Tuesday, July 27, 2010

'Who Will Thread the Needle?' Getting the Charter Movement Organized at the Grassroots

Mark Solomon promoting the Charter at Workshop

The Democracy Charter at the

United States Social Forum in Detroit

By Mark Solomon
The Democracy Charter, formulated by civil rights legend Jack O’Dell, was introduced to an activist audience at the United States Social Forum in Detroit on June 25, 2010. The content and potential of the Charter as an organizing force for a resurgent progressive majority was quickly registered by a distinguished panel and was explored with vigor by an engaged audience.
The session began with reading of a statement from Jack O’Dell who underscored the systemic crisis of a faltering economy, environmental degradation, the staggering burden of endless wars and the withering of democracy. He insisted that an expansive, robust democracy (“the people shall govern”) was the answer to that many-sided crisis. Reflecting his profound sense of history, he noted: “At the heart of the Democracy Charter is the ‘dual authority’ represented by the social change mass movements of the people. … That dual authority has been the essential element in defending and enlarging democracy throughout the nation’s history.”

Our Panel: Carl Davidson (standing), Tim Johnson, Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Frances Fox Piven

The panel and the audience faced a large blow-up of the 13 points that constitute the present draft of the Charter – expanded and deepened social policies to assure full employment, an end to bigotry and racial violence, total education for all, universal health care; a foreign policy of peace and cooperation, restoration and preservation of the environment, expanded public ownership of resources strategic to the nation’s health and economy, the airwaves maintained as public property – as well as other points that address needs crucial to salvaging and extending democracy.