Take Back The American Dream News Conference Highlights
Robert L. Borosage of the Campaign for America’s Future and Van Jones of Rebuild the Dream outline plans for the “American Autumn.”
“Save your notes,” Van Jones of Rebuild the Dream told reporters and bloggers at a news conference today during the Take Back the American Dream conference. “This is the first draft of history.”
The history he was referring to was what he and other progressives are calling an “American Autumn” of mobilization, protest and electoral action to rebuild the American dream for working people.
Robert Borosage laid out “the goals that we will hold ourselves accountable to” over the next few months:
1) “We will together organize and push the Jobs not Cuts agenda, demanding jobs now.” That will entail intensive actions across the country similar to the Occupy Wall Street actions that are gaining national attention and are being replicated in other cities. We want legislators to understand that Americans want jobs and action on jobs” and “they do not want the bill for the mess caused by Wall Street’s excesses to be passed on to them.”
2) There will be 100 major state and local actions engaging 1 million leaders across the country over the next year. This will cover a range of state and local issues, such as the Ohio worker’s rights referendum and the effort to counter voter suppression laws passed by Republican legislatures.
3) The movement will partner with organizations “to identify, recruit and support 2,012 American Dream candidates up and down the ballot from School Board to Senate.” The objective is to elect “real champions of the middle class” through an organizing effort independent of any political party.
“This is a big deal. We are about to shake up politics,” Jones said later.
Jones said that millions of people are “shocked and dismayed” at “the unopposed demolition of the working class and middle class” at the hands of the conservative politicians and the powerful corporate interests bankrolling them “You knew at some point there was going to be a pain threshold, and people would stand up and say enough is enough. … You are going to continue to see the sleeping giant awaken.”
It was Jones who characterized the period between September 17 and November 17 the “American Autumn.” The September date marks the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street protests. November 17 is scheduled to be a “day of action” around the country. Justin Ruben of MoveOn.org described the Day of Action as “powerful, visible actions” around the “jobs, not cuts” theme.
That day happens to be the day before the so-called congressional “supercommittee” is scheduled to propose a series of budget cuts to reduce the federal deficit.
“So get November 17 on your calendar. It’s going to be big,” Borosage said.
The actions were also announced to the more than 1,000 attendees at the conference during an afternoon plenary session, “We Have a Plan,” that featured Gloria Totten of Progressive Majority, which will be one of the organizations working on canddiate recruitment; Gabe Gonzales, chief organizer at Center for Community Change; Natalie Foster of Rebuild the Dream and State Sen. Nina Turner of Ohio, who fired up the crowd with her discussion of the battles activists are fighting in her state.
“There will be hundred of events around the country where workers and community will come together to show that we want jobs,” said Arlene Holt Baker of the AFL-CIO, comparing the expected level of activism to the Arab Spring and the Wisconsin uprising against Scott Walker.
Deepak Bhargava, the executive director of the Center for Community Change, said that the news media is several months behind the curve in terms of the mood of the general public. “Washington thinks the story is still the Tea Party. The real story is an explosive energy in the grassroots with real people demanding real solutions to our problems,” he said.
As Jones said, save your notes. History is about to be made.