by Bob Roman
On Saturday, May 7, over 70 people gathered at the Midwest office of National Nurses United to consider the future of the movement for socialism inspired by Bernie Sander’s campaign. Much to the surprise of some late arrivals, it started on time and stayed pretty much on time for the rest of the three hours. It was a capacity crowd. Many of the late arrivals ended up seated on the floor.
The meeting was structured around a series of presentations grouped around topics (e.g. neoliberalism, democratic socialism), followed by question and answer sessions. The speakers included Ian Hartman, David Schweickart, Tobita Chow, Emily Rosenberg, Bill Barclay, Jan Rodolfo, Bill Bianchi, Fran Tobin, Peg Strobel, and as a panel: Emma Cone-Roddy, Ian Hartman, Alex McLeese, and Tom Broderick.
The number of speakers meant the Q&A sessions were necessarily limited, and we were fairly insistent that it be questions, not speeches. As lefties love time on the soapbox, everyone felt the lack and most especially those who came the event with an agenda. But time was a limited resource, and this was probably the event’s biggest flaw.
The next biggest was that the participant demographics tended to reflect the left generally, even if a majority of the attendees were new to DSA. There were a scattering of minorities: A few Blacks, Hispanics and south Asians. While majority male, there was better gender balance and more youth than is typical of lefty events.
Some of those with an agenda might assert the event’s biggest flaw was that it was organized by Chicago DSA. It was, however, cosponsored by National Nurses United, The People’s Lobby, Progressive Democrats of America, and the Alliance for Community Services.