Activists Provide Alternative To The Main Event

Activists Provide Alternative To The Main Event
Posted by FoM on August 17, 2000 at 08:50:28 PT
By Dahleen Glanton, Tribune Staff Writer
Source: Chicago Tribune
There is no fancy stage, no metal detectors or even air conditioning in the sweaty, aged Patriotic Hall where the alternative shadow convention is under way. But every day, the auditorium is packed with hundreds of people who want to talk about issues they say the Democrats are ignoring.A stark contrast from the well-dressed delegates who fill the floor of the Staples Center each night, the shadow convention is home to the T-shirt and Birkenstock crowd, mostly disaffected activists who say the Democrats and Republicans have forsaken them in favor of big business.
For the most part, they show little interest in what's happening five blocks away, where Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Joseph Lieberman are being anointed as leaders of the Democratic Party. They want to talk about campaign finance reform, poverty and the failed war on drugs--not the economic prosperity that the Democratic convention is touting."This is very different from the major conventions, where we're seeing made-for-television infomercials, where no decisions are being made or debated, and where the real action is in the fundraising receptions paid for by corporate America," said Scott Harshbarger, an organizer of Wednesday's session and president of Common Cause, a non-profit campaign reform advocacy group. "We're talking real issues that people care about, for which there are no easy answers, but what democracy is supposed to be about."The activists fill rows of seats roped off with blue and white paper streamers and dotted with banners that read, "Discouraged but not Defeated" and "2 Poor 4 Access." They heckle speakers who preface their remarks by announcing their support for the Gore-Lieberman ticket. But they come around when the talk turns to Ralph Nader, the preferred candidate for many of them.The first shadow convention, during the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, attracted mostly East Coast residents, organizers say. Similarly, this week's event has drawn people from throughout California, a state that historically has voted Democratic. Both events were organized by syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington."I'm disillusioned with the Democrats and the Republicans," said Gary Krane, a teacher from Van Nuys, Calif., who said he plans to vote for Nader in November. "This may be our last time to really build a strong third party of working people and people who have been shut out. We don't have to take one vote away from Gore for Nader to win. There are millions of people who don't vote and all we have to do is talk to them. If a third of them vote for Nader, he could become the next president."At the shadow convention, speakers leave the stage and are surrounded by supporters who want to ask questions and offer opinions. The atmosphere, say some longtime activists, is more informal and free-spirited, reminiscent of the 1960 Democratic convention here."We heard the John F. Kennedy speech and after that, we just walked up on the stage," said Anne Howell, a Los Angeles city worker who took a day off to attend the gathering. "The delegates let you use their badges so you could get in any time you wanted."Republican and Democratic leaders alike are getting criticism at the shadow convention. Speakers including singer David Crosby, TV satirist Bill Maher of "Politically Incorrect," and even high-profile Democratic politicians such as Wisconsin Sen. Russell Feingold and Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone, have taken shots at both parties, accusing them of placing issues such as welfare reform and poverty on the back burner."Frankly, I expected more out of the Republican and Democratic national conventions, and the American people have a right to expect more out of those conventions," Feingold, a convention delegate and campaign finance reform advocate, told the shadow convention. " . . . It seems that this convention nearby here is all about money, and especially corporate money."The biggest crowd, 2,000 people according to organizers, came Tuesday when Jesse Jackson, Rep. Maxine Waters of California and actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins appeared.Wednesday's program was devoted to campaign finance reform, but the theme has been woven throughout the shadow conventions, said Ellen Miller, president of Public Campaign, a campaign reform advocacy group."Money and politics affects everything--the air we breathe, gun safety, health and safety," she said. "We believe that real reform has to come from the grass roots, from ordinary citizens. It's become a key piece of the shadow convention because it's an issue everybody else would like to go away. The politicians don't want it, so they don't want to talk about it."For Joy Gault, a former Democrat from Lawndale, Calif., the shadow convention helps her feel as though she is participating in the political process."I joined the Democratic Party because of Adlai Stevenson and left and went to the Green Party because of Clinton," said Gault, a Chicago native. "This kind of convention needs support. Everything they're talking about here is what I'm interested in and I want something done about it. You have to start somewhere."Published: August 17, 2000Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)Copyright: 2000 Chicago Tribune CompanyContact: ctc-TribLetter Tribune.comAddress: 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611-4066Website: Articles & Web Sites:The Shadow Conventions Convention 2000 News Board MapInc. Articles On The Shadow Conventions: CannabisNews Articles On The Shadow Conventions: Invitation from Richard Lake:For those of you who attended and those of you who would like to discuss the Drug War Days at the Shadows with them there will be a special evening DrugSense Chat TODAY, Thursday, starting at 6:00 p.m. Pacific time, 9 p.m. Eastern. Join Us!No special software required. Just point your browser to:
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Comment #1 posted by Dé Trá on May 10, 2001 at 20:12:06 PT:
or you consideration
Elites & Power:ALEXANDER HAMILTON --" All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and well-born,the other the masses of people.The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of god; and however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true in fact. The people are turbulentand changing, they seldom judge or determine right."========================================================You are invited to our homepage and links, open disucssion at listbot thank you from Dé Trá______________________________________________________________________To subscribe go to
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