About 20 CPR members and friends gathered at 12 Federal Street on April 23 to watch Our Revolution’s (OR) live stream. OR is the national group formed by staffers from the Bernie Sanders for President campaign, and which is affiliating state and local groups like ours. The hope has been that this would become a powerful, grassroots organization that, like CPR, would work both inside and outside the electoral arena. Many of us in CPR have until now been disappointed by the slow pace and exclusive focus on candidate endorsement by OR so far.
So I was pleasantly surprised by the exciting and dynamic presentations by a diverse group of OR Board members during the live stream. Some highlights:
Larry Cohen, a national union leader and chair of the OR Board, talked about the #1 job of OR being to support local groups. He identified 3 main tasks: working on local, state and national issues; working for progressive candidates and ballot measures; party building – both inside and outside the Democratic Party – not just in all 50 states but in all 3,143 counties in the country.
Nina Turner, former Ohio State Senator, said OR was changing its endorsement process so local chapters would have much more say as to who to endorse. I loved her line: “The darkness you’re feeling is not from being in a tomb, it’s from being in a womb.”
Mike Connolly, a newly-elected State Representative from right here in Massachusetts (Cambridge-Somerville), explained how he was first drawn into politics by the Occupy movement. He mentioned that over 1,000 local groups around the country have applied to be OR member groups. Several hundred have so far been certified. [CPR members at our last General Assembly asked that we try to secure some changes in the contract before formally affiliating, but we are in the pipeline.]
Lucy Flores, first Hispanic Nevada Assembly, mentioned that OR has already recruited 1,200 candidates in 17 states, and many more activists, such as 2,000 precinct leaders in North Carolina.
Ben Jealous, former head of the NAACP, stressed the many ways in which, “if they come for any of us, they come for all of us”.
The sorts of issues OR activists are promoting include safe communities, paid family leave, $15/hour minimum wage, single payer health care, free higher education, progressive tax reform, criminal justice reform. Sounds like Franklin County CPR to me!
The speakers’ enthusiasm was contagious, but of course, the proof will be in the pudding – in what OR actually does in the months and years ahead. But I for one was impressed and look forward to being part of a national movement that supports and amplifies our progressive voices here in Franklin County.
Ferd Wulkan is a long-time labor activist whose passion has been linking the labor movement with other progressive movements for social justice. Recently retired from the faculty/librarian union at UMass Amherst, he is actively involved with the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts and the campaign to divest the state pension fund from fossil fuels. He has lived in Montague for 20 years and makes sure to find time for travel, the outdoors and tiddlywinks. Ferd’s term expires in November 2018.