Progressive minded people converged on San Diego California for Democracy Fest ’06. This year’s theme was “Cultivating Democracy by Rediscovering Our Roots." Their goal was “to help motivate progressives to take ownership of the political process, and to become more adept at expressing their political views among family, friends and colleagues.” But thrown in with this learning experience was a whole lot of fun. I asked Shayne Munger about his experience at Democracy fest.
Question: What were the best events you attended at Democracy Fest?
Shayne : They were all fantastic; because they were a combination of networking with like minded progressives including putting faces to names on my email list, educational workshops with great panels, talk radio shows, speeches by progressive leaders that I respect immensely and great entertainment. In addition, I was brought back to my college days by spending 3 nights in a college dorm room. They haven’t changed much since I spent my time in one in the early 60’s. But my favorite events were:
1) Spending time at the Progressive Democrats of America PDA booth
2) The Al Franken Air America Radio Show broadcast from the event on Friday morning
3) Robert Greenwald being there and presenting the documentary “The Big Buy”. In addition, he showed a trailer of his next documentary “Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers”. This will be released in September just in time for the November elections and will blow the lid off the callous war profiteering that is going on in Iraq
4) The workshop on voting integrity with a great panel that included Debra Bowen, who got a standing ovation. This workshop pointed out the danger to our Democracy that is being threatened by electronic voting and tabulation. I was glad to see that our Temecula Valley DFA Save-R-Vote project leader Tom Courbat was there videotaping the workshop for the project.
5) Another great workshop was a presentation by David Sirota (My Hero) on the “Hostile Takeover” of our government by corporate America.
6) The speakers at the Saturday Evening Blowout, including Al Franken, Maxine Waters, Howard Dean and Paul Hackett.
7) The fantastic entertainment including A.J. Croce, Lawrence Juber, Berkley Hart and Cindy Lee Berryhill. The highlights for me from these entertainers was the 3 hour gig on Friday night by A.J. Croce and Saturday night when Cindy Lee Berryhill sang “When Did Jesus Become a Republican”
Question: Who did you meet there?
Shayne : I met people like Mimi Kennedy, David Sirota, Paul Hackett, Jerry McNerney, Steve Young Francine Busby and Brad Friedman from the bradblog.com. But my favorites were meeting up with my fellow PDA chapter members Dawn and Mark Brosius and Susan and Doug Dye and seeing PDA state and regional reps Dr. Bill Honigman and Sherry
Question: When you get a bunch of progressive Democrats together, do they have fun?
Shayne : We had one he## of a good time every day and every night! Fun education and networking during the day and partying at night.
Question: What was the most important thing you learned from Democracy Fest?
Shayne : That Progressive values are the backbone of the Democratic Party and the grassroots and the netroots are going to keep delivering that message.
Question: Do you think it is possible for progressives to influence the Democratic Party agenda?
Shayne : Absolutely!! It’s already happening. Look at Paul Hackett, Governor Schweitzer of Montana, John Tester, Jerry McNerney, Jeeni Criscenzo, David Sirota, the Daily Kos, Code Pink, Cindy Sheehan, Mimi Kennedy and on and on. Also just look at how Ned Lamont is challenging Joe Lieberman for the CT Democratic Party Senate nomination. Lieberman “kisses” George Bush, supports the meat grinder occupation in Iraq and has never seen a corporate written trade deal he didn’t like.
Question: What do you feel is the most important issue for Democrats today?
Shayne : I can’t give you just one, here are three:
1) I’m adamant about opposing the corporate control of Congress and the Administration along with much of the Judiciary which is causing a relentless attack on the poor and middle classes of this country. It’s not just Republicans that bow down to the big money but it is also the Republican clone DLC Democrats like Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh, Ben Nelson and Hillary Clinton.
2) I also feel that we Democrats must demand an immediate withdrawal of our “occupation” forces from Iraq and stop using the flower of our youth as cannon fodder.
3) The third major one is that Democrats must stand up against this concept of a “Unitary Presidency” that is accountable to no one!!! Lying to get us into War; Illegal domestic spying; Torture; Indefinite detention of American citizens; Ignoring the Geneva Convention; rendition and 800 Presidential Signing Statements stating that the Administration can ignore the laws that are passed by Congress
Shayne Munger is with the Progressive Democrats of America Chapter in Riverside County, California. Be sure to check out his website.