Downtown Charlotte is where the bank towers hover over abandoned mills that have been converted into condos for financial services executives. This is where the 2012 Democratic National Convention will be held. In the suites overlooking the city, you can still hear serious discussions about whether the Democratic Party has been too tough on the banks and the Wall Street speculators. And about whether the Affordable Care Act went too far in extending the role of government.
The Republican Party confirmed in Tampa that it is all in for crony capitalism and the oligarchy that inevitably results when big business figures out how to buy big government. And there are still many Democrats who would propose a kinder-gentler variation on the austerity agenda of the right.
But a few blocks away, in the real Charlotte, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Michael Dukakis, Congressman John Conyers and House members such as Barbara Lee and Keith Ellison, delegates, labor leaders, activists such as Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin and grassroots campaigners from North Carolina will be talking Tuesday about using a Robin Hood Tax to claw back resources from the financial speculators, a Medicare for All plan to take the profiteering out of heath care, fair trade, labor rights and a real progressive agenda.
The Progressive Central project, organized by Progressive Democrats of America in collaboration with National Nurses United, Communications Workers of America and The Nation is all about pushing the dialogue toward a new politics in America. Like the great mass of citizens, those who gather Tuesday are dissatisfied with the extremism of too many Republicans and the compromises of too many Democrats. They want something richer, something deeper, something better.
There won’t be one answer. There will be real dialogue. But there will also be a real purpose: the development of a new politics rooted in an old message. It is the message of Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he said — as he sought a second term in 1936:
“We (have )had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me–and I welcome their hatred. I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.”
America is still in the making. The RNC outlined a plan to return to the days when corporations saw government as “a mere appendage to their own affairs.” On the day the DNC convenes in Charlotte, progressives will outline plans and programs to put the people in charge. We know which side FDR was on. How about you?
Can’t join us in Charlotte, watch Progressive Central on TV!
John Nichols/The Nation
P.S. We want to pack the house so we decided to keep the ticket price at $15.00. There are only 50 lunch tickets left so if you’re coming, click here to buy your ticket now, or to donate. Your change helps change America.