Stage being set up for PDA’s Progressive Central’ forum near the Democratic Convention in North Carolina
2012 Convention: Pulling Democrats’ Platform to the Left
By Martin Wisckol
Beaver County Blue via Orange County Register
Sept 5, 2012 – Proudly liberal activist Tim Carpenter, who toiled in Orange County for more than 20 years before resettling in Massachusetts and co-founding Progressive Democrats of America, has made a career of standing staunchly to the left of mainstream Democrats, relentlessly beckoning and cajoling others to come a little closer.
His 8-year-old PDA group was at it again Tuesday, with a “People’s Convention” at a Charlotte church and soup kitchen that featured the Rev. Jesse Jackson, former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, a couple Congress members, several Congressional hopefuls – including Paul Ryan‘s Democratic opponent – and a host of progressive leaders.
“The country would have been a lot better if Jesse Jackson was elected and, if not, Michael Dukakis,” said Carpenter, recalling the 1988 presidential field from which George H.W. Bush emerged victorious.“We wouldn’t have had Bush I and maybe not Bush II. But (Jackson and Dukakis) are still engaged. And they’re coming here instead of parading around the convention.”
As usual, Carpenter is pushing an agenda beyond which most Democratic lawmakers are ready to support. But before outlining the list, Carpenter took a moment to celebrate a Tuesday victory: At the Democratic convention, delegates approved a platform backing marriage rights for gays – a clear distinction from Republicans.
“This election is not simply a choice between two candidates or two political parties,” the platform summarizes, “but between two fundamentally different paths for our country and families.”
The specific support for gay marriage comes after President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law and, until recently, Barack Obama opposed gay marriage.
“That’s a victory that’s been a struggle for a long time,” Carpenter said.
Among the 240 people who paid registration dues for the Tuesday event were 92 convention delegates, rallying around eight central issues including:
A single-payer, “Medicare for all” health-care system that, unlike the Affordable Care Act, would leave no American without health insurance. A series of initiatives to diminish corporate influence over the political system. “Main Street, not Wall Street,” Carpenter said. A carbon tax and other measures to address global warming. Immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan. A diplomatic solution to the brewing conflict with Iran. “We’ve got to stop the saber rattling,” Carpenter said.
While it’s trying to pull Obama more toward these positions, PDA supports the incumbent’s reelection as far preferable to a Mitt Romney presidency.
And Carpenter remains as positive and optimistic as ever on a number of fronts. Take, for instance, Rob Zerban, the PDA member challenging vice presidential candidate Ryan in his other race, reelection to Congress.
“Now we get to beat Paul Ryan twice,” he quipped.