Each generation of Americans has been tasked with preserving and expanding this great experiment in representative government. Ours is no different. Although the assault thrown at us by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling (allowing corporations to pour unlimited amounts of money into our political system) seems overwhelming, it is up to ‘we the people’ to push back and say, ‘No.’ We are the people who run this country – not corporations.
In that spirit, I am pleased to announce that I will be joining with Stewart Acuff, Chief of Staff for the Utility Workers of America and Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, peace studies professor at the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minnesota) on a speaking tour: Reclaiming The Middle Class: An Evening of Conversation.
It is our hope that by engaging in discussion with the electorate we can remind them of the individual power they carry to fight back against the corporate interests who appear to control every aspect of our lives – from health care to education, to the very air we breathe and water we drink.
Our first stops will take us to the heart of the great Iron Range of Minnesota. On Monday, May 21, Stewart and I will be speaking on issues central to restoring strength to middle-class America at 7 p.m. at the Duluth Labor Temple (Wellstone Hall), 2002 London Road in Duluth. It was Paul Wellstone, who once said: “The people of this country, not special interest big money, should be the source of all political power. Government must remain the domain of the general citizenry, not a narrow elite.”
On Tuesday, May 22, we will be at Kaleva Hall in Virginia, Minnesota (7 p.m.). Acuff’s book, Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing, illustrates his belief that the struggle for workers’ rights is rooted in fairness, righteousness and the lessons of nonviolence exhibited by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. Acuff’s 35 years of union organizing has led him to say: “I know that as bad as it may seem today, and it may get worse, there will be a time when good people, average people, unite and turn it around. That’s been what’s happened in the course of human history and American history. Every generation has struggled to make this species more fair, more free, more just.
We will then join with Nelson-Pallmeyer on Wednesday, May 23 at Common Good Books in St. Paul at 7 p.m. Nelson-Pallmeyer, is also founder of Minnesota’s Arms Spending Alternative Project (MN-ASAP), and he is the author of the book: Authentic Hope: It’s The End of the World As We Know It, But Soft Landings Are Possible. Nelson-Pallmeyer is a firm believer in the power generated at the local level: “It really is the grass roots groups who are doing the effective and creative work to move us into a different future. That’s where hope really lies. Hope isn’t rooted in the notion that we’ll elect a politician who will bring about the solution. What we need to do is activate our own potential and stop being the consumers of politics and be more the protagonists for change in what has become a really ugly system.”
We look forward to going down this path and meeting with the United Citizens of our great country who will eventually be the ones who turn back Citizens United and put us back on the right path.