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CENTERING GORE

About the Author

John Nichols
John Nichols
John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated...

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He wants Republicans controlling the “political apparatus” and the “governmental apparatus” of voting.

The Democratic Senate candidate's prairie populism has made him competitive in this red state.

"They chose to close ranks instead of opening up dialogue," California State Senator

Tom Hayden

said after the Democratic Platform Committee refused to consider progressive planks that would have committed the Democratic Party to protect workers' rights in the era of globalization, guarantee universal healthcare and address income inequality. Pressured by Gore campaign chiefs William Daley and Donna Brazile, who worked the committee's Cleveland meeting with a message that the Gore campaign wanted no minority reports and no dissent on the convention floor, platform writers ignored the progressive proposals. Instead, they penned a document favoring "fast-track" free-trade agreements, "Star Wars" nuclear defense initiatives and the death penalty. "It's Al Gore's platform," declared Al From, president of the conservative Democratic Leadership Council. It's certainly not the platform of

Southern California Americans for Democratic Action

, which pushed the progressive agenda. Chapter president

Lila Garrett

, a delegate who is under fire from party insiders for attempting to upset the Gore bandwagon, dispatched a letter to party leaders saying, "I do not appreciate how far to the right the party has moved. Nor do I believe the passion for centrism is anything but fear. Running on fear is running on empty. It's a loser." Garrett says ADA will keep up the fight during the convention, purchasing full-page "Letter to Al Gore" newspaper ads and organizing a Progressive Caucus of convention delegates. "We want to build a movement within the party to reverse the drift to the right," she says. "We may not win at this convention, but we'll build for the next one."


THE GIFT OF THE MAGI

They bring no frankincense or myrrh, but the

MAGI--Ministers Against Global Injustice

, a network of African-American ministers representing congregations nationwide--will launch a campaign in LA on August 15 to organize communities of color to oppose free-trade policies that undermine African economies while weakening US inner cities. "As globalization generates growing debate, controversy and protest, our community and other communities of color--those bearing the brunt of the adverse effects of globalization--have been conspicuously underrepresented," reads the call from activist clergy, including the

Rev. James Orange

, a onetime aide to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and the

Rev. William Monroe Campbell

of LA's historic Second Baptist Church, where the launch will be held. Featured speakers will include

TransAfrica

's

Randall Robinson

and Representative

Maxine Waters

.


UNWELCOME TO LA

Activist groups that will be out in force during the Democratic convention include the

National Chicano Moratorium Committee

, which will hold a "Deport the two-party system!" rally August 12. On August 13, while Democrats cavort with corporate contributors on Santa Monica's Pier 5,

Global Exchange

and other groups plan a "Beach Party" on the sands below. "We're having a party for the people who can't pay to party with the delegates. We want to make the Democrats aware that people they say they represent--workers, immigrants, environmentalists--are locked out of the convention," says Global Exchange's

Alli Starr

.

California Peace Action

will roll fifty-foot replicas of Trident missiles--with the slogan $35 Billion for Nuclear Weapons; Pennies for Our Schools--into town on the 14th;

Critical Mass

bicycle activists will "reclaim our streets" on the 15th; and anti-death penalty and prison-reform groups will march on the 16th. On the 17th

California Students Against Sweatshops

and others will march to demand that Democrats support policies that hold retailers accountable for sweatshop conditions at suppliers' factories. And, in an ironic bow to organizational demands, the

North American Anarchist Conference

will hold a convention of black-flag wavers that, conveniently, coincides with the Democratic gathering.... An ACLU lawsuit filed on behalf of the

D2K Convention Coalition

and others forced the LAPD to alter plans to keep protesters out of earshot and eyesight of delegates. Said US District Judge Gary Feess in his decision supporting the right of protesters to gather near delegates: "When it's convenience versus the First Amendment, convenience loses every time."... The LA

Shadow Convention

, like the GOP shadow event in Philadelphia, will focus on campaign finance reform, drug policy and poverty issues. Featured speakers include Senators

Paul Wellstone

and

Russ Feingold

, former presidential candidate

Gary Hart

, almost-presidential candidate

Warren Beatty

, activist

Jim Hightower

and former Labor Secretary

Robert Reich

. Says Reich, "The message that I hope will come from the Shadows is that Al Gore has got to focus clearly on the unfinished agenda. With a strong economy in place, his campaign needs to be about taking the next step toward economic justice."


A DAILY ALTERNATIVE

The progressive

LA Weekly

will go daily during convention week, distributing 60,000 copies of special editions featuring reports from inside the hall and on the streets, as well as letters to the delegates from

Barbara Ehrenreich

and others. Poster artist

Robbie Conal

will do the paper's covers. Says executive editor

Harold Meyerson

, "We'll even print an advance copy of Gore's acceptance speech--with what he should be saying."

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