Why I’m With Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz

Nate Kleinman, a former staffer for Josh Shapiro and activist with Occupy Philly, has decided to challenge Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz in the Democratic primary. I know Nate a little and he seems like a decent, smart guy. But I think he is making a terrible mistake. Normally I would just ignore his challenge, since I don’t think Nate will make much headway against Congresswoman Schwartz. But, as I will point out below, even the small distraction Nate may create is a problem for progressives and Democrats not just here but across the country. And as I will also point out, this is a revealing moment in our politics and a good opportunity for us to think through what progressive Democrats both in and outside of Congress should be doing and saying now. When primary challenges are a good idea I don’t oppose progressives running in primaries against Democrats who consistently … Continue reading

Why Occupy Philadelphia Needs to Continue

In the last few months, the Occupy Movement has had a dramatic impact on politics in America. At a time when even Democratic politicians and progressive newspapers have shied away from raising critical issues of inequality in income, wealth, and power, the Occupy Wall Street has moved them to the forefront of our public debates. Last week I joined a group from Occupy Philadelphia in a meeting at Senator Casey office in Washington. The Senator’s staff talked about the importance of the movement to their efforts on behalf of working people. Monday evening in Mt. Airy, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz also praised the movement and pointed out that it has given new national prominence to the needs of cities. Now, after the city and its newspapers have been so supportive of Occupy Philadelphia, it is sad to see both Mayor Nutter and the Daily News turn against it. The arguments they … Continue reading

Occupy Philly Goes to Washington (and Why It Is So Important to Keep Going).

Last Thursday I led a group of people to Washington, DC to attend a National Nurses United rally in support of a financial transactions tax (FTT) and to meet with two of Senator Bob Casey’s legislative aides. Some of the people with us are heavily involved in Occupy Philadelphia. Others were HCAN, MoveOn or Neighborhood Networks supporters. They all are either sympathetic to or take part in Occupy Philly events. There were 1500-2000 spirited people at the rally. It was nice to meet some folks at the Occupy DC camp. And our meeting with Senator Casey’s staff members impressively showed me why the Occupy Movement is so incredibly importance to this country right now. Meeting with Senator Casey’s Staff Senator Casey is sympathetic to our goals. His staff said that he would look at the FTT and that it fits with his support of taxing the wealthy. His aide, Jennifer … Continue reading

Why You Should Go to DC in Support of a Financial Transactions Tax

Heal America! Make Wall Street Pay! Event The National Nurses Union (NNU) is holding a rally and lobby day this Thursday, December 3, in Washington, DC in support of a financial transactions tax. The event is co-sponsored by the AFL-CIO and other progressive organizations. Here in Pennsylvania, Health Care For America Now (HCAN) is working with the local NNU affiliate PASNAP, to bring people to the rally by bus. The buses are FREE and will leave at 7:00 am from two locations, Temple University Hospital and 16th and JFK Boulevard. After a 11:30 rally, there will be a chance to do some lobbying on Capitol Hill and there may be a meeting with the staff of some of our members of Congress (or, if we can arrange it, the members themselves). The bus will leave Washington to return to Philly at 5:00 pm. Box meals will be provided in both … Continue reading

What Movement Building is About or Why We Don’t We Have a Laundry List of Demands

I’ve gotten pretty sick of hearing journalists and others say that the Occupy Wall Street movement has no “clear ideas or demands.” I keep wondering where political critics were when the Tea Party first arose as I don’t recall anyone calling the Tea Party out along these lines, other than to kill “Obamacare” and cut taxes. But since the mainstream media—that liberal media you read so much about—seems to have different expectations for left and right, I want to take a moment and explain why the OWS movement hasn’t been characterized by ten point plans or laundry lists of demands. Continue reading

Picking the Right Target for Occupy Philly

The Occupy Philly meeting last night was one of the best examples of direct democracy in action I’ve ever seen. We had some serious talk about where and when to being Occupy Philly. People listened to each other and changed their minds as the discussion proceeded. We made a decision. And we did it in less time than expected. Decisions to come There is a lot more to be decided and understood. We are just at the beginning of figuring out in detail what this movement is going to be and how it will impact the future of our country. But most of those decisions can come later. We all know what this movement is broadly about—the increasingly unequal distribution of power, wealth, and income in the United States. It’s a movement that aims to reverse the decline in American Democracy which we have all witnessed in the last 30 … Continue reading