I'm sorry. I love Sen. Warren - what she says, what she does to back up what she says. But the Daily Kos community should realize that there is no one "savior." The future of the United States does not rest on whether she runs for president. If she changes her mind, I will support her wholeheartedly. I will volunteer, I will donate, I will raise money.
But we have to look far more broadly. For instance ... The New Populism Conference, organized by the Campaign for America's Future, or CAF, and held in DC on May 22.
Sen. Warren was the lunchtime keynote speaker. Jim P wrote about it the day after, but it really didn't get picked up. Since I attended the conference, Jim asked me to write about it.
If you can deal with my own interpretation of events, come below the fold. I hope you do - as much as I love Sen. Warren, in the end she's only one small piece of the solution. We, the ordinary citizens of the United States, are the whole answer.
This is not going to be chronological. I am not going to simply summarize what each speaker said, even though it was one hell of a lineup - in addition to Sen. Warren, we heard from Rep. Keith Ellison, senators Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders (both of whom I love just as much as Elizabeth), several outstanding young people on education, immigration reform, taxes, and related issues, Jared Bernstein, Larry Cohen (president of Communications Workers of America), and ... the Rev. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP and one of the leaders of the Moral Mondays movement!
If you want to hear any of their speeches, you can find them here. You can find the agenda on the Campaign for America's Future website (and, amazingly, we did a reasonably good job of sticking to the schedule, so you can use the times as a rough guide to the YouTube video to find a particular speaker).
The fundamental takeaways that I synthesized out of this:
- We have to remember we're all in this together. It may feel good, or at least alleviate one's anger, to rage against obstructionist Republicans, to rant about idiot teabaggers whose ignorance is only heightened by their bigotry. But at the end of the day, we're still going to be living with them, working with them, buying and selling with them, arguing with them. So don't make it worse, don't entrench them even further, by reinforcing their "us vs. them" mentality.
- We actually have a lot of common ground with many of those ordinary folks we disagree with. Celinda Lake, the founder of Lake Research Partners, a Democratic polling firm, spoke about this. "We don't have to convince anybody. They're there ... The key is to make the will of the people be heard. Our job is to hurry history - this should not take a long time," she said. (Her presentation is at about the 1-hour mark on the video.) She cited lots of polling results, all of which you'll appreciate.
- If you want proof, CAF was distributing a memo, "The American Majority Is A Populist Majority", stuffed full of information. Read it; you'll both be comforted to know far more people agree on what our problems are and inspired to make more common-ground arguments.
- We need to remember that everyone's problems are important. One of the things that frustrates me about many of the liberal groups I follow, read about, or belong to, is how they each insist that their cause is the most important and has to be addressed first. Well, guess what? If you're unemployed, jobs are the most important. If you are the child of undocumented workers, immigration reform is the most important. If you're hungry, food programs are the most important. (You get the idea.)
- Of all the speakers at the conference, and they were all wonderful, if you watch just one, watch Rev. Barber (about 7:49:45 on the link). I'm not even going to attempt to summarize his sermon, which is what it felt like. He talks about the centrality of hope, of imagination. He gives a stirring history lesson to make the case that we are in the middle of the Third Reconstruction (which also made me think of Ta-Nehisi Coates' long read on "The Case for Reparations." And he said, "You have to stop being a thermometer and start being a thermostat and change the temperature."
What I got from this conference is building the coalition and worrying less about which issues get addressed first. They are all deserving of respect and attention. I would probably argue for addressing economic issues first (jobs and income inequality), simply because I believe the less anxiety ordinary folks have about them, the more thought and energy they can put into issues that don't affect them directly, whether it's climate change (yes, I know that it does affect everyone directly, but folks worried about losing their houses have more immediate troubles in mind), immigration reform, education, or any of the myriad other subjects that need serious, mammoth attention.
I also got a big boost of hope, just as Rev. Barber intended. I could go on for a long while about everything - and there are a few things that I can expand upon in other diaries if anyone is interested, such as CAF's white paper, "The New Populism: A Movement and Agenda to Transform America's Economy and Politics." This is the only thing I couldn't find a link for.