Be the Change Congress Needs

by Tom Broderick
Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) will be conducting an Advocacy Training in Oak Park. This training will be free of charge. It will be conducted by Maiya Zwerling, National Field Organizer for FCNL.

Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM start and 9:30 PM end
Location: Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church, 405 S. Euclid Avenue, Oak Park, IL 60302
RSVP: David Kelm 708.975.9300
For more information CLICK HERE or call Tom at 708.386.6007.

FCNL is a national Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest group that works to empower people like you and me to influence our national legislators (Representatives and Senators).

Person to person meetings with our elected officials and their staff are the most effective way to influence policy decisions. We all need to become more effective in influencing the policy decisions of our elected officials.

Time to hone our effective selves and move our elected officials to follow our lead.

The Arresting Harry Partch

by Tom Broderick

While hanging out at the home of Peg Strobel and Bill Barclay some months back, Peg said something about passing by a music room during her college days and hearing strange sounds. She stopped in and found out that someone named Harry Partch was working on his musical compositions on weird looking musical instruments.

“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” I exclaimed. “Never among my political comrades would I have expected to hear anyone mention the name Harry Partch.” Peg jumped up and produced an L.P. of Partch’s work. Partch was born in 1901 and died in 1974. During the 1930 Depression era, Partch was riding the rails along the west coast and picking fruit: An itinerant. A hobo. He was also occasionally employed by the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.).

In 1943 he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship and that launched his career in musical composition and reluctantly on the creation of musical instruments. His early works were essentially spoken or intoned voices combined with the sounds generated by his musical instruments, which were generally percussive in nature. Partch gave his instruments names like Omicron Belly Drum, Harmonic Cannon III, New Kithara I and Cloud-Chamber Bowls. The Whitney Museum of Modern Art in New York City exhibited some of them in 1968.

I first ran across Partch’s music on a CD released by the Kronos Quartet called HOWL, U.S.A. This CD has four compositions, all with a political bent. The first is Sing Sing: J. Edgar Hoover, composed by Michael Daugherty with sampling of words by J. Edgar Hoover, including the line “We are as close to you as your telephone” menacingly repeated throughout the composition and accompanied by a ringing telephone. Next is Partch’s Barstow: Eight Hitchhikers’ Inscriptions from a Highway Railing at Barstow, California. This composition was arranged and voiced by Ben Johnston, who had worked with Partch. The inscriptions of eight hitchhikers are spoken and sung to the music provided by the Kronos String Quartet.

Cold War Suite from How It Happens (The Voice of I.F. Stone) was composed by Scott Johnson. This has the voice and sampled voice of I.F. Stone taken from radio commentary and a lecture given by him that was broadcast by National Public Radio. The fourth composer on the disk is Lee Hyla with a reading of the text of Howl, performed by Allen Ginsberg. The CD, which was recorded in 1995 is still available and well worth obtaining for its creative use of music and historical texts. The cover photo is by Robert Mapplethorpe. It’s called American Flag and is a frayed American flag with the sun setting (rising?) behind it.

So back to Harry Partch. After listening to the CD released by the Kronos Quartet, I wanted to find out more about Harry Partch. A collection of three compact disks were released by Composers Recordings, Inc. (CRI). Volume 2 has the Barstow track on it, but the instruments were the ones fashioned by Partch: Surrogate Kithara, Chromelodon I, Diamond Marimba and Boo. In addition there are three other compositions that involve singing or intoned speaking voices: U.S. Highball – A Musical Account of a Transcontinental Hobo Trip; San Francisco – A Setting of the Cries of Two Newsboys on a Foggy Night in the Twenties and The Letter. These last three are grouped together under the title The Wayward.

Although created and manipulated by Partch, what these works of art bring to my mind is Studs Terkel and his interviews. The voices from Partch’s compositions have the feel of real folk. There’s a legitimacy to the stories. U.S. Highball includes advice and reminisces about riding the rails. San Francisco has sounds of two newsboys hawking their papers. Newsboys? Hawking their papers? No longer in this country. The Letter is subtitled “A Depression Message from a Hobo Friend.” It features Partch speaking/intoning the text from a letter he received from Pablo about his recent experiences and the need to get back on the road posthaste. These works were all written in the early 1940s. U.S. Highball and San Francisco were recorded in 1958. The Letter was recorded in 1972 and Barstow was recorded in 1982.

Another wanderer appears in Partch’s Ulysses At The Edge, composed in 1955. It’s found on Volume I of the CRI disks and was recorded in 1958. This fairly short work includes voice, baritone saxophone, alto saxophone and three of Partch’s instruments: Bamboo Marimba, Cloud-Chamber Bowls and Diamond Marimba. It was revised later, substituting a trumpet for the alto sax. The very few spoken words that come near the end of the piece are “So you say that your name is Ulysses. That you’re wandering around the world. Tell me sir, have you ever been arrested before?”

CDSA’s Anti-TPP Campaign

by Tom Broderick

Chicago DSA printed post cards urging our elected federal representatives to vote against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). We asked folk to sign them on the spot so that we could hold them for a later delivery to these representatives. There were cases where the signer was from out of state. Those we just stamped and mailed.

Over the summer, we gathered these signatures at various farmers’ markets and events like The People’s Summit at McCormick Place. A vast majority of the cards were signed by folk from the Chicago area. As the gathering process tapered off, several comrades made appointments to drop the cards at the various legislative offices in the area. With each delivery of cards, we included a sheet of quotes stating opposition to the TPP from groups as varied as the CATO Institute and Physicians Without Borders. I’d like to thank those who agreed to deliver the cards:

• Peg Strobel and Bill Barclay delivered cards to the office of Senator Richard J. Durbin, where they were accepted without comment.

• Hilda Schlatter and Paul Sakol delivered the cards to the office of Senator Mark Kirk, where they were accepted with scant response.

• Jacqueline P. Kirley and Charles Nissim-Sabat agreed to deliver the cards to the office of Rep. Bobby Rush (1st CD), where they were accepted, again without comment.

• I was unable to find any DSA member in Rep. Robin Kelly’s district (2nd CD) to make the delivery, so we bundled them together with the list of oppositional quotes and mailed them to her office.

• Cards for Rep. William Lipinski (3rd CD) were mailed to his office as well. Rep. Lipinski is a leader in the fight against the TPP.

• Sheilah Garland and Alec Hudson agreed to deliver cards to the office of Rep. Luis Gutierrez (4th CD). This office also refused to have a conversation, saying they don’t meet with constituents on issues like the TPP.

• Lisa Wallis and Bill Bianchi agreed to deliver the cards to the office of Rep. Mike Quigley (5th CD). Rep. Quigley is the only Democrat from Illinois in the U.S. House who has consistently stated support for the TPP. Upon receipt of the cards, Mary Ann Levar stated that the Congressman was “listening carefully to what his constituents were saying on this issue.”

• Gary Harper and Alex Franklin met with a staff member of Rep. Peter Roskam (6th CD) at his office. The cards and oppositional quote sheet were accepted without comment.

• I met with Ira Cohen from Rep. Danny K. Davis’ (7th CD) office. Cohen said the Congressman always appreciates it when constituents do the kind of community outreach that our post card project entailed. He said that Rep. Davis is under pressure to vote in favor of the TPP, but Cohen had no indication that he was going to succumb.

• The post cards for Rep. Tammy Duckworth (8th CD) were mailed to her office along with the oppositional quote sheet.

• Susan E. Hirsch and Ian Hartman met with an aide to Rep. Jan Schakowsky (9th CD), who is another leader from Illinois in the fight against the TPP. The aide was pleased to hear that our post card effort was city-wide and affirmed Rep. Schakowsky’s commitment to vote against the TPP.

• The post cards for Rep. Bob Dold (10th CD) were mailed to his office along with the oppositional quote sheet.

• Nancy Tuggle, Roger McReynolds and Patricia McReynolds delivered the material to the office of Rep. Bill Foster (11th CD). They were told that the cards would be forwarded to the DC office.

• Vince Hardt along with Alison Squires and Lyndon Squires met with an aide to Rep. Randy Hultgren (14th CD). The aide stated that Rep. Hultgren has indicated his opposition to the TPP in various public appearances. In an article in the Northwest Herald, Rep. Hultgren is quoted saying “he doesn’t foresee the issue being addressed or voted on, or being passed, during the lame duck session.” I believe this makes Rep. Hultgren the second Illinois Republican in Congress to oppose the TPP. He joins Rep. Mike Bost (12th CD)

• Post cards for Rep. Adam Kinzinger (16th CD) were mailed to his office, with the oppositional quote sheet.

Chicago DSA was a member of a coalition of groups that organized Chicago demonstrations as part of the National Day of Action Against the TPP. This was aimed specifically at Rep. Quigley, and with the election of The Donald, modified to encourage the growth of a spine.

It appears that our work, along with the work of many others and the election of The Donald, has killed the passing of the TPP during the lame duck session. This according to folk connected to the White House, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Majority Leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell. However, the TPP is not finished. We need to keep our focus on this undemocratic deal and the others that are in the works and stop them cold: democratic trade deals, not secret trade deals.

Anti-TPP Demonstration
Which side are you on, Congressman Quigley? 11/17/2016 Anti-TPP Demo, cosponsored by Chicago DSA.

Beware the TPP: It Ain’t Dead Yet!

by Tom Broderick

It’s important to remember that President Barack Obama declared the negotiating process for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “top secret.” This forbade our elected federal representatives from discussing any part of the TPP with their staff or with those of us who elected them to office. They couldn’t even consult with anyone for clarity on the ramifications of the TPP.

At the same time, under the direction of President Obama, the U.S. Trade Representative appointed several hundred members from trans-national corporations to shape the TPP. They served on Trade Advisory Committees (TACs). These appointees were also sworn to secrecy, signing non-disclosure agreements. But these corporatists didn’t want anyone to know what was going on behind closed doors: codifying corporate power.

The way the TACs were set up is revealing. There are sixteen Industry Trade Advisory Committees (ITACs) and one committee to represent the public interest (Public Interest TAC). The Public Interest Committee includes members from labor, public policy health groups, environmental organizations and human rights advocacy groups. All combined in one committee. Evidence of the power of the ITACs to subvert democracy.

The ITACs crafted enforceable laws favoring corporations. The Public Interest TAC was essentially limited to providing guidelines with few enforcement mechanisms. The Obama administration gave the ITACs what they wanted and the deal was negotiated by and for the neoliberal order. The negotiations received “top secret” classification so that the public could be screwed. We don’t want guidelines for negotiations. We want the public to become the centerpiece of a different kind of trade deal ~ one where people and planet come first.

President Obama informed Congress that he plans to push for passage of the TPP before the end of this year. He hasn’t done so yet because he lacks confidence that he has the votes necessary to succeed. Expect Obama to ramp up pressure on the Democrats. The House and Senate are currently in Republican hands and their leadership favors passage. The trans-national corporations that have so much to gain are also pressuring and/or buying off our elected officials. We must push back and push back hard between now and the end of the year.

For various reasons, presidential candidates from the Green, Democratic and Republican parties have taken public stands against the TPP. The Libertarian candidate supports the TPP. The CATO Institute, a libertarian think tank created by the Charles Koch Foundation opposes the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) portion of the TPP. ISDS allows foreign corporations to directly sue the United States Government (tax payers) over what the corporations consider interference with their rights to profit. These suits would bypass the U.S. judicial system and be tried before a panel of three pro-free traders. In a report issued by the CATO Institute, Daniel J. Ikerson wrote “ISDS is ripe for exploitation by creative lawyers.”

While I’m happy that some presidential candidates publicly oppose the TPP, some of their reasoning is wrongheaded. Socialists are internationalists and support workers’ rights around the globe. We oppose pitting one group of workers against another. When grounded in nationalism, racism or sexism, international trade agreements must be defeated. In this country we have to derail any “America First” xenophobia. “America First” is code for corporate supremacy.

Also let’s be clear, when it comes to planet Earth, there is no Plan(et) B. International trade deals must confront climate change. We have to stop spitting in the soup we all need for nourishment. Neoliberalism and secretive corporate deals like the TPP are plagues. Popular resistance is key to changing the focus of international trade. We’re seeing this turn the tide against the TPP. Public pressure in Europe also threatens the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The TTIP is being negotiated between the European Union (EU) and the United States.

The French Trade Minister called for an end to the negotiations, saying “France no longer politically supports these negotiations.” Germany’s Economy Minister called the talks “de facto dead.” Upcoming elections in France and Germany have made the TTIP a politically charged issue. Britain’s plans to exit the EU also roils the water as Britain is a strong supporter of the TTIP. Whether or not the TTP and the TTIP fail, there is an even larger threat being secretly negotiated: the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA) which involves 50 countries and 70% of the world economy. It will allow trans-national corporations to do their worst to privatize services from health to water to finance to education. If something can be privatized it will be.

Chicago DSA has been fighting the TPP for quite a while. Victory is within reach. President Obama and the corporations that shaped the TPP will likely get their only opportunity to pass the TPP after the November election. That’s a small window and we can keep it shut.

In August, Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan declared that he has no interest in bringing up a vote on the TPP unless he feels the votes for passage are there. In July, Illinois Republican Mike Bost said he now opposes the TPP, the first Illinois Republican Congressman to take that position. Of course we also have one Illinois Democratic sycophant in Congress who supports passage of the TPP: Mike Quigley.

Earlier this year, Chicago DSA began collecting constituent post cards telling our elected officials to vote against the TPP should it come to the floor. We plan to have Chicago DSA comrades deliver the cards to the offices of our two Senators and the offices of our various Representatives soon after Labor Day.

What can you do to stop the TPP? Call your Senators and your Representative in Congress and tell them you want them to take a public stand opposing the TPP. You can call them in their DC office and in their district office. Alternate weekly between the offices should you be so inclined. If you want to limit your calls, then contact your Representative as you’ll probably have more influence with her or him. Honest trade deals must embrace human rights and preserve our planet. Honest trade deals must be negotiated in public.


Industry Trade Advisory Committees

  • Aerospace Equipment;
  • Automotive Equipment and Capital Goods;
  • Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Health Science Products and Services;
  • Consumer Goods;
  • Distribution Services;
  • Energy and Energy Services;
  • Forest Products;
  • Information and Communications Technologies, Services, and Electronic Commerce;
  • Building Materials, Construction and Nonferrous Metals;
  • Services and Finance Industries;
  • Small and Minority Business;
  • Steel;
  • Textiles and Clothing;
  • Customs Matters and Trade Facilitation;
  • Intellectual Property Rights;
  • Standards and Technical Trade Barriers.

 

Oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership

by Tom Broderick

There are plenty of reasons to oppose passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). As with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the TPP will facilitate large corporations in closing down jobs in the United States and off-shoring them to countries with lower labor costs and/or fewer regulations. This will result in more income inequality in the U.S. and greater corporate power globally.

The TPP will increase the importation of food into the U.S. while decreasing safety inspection. The governments of the other eleven countries included in the agreement would be allowed to declare the food safety inspection process of their countries the equivalent of ours. These eleven other countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Nothing personal, but I’d feel safer if food inspection was carried out by U.S. trained food inspectors responsible to our populace.

Large pharmaceutical corporations will be granted new monopoly rights and patent extensions to keep lower cost generic drugs off the market. This will lead to higher priced medicines needed to save lives.

Our federal government has a “Buy American” policy that calls for U.S. tax dollars to be spent, where possible, at U.S. based companies that produce goods or provide services. This means that we are investing in the people of the United States, simply a smart practice. The TPP calls for an end to this, and that is a recipe for an economic system that grossly favors return on corporate investment over the common good.

Big investment firms want to roll back Wall Street reforms that seek to impose regulations on large banks. These Wall Street banksters want to be able to engage in high risk gambling that puts Main Street in jeopardy. Why wouldn’t they? Being too big to fail means everyday tax payers will be expected to bail them out again.

Perhaps the most insidious provision is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). Foreign corporations will be able to by-pass our judicial system and directly sue the U.S. government before tribunals overseen by private/corporate lawyers acting as judge and jury. The tribunals could compel our government to hand over tax dollars to corporations claiming loss of revenue due to regulations that cover issues ranging from a clean environment to public health to public interest policies.

According to Global Trade Watch, the TPP would “newly empower more than 1,000 additional corporations in TPP countries, which own more than 9,200 additional subsidiaries in the United States, to launch investor-state cases against the U.S. government.” Such cases would never appear before our judicial system.

Falsely called a trade agreement, of the thirty chapters in the TPP, only six deal with traditional trade issues like tariffs and duties The agreement was crafted behind closed doors with the assistance of 500 “official” U.S. trade advisers representing corporate interests. The public and our elected officials were kept in the dark. The TPP can only be enacted by our elected Congressional Representatives. We can stop this corporate power grab with public pressure.

Below are the names and local phone numbers of the U.S. Representatives from Illinois. Find your representative, call their office and tell whoever answers the phone that you want to speak to someone about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Tell that person that you oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership and want your Congress person to represent your voice when and if the vote comes to the floor.

Rep. Bobby Rush, Democrat, 1st Congressional District, Chicago office: 773 224 6500.

Rep. Robin Kelly, Democrat, 2nd CD, Matteson office: 708 679 0078.

Rep. Daniel Lipinski, Democrat, 3rd CD, Chicago office: 773 948 6223.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Democrat, 4th CD, Chicago office: 773 342 0774.

Rep. Mike Quigley(1), Democrat, 5th CD, Chicago office: 773 267 5926.

Rep. Peter J. Roskam, Republican, 6th CD, West Chicago office: 630 232 0006.

Rep. Danny K. Davis, Democrat, 7th CD, Chicago office: 773 533 7520.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth(2), Democrat, 8th CD, Schaumburg office: 847 413 1959.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Democrat, 9th CD, Chicago office: 773 506 7100.

Rep. Bob Dold, Republican, 10th CD, Lincolnshire office: 847 793 8400.

Rep. Bill Foster, Democrat, 11th CD, Aurora office: 630 585 7672.

Rep. Mike Bost, Republican, 12th CD, Carbondale office: 618 457 5787.

Rep. Rodney Davis, Republican, 13th CD, Champaign office: 217 403 4690.

Rep. Randy Hultgren, Republican, 14th CD, Compton Hills office: 630 584 2734.

Rep. John Shimkus, Republican, 15th CD, Danville office, 217 446 0664.

Rep. Adam Kinziner, Republican, 16th CD, Ottawa office: 815 431 9271.

Rep. Cheri Bustos, Democrat, 17th CD, Peoria office: 309 966 1813.

Rep. Darin Lahood, Republican, 18th CD, Peoria office: 309 671 7027.

Also call your two U.S. Senators. Follow the same steps as outlined when calling your Representative.

Sen. Richard Durbin, Democrat, Chicago office: 312 353 4952.

Sen. Mark Kirk, Republican, Chicago office: 312 886 3506.

If you don’t know who your Representative is, CLICK HERE.

(1) Rep. Mike Quigley is the only Illinois Democrat to vote in support of Trade Promotion Authority (Fast Track), which was a procedural vote to allow only an up or down vote on the TPP. He joined all the Illinois Republicans with his vote. He also supports passage of the TPP. And for what it’s worth, his father was a union worker whom he credits for helping put Mike through college. Good wages?

(2) Rep. Tammy Duckworth is running for the U.S. Senate. If successful in the primary, she will face Sen. Mark Kirk. When talking with Rep. Duckworth’s office, mention that you’d like her to vote against the TPP whether she is in the House or the Senate. And perhaps wish her well in her Senate race.

Petitioning for Sanders

by Tom Broderick

Petitions to put Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders on the Illinois Primary Ballot won’t be submitted until January 6, which is just after the deadline for this article. The same holds true for delegates that we will elect to join him at the Democratic Party National Convention in Philadelphia in July later this year.

We hope to have one Chicago DSA member on the ballot as a Sanders delegate from the 6th Congressional District (CD): Alexander Franklin. The 6th CD is represented by Republican Peter Roskam, so we are very excited that Alex may go to Philadelphia and represent the views of Democratic Socialism from such a right wing stronghold.

Illinois will send 156 of 182 delegates to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) pledged to vote for particular ­Presidential candidate based on the results of the vote tally from the March 15 Illinois Primary. Not only is it critical to vote for Bernie Sanders for President, you must look for the delegates pledged to vote for Bernie. Look for the Sanders’ delegates on your primary ballot and be sure to vote for them.

The remaining 26 delegates to the DNC will be officially designated as “Unpledged.” These are “Political Leaders and Elected Officials” (PLEOs) and will be made up from 14 Democratic National Committee members, 11 Members of Congress (1 Senator and 10 Representatives) and one Distinguished Party Leader (President Barack Obama). One reason to send the maximum number of electable Bernie delegates to Philadelphia is to influence these few “Unpledged” Super Delegates.

Working independent of the official Bernie Sanders’ Presidential Campaign, Chicago DSA had comrades and friends circulating delegate petitions in the following Congressional Districts: 1 (Bobby Rush); 4 (Luis V. Gutierrez); 5 (Mike Quigley); 6 (Peter Roskam); 7 (Danny K. Davis); 8 (Tammy Duckworth); 9 (Jan Schakowsky); 11 (Bill Foster); 14 (Randy Hultgren) and 16 (Adam Kinzinger).

Elected Bernie delegates can influence the DNC. 102 delegates are to be pledged to presidential contenders based on the primary results in each CD. The more Bernie delegates sent to Philadelphia the greater their/our influence at the DNC. Rep. Jan Schakowsky will be a PLEO. She came out early for Hillary, but there are many voters in the 9th CD who mistrust Hillary’s deep ties to the world of trans-national investment and banking. Sending all of the elected Bernie Delegates to Philadelphia will deliver to Rep. Schakowsky a strong message in support of democracy.

Bernie delegates from districts that are heavily Republican can also sway events at the DNC. Sending a slew of Bernie delegates to the DNC from these districts will strengthen the voice of democratic values regardless of the upchuck delivered at the Republican National Convention. Voting for Bernie and his pledged delegates will only sow seeds for the future.

My appreciation to all the friends and comrades who freely gave time and energy in response to Chicago DSA’s outreach to get Bernie’s delegates on the Illinois Primary ballot: Giudi Weiss, Alec Hudson, Tom Ladendorf, Norm Groetzinger, Alexander Franklin, Sydney Baiman, Bill Barclay, Pat Dooley, Judith Gardiner, Paul Sakol, Hilda Schlatter, Diane Scott, Peg Strobel, Tom Suhrbur, Holly Graff, Tom Simonds, George Kazda, Gary Hagen and Dave Rathke. Hopefully I haven’t missed anyone that I knew helped, but if so, mea culpa.

The number of valid signatures to get Bernie on the Illinois Democratic Primary ballot was 5,500. Nearly 10,000 signatures were collected. Delegates for the ballot required 500 valid signatures from their respective Congressional Districts. In the CDs where Chicago DSA had petition circulators the unofficial counts are: more than 850 in the 1st, almost 800 in the 4th, more than 1,100 in the 5th, more than 1,300 in the 6th, more than 1,100 in the 7th, more than 700 in the 8th, more than 1,500 in the 9th, more than 1,000 in the 11th, nearly 1,000 in the 14th and almost 700 in the 16th.

Any who read this and worked for Bernie’s campaign know that elections are but one step in the process of bringing forth democratic socialism. DSA is part of that process. Bread and Roses together breathe democratic socialism. There will be more work to do whether or not Bernie Sanders is elected President of the United States.


Editor’s Note: Paid for by Chicago DSA and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. Dig it?


 

For more information on the delegate selection process, CLICK HERE.

Feel the Bern: A Great Chicago Fire

by Tom Broderick

New Ground: Chicago Democratic Socialists of America and the Logan Square Chamber of Commerce? The Logan Square Chamber of Commerce manages the indoor winter and outdoor spring through fall farmers’ markets in Logan Square on the near northwest side of Chicago, very near our office. Lisa Wallis, a Chicago DSA activist, suggested we apply for a table at the indoor market last winter and ask market visitors to sign petitions urging Senator Bernie Sanders to run for President of the United States. On our application, we also stated that we’d be promoting DSA. To our surprise, we were approved and provided a table and two chairs and a very good location within the market. Although this was before Bernie had announced that he was going to run, many people knew who he was and were happy to sign our petition. We had a copy of several of his position papers and one visitor read through all of them, said she would sign the petition, but felt that Bernie was not radical enough. Lisa Wallis, Michael Milligan and Tom Broderick staffed the table and enjoyed our first Bernie outreach.

When the outdoor market opened, we applied for space and were supplied a table, two chairs and a tent. This was still before petitions to get Bernie or his delegates on the Illinois Ballot were available. The response was tremendous. We had the four page flier “Who Is Bernie Sanders And What Is His 12 Point Agenda” printed by Chicago DSA at a union print shop, campaign buttons produced internally by Bob Roman and two versions of bumper stickers printed by Chicago DSA at a union print shop. We also had copies of New Ground and Democratic Left on the table. We had sign up sheets for folk who wanted more information on DSA as well as for folk who wanted to help with Bernie’s campaign. We ran out of sign up sheets for those who wanted to help with the campaign and had to use the blank back side of the sheets to keep up with the interest. Alec Hudson and Bill Barclay handled the first shift, Tom Ladendorf and Peg Strobel staffed the second shift and Jan Sansone and Tom Broderick took the last shift. We all commented on the enthusiasm of the primarily young, white market visitors. Let’s hope they vote.

Oak Park has an annual event called Day In Our Village, where local social, religious, civic and educational organizations can rent space to erect a tent and present themselves and their purposes. The Greater Oak Park chapter of Chicago DSA has taken advantage of this for years. This time we focused on Bernie: basic information about him, along with our petitions urging him to run. Oak Park is often referred to as a liberal community, and while it might be liberal on social issues, it is fiscally conservative and so of course we did encounter people who scoffed at the term “socialist.” We also encountered folk who declared themselves Republican as they strode past. It was also apparent that in Oak Park more white people than people of color knew the name Bernie Sanders. Along with our push on Bernie, we had copies of Democratic Left and New Ground available. Day In Our Village is an all day event and several comrades helped with set up, take down and staffing our tent.

GOPDSA
GOPDSA @ Oak Park’s Day in Our Village

Our experience at Day In Our Village made it clear that it was necessary to do outreach in areas of Chicago where a white skin tone was less prevalent. To that end, we took the “12 Point Agenda” to the African Arts Festival, which was near Dyett High School at the north end of Washington Park. Dyett High School gained fame for the hunger strike that local parents staged to have the school both remain open as a public school and offer a curriculum focusing on green energy technology. Visitors to the Festival were overwhelmingly African-American. While there were some who said they didn’t know who Bernie was, this was a minority. Many smiled as I handed the Agenda to them and said “We Love Bernie.” Nobody told me they were Republican although two said they were going to vote for Hillary because we could not endure another Republican in the White House. As this was an entrance to an event, and I was there early in the day, most people were going in, leaving little opportunity for discussion. But I was wearing my DSA hat with one of our Bernie stickers pasted on the brim and one of our Bernie campaign pins. I was also able to hand out a few pins to folk who took a moment to talk with me. In about two hours, I handed out 200 fliers.

We also went to St. Pius V Parish in a predominantly Hispanic area of Chicago. Here we were able to utilize the English language/Spanish language “Who Is Bernie” flier that we produced internally. Thanks to our National DSA office for the translation and thanks to Peg Strobel for producing them. People were entering and exiting church or passing by. Not a lot of people wanted to stop and talk and I’d say the brief interactions I had with people convinced me that few knew who Bernie was. Our work there may have been the introduction of Bernie to this community.

Toward the end of the summer, Alex McLeese, Bill Barclay and Tom Broderick traveled to “Fighting Bob Fest” in Madison, Wisconsin where we joined with our Madison DSA comrades to promote Bernie and DSA. This was a decidedly left political gathering and many groups were tabling for Bernie. Alex did an outstanding job of corralling people passing by the table to discuss not only Bernie, but pushing a democratic socialist agenda.

Paul Sakol, Alex McLeese, Peg Strobel, Bill Barclay and Tom Broderick worked around Humboldt Park, which has a diverse community including a strong Puerto Rican presence. Again offering us a chance to use our bi-lingual fliers. Paul Sakol and Bill Barclay went to a community center in the Austin neighborhood. Austin has a large African-American presence and a young women posted information about Bernie on her Facebook page.

Finally on Wednesday, October 14, petitions to put Bernie on the Illinois Primary ballot were provided. Each petition had space for ten signatures and GOPDSA was given 50 copies and urged to turn in as many signed and notarized petitions as possible on the following Monday. Though not immediately in everyone’s hands, by Monday, Julie Allison, Peg Strobel, Bill Barclay, Ron Baiman, Sydney Baiman, Jan Sansone, Hilda Schlatter, Paul Sakol, Joe Kransdorf and Tom Broderick submitted more than 270 signatures to the Bernie campaign staffer working in Illinois. That is more than 5% of the 5,000 maximum number of signatures that can be submitted. We have since turned in additional signatures and we were told that the state-wide count was over 3,200 signatures as of November 4.

DSA is working independently from the official Bernie campaign and are taking no direction from them. We are a creative group. We took a variety of signature gathering approaches. Of course visiting friends was prominent, but also walking several blocks from a CTA train station on the way home from work, standing by the Lake Cinema, standing outside Unity Temple Unitarian Church and Third Unitarian Church before and/or after service, sitting in a lawn chair in front of an apartment near a CTA train station and stopping commuters and passers-by, taking them to a business meeting among non-profits, taking them to a writers’ group, and sitting on a park bench on a shopping mall in downtown Oak Park and to various farmers’ markets as that season wound down.

At press time, the petitions to get Bernie’s delegates on the Illinois Primary Ballot were not yet available. The official campaign wants to create a slate of Bernie delegates for each Congressional District. The upside? Each collected signature is good for the entire slate. The downside? Double petition work for the circulators. But gathering petitions to get Bernie’s delegates on the Illinois Primary Ballot is critical. We need to get all of his delegates to the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia in July, 2016. In Illinois, we get to elect a portion of delegates to go to the convention. Delegate petitions (unlike Bernie petitions) must be signed by registered voters who live in the Congressional District where the delegates live. Paul Sakol, a GOPDSA comrade, is hoping to be a Bernie delegate. We hope to enlist more Chicago DSA members to circulate petitions within their districts to enhance Bernie’s chances to become President of the United States.

Editor’s Note: Paid for by Chicago Democratic Socialists of America and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.