The New Populism Conference ...1 of 1 >
May 22, 2014 - Robert Borosage, founder and president of the Institute for America's Future and co-director of its sister organization, the Campaign for America's Future, as well as founder and chairman of Progressive Majority, a political action committee, speaks at the New Populism Conference at the Washington Court Hotel.  Borosage argues that, "The first stirrings of a populist movement are apparent."  He points to growing "awareness of how the system is rigged," demography (people of color and  single women), and leaders that have emerged, ranging from Senators such as Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown to mayors such as Bill de Blasio of New York City.  On the downside, he said, unions are much weaker and are under assault. 

Asked about the distinction between "liberal," "progressive" and "populist," Borosage said "liberal" has been framed so that it has come to connote a somewhat limited agenda, more focused on social liberties, starting in the Nixon years.  "Progressive" is sometimes seen as an approach to economic, bread and butter issues.  "Populist" has a "greater edge," Borosage said, suggesting "the common people against the elites." 
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) mentioned her book:  "This is my tenth book.  Books are part of how I fight.  And this is a book that I tried to write to draw in more people because our fight can't just be our talking to each other.  We have got to draw more people into it.  And so that's what it's about."

"I understand you spent much of the day talking about populism, which I think of as the power of people to change the country.  This is something I believe in deeply.  In 2009 I was fighting hard for a consumer financial agency that would help level the playing field for families by preventing big banks from pushing people around, from tricking them on credit cards and mortgages and payday loans.  Damon was actually one of those, in fact many people in this room were involved in that fight and you may remember that the biggest financial institutions were ummm, I was going to say unenthusiastic about this consumer agency, ah, how about dead-set opposed and were spending more than a million dollars a day for more than a year in order to block financial reforms generally and the consumer agency in particular; that was the targetted one.  But we were able to fight back.  We were able to fight back because of people like you, people across this country who said I am in this fight too.  And because enough people got involved in this fight we won.  We got a good strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau..."  [video]
Maya Rockeymoore, president of Global Policy Solutions, Kica Matos of the Center for Community Change and Sophia Zaman, president of the U.S. Student Association speak during a session on "The Rising American Electorate: A Populist Force."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and his wife Jane O'Meara Sanders prior to his speech.
"Point number one.  There's an election coming in November, and what the pundits tell us is that 60-percent of the American people are not going to participate in that election; about 40-percent of the people will come out and vote.  That's fairly typical for an off-presidential election.  If 60-percent of the American people do not vote, the assumption is that 70- to 80-percent of low income people and of young people will not participate in this election...  The enormity of the issues facing young people, facing people of color, facing working people, facing low income people and the vast majority of those folks are not going to participate in the election. 

"And then there's another reality for November 2014, and that is that as a result of Citizens United and McCutcheon, the billionaire class now has the capability of spending unlimited sums of money--and I cannot impress upon you enough what unlimited means 'cause many of you just don't know what unlimited means.  The Koch brothers, you know, have been really devastated by the oppressive, socialist regime of Barack Obama, who has strangled the economy, made it really hard for people to make a buck, but in the midst of that, just last year, the Koch brothers saw their wealth go from $68 billion to $80 billion under the difficult restrictions of the Obama administration.  And I want you just to take a deep thought about this.  $12 billion increase in wealth in one year; they're now the second wealthiest family in America, and these people are prepared to spend as much as it takes..."  [video]
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