerely hope that Rep. Mel Watt-D will feel secure enough in his district to add his name to this effort too.

Jack Sanders presented a Strategy Proposal and Plan of Action that had been in the works for months to be evaluated and amended by the rest of the group with small breakout discussions and recommendations made and incorporated. Everyone put much creative effort into this effort and I hope to post all of the excellent ideas that came forth in their raw form on the PDNC website soon so we can keep developing them.

During lunch, we were treated to more brilliance from the Sacrificial Poets. We learned that snapping your fingers is the appropriate way to show appreciation during a performance. I, for one, will certainly never look at poetry quite the same way again. It was mind altering.

Gene Nichol, Professor of Law and Director of the Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity, among his many other illustrious accomplishments, Gene Nichol PDNC convention
gave a passionate discourse on the state of our Democracy. “ Something will fill the vacuum left by failed Reagonomics.” We must show how the “shareholder” model is undemocratic and ultimately not what America is about. It will take a vigorous groundswell of the grassroots to take back the “power and the pie”

Gene really laid out the danger of the Supreme Court's potential upcoming
ruling to overturn the restrictions on corporations to use money directly from their
treasuries to influence elections. That kind of flood of corporate cash in elections
makes it almost impossible for anyone to win unless they represent the interests of
the corporations.That would spell disaster for candidates not closely allied with corporate interests

Ilana Dubester –Interim Executive Director, El Centro Latino, Carrboro, PDNC,Ilana Dubester
spoke eloquently on Corporatocracy and Wedge Issue Politics: Keeping Us Divided and Distracted. Ilana described her young life as never exactly fitting in racially whether she was living in her birth place of Brazil or in a Israeli kibbutz but she never experienced racism until she came to America, a place she never really intended to be. She challenged us all to look into our own place of privilege in our lives, places that we have landed through no doing of our own, whether it be our race, wealth, place of birth or family to see how we may be unaware of a racism that may be present through that prism.
She pointed out how we need to be aware that poverty, scarcity of jobs and resources creates an environment where wedge issues are being manipulated to keep the middle and low income classes divided against each other. Joining together to fight for each other would create a force to be reckoned with.

Bob Hall, Executive Director, Democracy North Carolina BobHall PDNC convention
brought the news of how our legislators in Raleigh are also deeply involved in the money game. They are under pressure to raise vast sums for re-election and it is cutting into the quality of the jobs they do for NC. Voter owned elections are catching on in places like Chapel Hill but far more work is needed on this front. He described the Democratic Party as a money-laundering outfit instead of an organization representing grassroots Democratic politics. He called the Democratic Party a "laundramat". As he explained, while there are limits of giving money directly to individual candidates, the Party can receive unlimited amounts of money that are then bundled and sent out to individual candidates. It's a real racket that bypasses campaign finance regulations and also gives the Party real power to affect primary or non-partisan elections by channeling money to their favorites.

Finally, a panel of all of our speakers convened and took questions from the audience working into the Strategy Proposal and Plan of Action... I admit to being a bit distracted through this portion but one comment that stuck with me from David Donelly was “ Use creative controversy to advance your agenda”. I’m guessing he means any attention is good attention so take what you can get.

Late in the day, the Senate candidate forumNC Senate candidates

took to the podium. Cal Cunningham spoke first and talked about Obama’s Inauguration Day dawning for him in the city of Baghdad and how it gave him the sense of a truly new day dawning all over the world by that event.

Kenneth Lewis also spoke of the tremendous optimism that the election of Barack Obama left him with and that carrying that opportunity forward was why he himself was running for office. He also told how he made a decision to leave the corporate law firm where he was a partner to start his own law practice and represent small businesses, non-profits and self-help groups.

Mayor Kevin Foy was the most disciplined of the candidates responding to the set of questions that all the candidates had been asked in advance of the meeting. All of the candidates except Elaine Marshall were asked their opinion on Afghanistan and there seemed not a hair’s width difference with the President’s current opinion on it.

The business meeting was held last. We passed the Strategy Proposal and Plan of Action as a living document that will be fluid as we need it to change and the day wrapped up on a very happy note.


Thank you, T

And a big shout-out to all the organizers, speakers, and potential US Senate candidates who helped make this Convention a success. And a big hand for the Sacrificial Poets: you guys blew us away! With young people like that taking up the torch of democracy, I'm hopeful again.

When we get dispirited and feel that no matter what we do, it does not accomplish anything, let's remember the people who brought us environmental protections, consumer protections, workplace protections, financial and banking regulations, anti-trust legislation, collective bargaining and every other protection that we have against the damages that an unregulated "free market" would inflict on us all if there were no restraints.

People did not accomplish these things by trusting politicians. No, they did it by putting pressure on all of them--left, right and in the center--to do what's right by the American people.

Anyone who has watched and participated in politics for any length of time has seen the creeping corruption, the constant pressure of special interest groups, the gradual erosion of good intentions and integrity even of the ones we thought of as our champions. We have seen this over and over: there are those who will literally do anything to protect and expand a system that privatizes wealth, socializes cost, and concentrates power--including killing people. By the tens of thousands at home and by the millions abroad. In fact, the entire political system is rigged to either corrupt or, failing that, to destroy anyone who challenges corporate power and its stranglehold on our economic and democratic institutions. Only We, the People can change that.

The theme of our Convention was "Confronting Corporatocracy/Saving Democracy." We might be small, but we plan to take them on. Please join us.

Heiderose Kober, President

Resistance is Fertile