News

Speakers at Democracy Convention

We are excited to provide the following list of confirmed speakers, session leaders, and artists at the 2011 Democracy Convention. This listing will be expanded and otherwise updated in advance of the convention:

VLAHOS: Return Our Weekend Warriors

May 3, 2010
Kelley B. Vlahos

If George W. Bush – notorious for skipping his Texas Air National Guard drills during the Vietnam War – were in the Guard today, he’d be up in the air without a propeller.

That’s because today’s National Guard has become virtually indistinguishable from the nation’s active-duty forces in the war zone. The majority of these so-called part-time soldiers have served combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, with many– if not most – deployed more than once.

As of April 24, 622 members of the Guard have been killed [.pdf] in the two-front war since 2001. Forget the whole bit about “weekend warriors” – reservists have become indispensable to the ongoing overseas operations since Bush himself launched the country into war nine years ago.

More Info: 

Original article here...

BREAKING: Legislative committee recommends cuts to WI Arts Board

May 6, 2011
Patti Wenzel
news photo

The Joint Finance Committee voted today to end the independent agency status of the Wisconsin Arts Board, moving the oversight of arts to the Tourism Board. The proposal will now go before the State Assembly and Senate for final approval as part of Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011-13 biennial budget. The vote was along party lines with 14 Republicans voting in favor and four Democrats voting against.

The committee did restore some of the cuts Walker proposed, returning over $350,000 to the agency over the next two years. The Board was facing a drop from $3 million to $750,000; now it will have just over $1 million in the next budget period.

The JFC also reversed Walker by allowing the Arts Board the autonomy to select its own executive director in the future.

RELEASE: As faith in system crumbles, organizers to announce launch of new U.S. Democracy Movement

August 1, 2011
Liberty Tree

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ~ August 1, 2011

As faith in U.S. political system hits historic lows, organizers announce that
LAUNCH OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT WILL BE AUGUST 24-28 IN MADISON, WISCONSIN

(MADISON, WI) ~ The eyes of the nation will return to Madison, Wisconsin, August 24-28, as nearly 1,000 community, labor, and student organizers gather at the first Democracy Convention to launch a movement to bring democracy to the United States.

Cheri Honkala to keynote Democracy Convention

August 1, 2011
Liberty Tree
Cheri Honkala photo

With the Democracy Convention beginning in 23 days, we are please to announce our second keynote speaker: Cheri Honkala. She joins Tom Hayden and Michelle Shocked in headlining five days of celebration, strategy, and community-building. 

FOR YOUR EARS ONLY: "Democracy, U.S.A."

August 7, 2011
David Alpern & Kathryn Herzog

Ben Manski discusses the 2011 Democracy Convention with "For Your Ears Only." To download this radio interview, see: http://gatewave.org/sites/gatewave.org/files/fyeo/fyeo_110807_complete.mp3 . . . Or listen online at http://gatewave.org/fyeo/lineup/110807

Segment comes on at 19:30 . . .

IV. DEMOCRACY, U.S.A.

Ben Manski, Executive Director, Liberty Tree Foundation, Democracy Convention chairman

Show Date: 

Thom Hartmann & Ben Manski: Fighting Back Against Citizens United

August 10, 2011

Radio talk show host Thom Hartmann meets Ben Manski, Chair-Democracy Convention / Executive Director of Liberty Tree / Spokesperson for Move to Amend. They show us how to fight back against plutocrats who want to buy elected officials.
 

John Nichols discusses the significance of the August 9th recalls

August 15, 2011
John Nichols

Five months to the day after the Republican majority in the Wisconsin state Senate voted to approve Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to strip most collective bargaining rights from public employees, two of the governor’s most prominent allies in the chamber have been removed from office.

Western Wisconsin state Sen. Dan Kapanke and eastern Wisconsin Sen. Randy Hopper were both defeated in recall elections that provided a powerful indication of the state’s anger with Walker’s assault on worker rights.

WDC: Voters act to rein in extremism

August 17, 2011
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Wisconsin voters have shown time and time again that they are not extremists. Voters in largely Republican areas of the state sent a message in recent days that the actions of those in charge of state government have been too extreme by voting for greater moderation.

In unprecedented state senate recall elections, the number of legislators removed from office in this manner over the 163-year history of Wisconsin was doubled in a single summer. A third of Republican senators targeted for recall were ousted, while two others narrowly survived election-day scares. All three of the targeted Democratic senators were returned to office by comfortable margins.

NICHOLS: Mitt Romney, Dark Prince of Oligarchy, Battles the Demons of Democracy

August 20, 2011
John Nichols

 

The gaffe-prone candidacies of Michele “Elvis” Bachmann and Rick “C’mon, Men, Let’s String Us Up Some Bernanke” Perry, and the slapstick non-candidacy of Sarah “Two If by Sea” Palin, are merely the cheap theater of an ill-defined Republican presidential race. The real drama of the 2012 race continues to come from the CEO party’s CEO candidate: Willard Mitt Romney.

Welcome to the 2011 Democracy Convention

August 23, 2011
Ben Manski

 

ISTHMUS: Democracy Convention kicks off, boosted by Wisconsin Capitol protests

August 23, 2011
Judith Davidoff

The timing could not be better, but organizers say plans for this week's Democracy Convention in Madison were set before Gov. Scott Walker's introduction of his collective bargaining bill and the ensuing protests that led some to compare the uprising in Wisconsin to democratic rebellions in Egypt and Tunisia.

MJS: Democracy Convention under way in Madison

August 24, 2011
Bill Glauber

The first Democracy Convention got under way Wednesday, and the five-day gathering is expected to draw up to 1,000 political and social activists from across the country.

The convention brought together at least two generations of left-wing activists ready to hash out such issues as voting rights, access to education and U.S. constitutional reform.

Tom Hayden, a key figure in anti-war demonstrations during the Vietnam era, was among the scheduled keynote speakers. The convention was organized by Ben Manski, a 37-year-old Madison attorney and former co-chairman of the national Green Party.

WSJ: Madison convention focuses on strengthening democracy

August 24, 2011
Deborah Ziff

There may be no other convention where you can learn about the history of civil disobedience, go to a class called Organizing 101, and discuss how to make a general strike succeed.

The first ever Democracy Convention will be held in Madison Wednesday through Sunday.

"It's the first national gathering in my lifetime that has focused on the underlying question of who rules," said Ben Manski, former co-chair of the Green Party of the U.S. and an event organizer. "[It] is not just interested in criticizing the lack of democracy in the United States but is devoted toward strengthening the movement to achieve the American promise of democracy."

WRN AUDIO: Event Focuses on Democracy

August 25, 2011
Brian Moon

AUDIO: Soglin full speech (14:30)

Labor supporters go from the streets and into breakout sessions at the Democracy Convention in Madison. Mayor Paul Soglin kicked off the event reflecting on this year’s massive protests and continued fight against changes by Governor Walker and the Republican majority. He says until then the public was not paying enough attention.

“We cannot rest and assume that others are going to take care of our society,” says Soglin.

TCT: Cheri Honkala rallies audience at Democracy Convention

August 26, 2011
Pat Schneider

 

Say what you want about Take Back the Land-Madison, whose members have occupied a handful of foreclosed properties to protest public policies that put families out on the street. Their tactics are audacious, if nothing else. It's a brand of activism with the power to rally the allies and antagonize opponents.

Democracy Convention draws 1,000 to Madison, plans next steps

September 1, 2011
Judith Davidoff
Clad in a tiara, long dress and sash reading "Do You Miss Democracy?" Mary Zepernick approached a table at the Memorial Union Terrace Saturday night with a question clearly on her mind. "Do you miss democracy?" she asked the group. "I do."
 
It was a bit of street theater, Zepernick, 71, explained the next day in a phone interview. "It's a way to catch the attention of people, to just shake up their minds a little."

KC ACTIVE: On hand at the Democracy Convention in Madison

September 9, 2011
Mary Lindsay

For some, there wasn’t a better venue for America’s first Democracy Convention than the in-your-face capitol of local democracy, Madison, Wisconsin — a state with a long history of progressive sensibilities. Earlier this years thousands of protesters converged upon the capitol in response to Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican legislative majority’s decision to end collective bargaining for public employees — a fight that is not over and one leading to a test of Walker’s reelection capability.

BOYER: Stewart Acuff is fighting for labor and our democracy

September 14, 2011
Joanne Boyer

"The only thing we can do is to choose whether we fight for rights of people, freedom and democracy or whether we sit it out on the sidelines."  ~ Stewart Acuff, Utility Workers Union of America

The discussion of workers' rights, the assault on organized labor, and the conversation of what it all means has never been a hotter topic as we approach Labor Day 2011.  

PRWATCH: Local Ordinances and Land Grabs: Democracy Convention Panels Discuss Food Sovereignty

September 14, 2011
Rebekah Wilce

Attendees of the Democracy Convention in Madison in late August were treated to panels on a host of different issues, from democratic media to racial inequality. The Center for Media and Democracy was one of the sponsors of the convention, and our own Lisa Graves and Brendan Fischeraddressed democracy activists.

ALPEROVITZ: America's Massive Wealth Disparity

September 15, 2011
Karen Rybold-Chin

In the United States, the richest 400 people own more collective wealth than the bottom 150 million. As historian and writer Gar Alperovitz puts it, this is quite literally medieval. America's distribution of wealth is controlled by corporations and the extremely wealthy—if there is to be real social change, this gaping inequality needs to be addressed and radically altered. The people need to take the pain of the laborers affected by politicians such as Governor Scott Walker and unite around this as something to replace with progressive reforms. 

ALPEROVITZ: The Environmental Movement's Civil Disobedience

September 15, 2011
Karen Rybold-Chin

Civil disobedience is a transformation of consciousness, a sudden revelation that something new must be done. It is the knowledge that there are two options: disrupt and change the system or remain silent in the face of injustice. Right now, civil disobedience is emerging from the anti-war and environmental movements in significant ways, most notably around opposition to the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

HONKALA: No American Should Be Poor

September 15, 2011
Karen Rybold-Chin

It's easy to subscribe to the belief that America doesn't have enough resources for everyone to enjoy a high standard of living. But Cheri Honkala, one of the leading figures in the movement against poverty, said at the Liberty Tree Foundation's Democracy Convention in Madison, Wisconsin that this is a false message.

VIDEO: The Uptake & WORT provide video from the Democracy Convention

September 16, 2011
Cristalyne Bell, Patrick Waring, Norm Stockwell, Sarah Manski & more

For video coverage of the 2011 Democracy Convention, recorded by volunteers and convention staff, and posted at The Uptake, click here: 

http://www.theuptake.org/2011/08/24/democracy-convention-live-from-madison-wi/

More Info: 

These videos range in quality, but most are easy to follow. Additional videos are posted, and will continue to be added as they become available, at http://democracyconvention.org/press

VIDEO & AUDIO: Extensive coverage of Democracy Convention by WisconsinEye

September 16, 2011

WisconsinEye is the C-Span of Wisconsin's civil society. The folks at WisconsinEye video recorded 18 different sessions at the 2011 Democracy Convention. They may be watched or listened to for free on their website, or purchased for download, here:

http://www.wiseye.org/Programming/VideoArchive/SearchResults.aspx?XMLSearchGUID=1824f2ef-5c71-433e-d5fb-a69500dfc4cc

 

PRESS TV: US in a Revolutionary Period

October 6, 2011
Interview with Edward Spannaus

 

 

Press TV:  Edward Spannaus, why don't you tell us your impression of these movements? I mean, they are obviously gaining momentum. Tell us why? And of course we see Occupy Wall Street as being one of them that has inspired other movements.

 Spannaus: Well, I would actually go back to the spring when you had the mass protests in Madison, Wisconsin, in Indiana, in Ohio and at that time also you had demonstrations in hundreds of cities in support of the trade unionists and when you had governors of those states trying to break the unions.

Arundhati Roy addresses People's University in Washington Square, NYC

November 18, 2011
Arundhati Roy

This is the text of a speech given by Arundhati Roy at the People's University in Washington Square, NYC on November 16th, 2011 (video link below).

Tuesday morning, the police cleared Zuccotti Park, but today the people are back. The police should know that this protest is not a battle for territory. We're not fighting for the right to occupy a park here or there. We are fighting for justice. Justice, not just for the people of the United States, but for everybody.

WSJ: Egyptians stood in solidarity with Wisconsin, now we must return the favor

December 5, 2011
Michael Lethem

CAIRO - The Egyptian Military and Central Security Forces have committed crimes against humanity in the struggle for control of Tahrir Square.

I have been in Tahrir all day and well into the night on recent Fridays. I witnessed hundreds of thousands of Egyptians peacefully rallying to express their political opinions and opposition to the continuation of military dictatorship in Egypt.

Their leaders responded to their peaceful appeals with live ammunition and CR gas, which is classified as a "combat class chemical weapon" by the U.S. military. Its use is forbidden in the United States.