The young liberals who came to the Campus Progress National Conference this week listened to hours of speeches by Democratic Party officials and left-wing activists.
Anne Johnson, Director of Campus Progress, opened the conference on Wednesday with a call to action. “We can say that nothing will ever change, and I promise you, it won’t,” she said.
Campus Progress is a project of the Center for American Progress.
Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, introduced the younger generation to unions, saying they promote a “very simple vision … that every single working person in America who works hard and who plays by the rules, should have a fair shot at a decent life…to earn good pay and good benefits, and ultimately, a secure retirement.”
Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz called for Progressives to “move forward from the failed policies of the past.”
In the panel “Rising from the Tar Sands: Building on the Keystone Victory and Growing the Environmental Movement,” speakers promoted global warming to the top of the issue heap.
Bill McKibben, Chairman and Co-Founder of 350.org, said, “The day we weaken the power of the fossil fuel industry is the day we change things.” Courtney Hight, Deputy Political Director of the Sierra Club, said, “We have to take down the dominance of oil and coal.”
McKibben admitted that windmills kill birds, but he said, “If we do not get the climate change thing solved, we’re going to have an extinction event like the last asteroid hit.”
“There’s one thing that does matter, and that’s jobs,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. She opposed offshore jobs, supporting Obama’s green jobs and job training programs.
Nevertheless, Solis worked hard to incorporate other Progressive issues. She started with the Spanish greeting, “Buenas tardes” and insisted that “we open up opportunities for the LGBT community.”
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said that “the ballot box and the bread box are connected,” and concluded that companies should be limited in their campaign donations. She called on Americans to “honor our founders,” who set up a “democracy.”
“Had they had campaign finance in mind, they would have established a plutocracy,” she said.
Near the end of the program, Campus Progress brought up slam poet Beau Sia. He delivered three poems, attacking guns, patriarchy, and colonialism.
“Women, now is your time. Man’s purpose as partner must follow your lead.” He yelled to women, asking them to “TAKE OVER THE WORLD, PLEASE!” Bringing a voice from the “Third World,” he said, “now we gonna colonize you…we reads fast, and we breeds faster.”