After a historical and exhilarating primary season, with unprecedented voter turnout and grassroots activism, some great venues at the Democratic Convention in Denver next week will offer the kinds of ideas for change that people want to believe in.
The Nation will be there, moderating daily forums on issues like Iraq, healthcare, economic justice, and immigration reform with progressive leaders such as Representatives John Conyers, Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Lynn Woolsey, Keith Ellison, Robert Wexler, Hilda Solis, Jim McGovern, and others.
Campaign for America’s Future will rally to “Take Back America” with the likes of Senator Sherrod Brown, Representatives Jan Schakowksy, Barbara Lee, and Donna Edwards.
Bloggers and progressive activists will make their presence known, and continue to lay the groundwork for an inside-outside strategy should Senator Barack Obama win in November.
And, of course, when he accepts the party’s presidential nomination before 75,000 people at Invesco Field at Mile High, Senator Obama will be taking an important step toward making this a People’s Convention.
But it’s only a step.
In the stadium crowd, for example, will be Rochester billionaire and registered Republican Tom Golisano who was given a skybox and 50 tickets for his $1 million donation to the Democratic National Convention host committee.
In fact, as the New York Times wrote in an editorial on Wednesday, the Republican and Democratic conventions “will be largely paid for by private, unlimited donations from corporations, deep-pocketed donors and (a few) unions that shop 24/7 for privileged government access…. More than $112 million is expected from private donors–by far the lion’s share of the cost of the two conventions.”
A loophole in campaign finance laws allows for unlimited soft money contributions to the convention host committees. A study by the Campaign Finance Institute and the Center for Responsive Politics reveals at least 173 organizational donors to the conventions–“overwhelmingly corporations”–who have spent over $1.3 billion to lobby the federal government since 2005. The number of donors and the amount of money they have given is probably underestimated because disclosure isn’t required until sixty days after the conventions, fundraising is ongoing, and the Republicans have been slow to report their convention backers.