tv [untitled] December 17, 2013 7:30pm-8:01pm EST
welcome to the special thursday edition of conversations of great minds with tim carpenter tim is the co-founder and national director of progressive democrats were america he graduated from cal state university fullerton with bachelor's degrees and history and political science and was a key organizer for the presidential campaigns of reverend jesse jackson and governor jerry brown and served as deputy national campaign manager in the ku soonish for president campaign back in two thousand and four in two thousand and seven tim was named progressive activist of the year by the nation magazine and recently here in washington d.c. was honored by a number of members of congress including john conyers. keith
ellison and others. joins us from. amherst massachusetts tim for the we've got a problem with the video feed apparently the camera is way into tight on you so we're just going take your audio for a minute but first of all walk of the program. i think someone here if you will get the video but we're here yes we got audio there you go thank you. and thank you might just tell whoever's there if they can just pull the camera back i think that's that's the problem. that's not the problem never mind. so our guys are talking to each other so anyway let me start with you what first of all what got you into radar. what got you what you brought on me to politics is what got me in politics well i guess the honor system would be my sixth grade nine. screen school i was part of a group of at the time misfits who weren't out cooperating during. seven period
so we were corralled and taken into a sister paulette's room where she organized us into a busy work and part of the busy work we keep working on political campaigns we drew names out of a hat and i was fortunate in one nine hundred seventy i drew the name of john tani who at the time was running for the house of representatives in riverside county he was a disciple of the kennedy clan and was running for congress had i pulled his name out of a how did we were to volunteer and work on that campaign and i would say tom quite honestly that was my introduction to electoral politics and media so you've seen it from the inside and from the outside. yeah no i definitely started on the inside as a result of that effort i got my name onto a number of lists that not lead to one nine hundred seventy two i had a chance meeting with you or humphrey or i asked my father why were most of our friends working for george mcgovern at the time i enjoyed meeting hubert humphrey but wondered a lot more about george mcgovern and i think that was really the seven all event
for me at twelve years old living in orange county california behind the orange curtain not a great progressive thousand other i begin very involved in george mcgovern campaign and in fact on election night my father allowed me to cut school so that i could walk free six and that was a real introduction for me because i could understand why a two o'clock everybody was giving up the george mcgovern had lost so we haven't walked our precincts so that began my fight never to give up until all the ballots were counted and cast and that was said november of one thousand seventy two with george mcgovern's campaign to begin to take the democratic party back for the peace and justice movement so i think quite honestly that's where this road began where i find myself tonight you have been in this for for basically are all white. yeah i think that's when you look back on it now forty seven years one nine hundred seventy two is quite a memory seventy two led to jerry brown in one nine hundred seventy four that was his first race for governor in california and that was a wonderful experience to be part of. but jerry brown's campaign and works very
closely and his administration as far as a youth activist jury reached out involved us a very much once he was elected and that led to the campaign in one nine hundred seventy six tom hayden who at that time was mr outside coming from the outside to the inside the author of the poor here on statement s.t.s. and part of chicago and tom was really my mentor diggin in seventy six while he lost that campaign he formed an organization called the campaign for economic democracy and that's really where my political teeth were cut in california working at the grassroots level both inside and outside the democratic party to bring about social change that's remarkable and then to progressive democrats america out of that circle. but i know we only have a couple of minutes i'll try to fast forward a little bit seventy six gave way to a lot of outside work i was very active at the time in the catholic worker community and we did a lot of outside work calling for the redirection of military spending to meet human needs touring the reagan military build up in the early eighty's we spent
a lot of time and front of rockwell international northrop a lot of the military contractors calling on them to redirect their military spending so that was a lot of outside work in the early eighty's and during that time spending a lot of time in jail talking with my friends i became apparent that we were quite succeeding in our efforts to redirect military spending it was time to work a little more on the inside i tell the story quite often of drawing the short straw when my friend sent me to washington as an idealistic twenty two year old it was my mr smith goes to washington moment with a stack of leaflets leaflet in the halls of congress read a chance meeting which on conyers and it was congressman conyers in one thousand nine hundred one who said that we need help on the outside we're here in washington fighting the good fight against the regular ministration but we need you to take your our message back home and organize in your local community center there that was nine hundred eighty one and we fast forward to two thousand and four when i called congressman conyers back again and by chance to ask him if he would be with us when he launched progressive democrats of america. at roxbury the last day that
the democrats met in two thousand and four we nominated john kerry and john conyers was there that was to launch a progressive democrats of america was a long road but it made a lot of sense working both inside and outside of congress to bring about change and being part of the social movement we were the electoral arm and it was great to have congressman conyers with us to help us to bring out a connection together in two thousand and four two thousand and eight excuse me two thousand and four for roxbury two thousand and eight he was back in s.p.d. it grew and continues to grow and we've been at every national convention since that's extraordinary now there's no actual connection between progressive democrats america p.d. america dot org and the democratic party right there's no legal connection you guys are not part of the party you don't you know dance with the party is over and so no that's that's fair to say we've actually refer to ourselves as the insurgents were the third historically that are like your uncle that shows up at thanksgiving dinner or the democratic party for the most part we just assume not see it but we're the insurgents who are the ones working at the grassroots level to ensure
that the democratic party gets back to its progressive roots that f.d.r. promised us when it comes to social security health care for all that's what we're about we work with inside and outside the party we're very active in the party we run to be delegates at the state county level we think it's imperative that as local activists just as the tea baggers have taken on the republican party we as progressive democrats have the same challenge we have to hold our party accountable we do that by running at the central committees and fight to actually running on these issues whether it be as candidates ourselves in such a committee or more importantly to elect a progressive democratic majority i tell you we do that tom we got a lot of work to do so that's our job both electing local activists to move the party in its platform first it's about the ideas and then to track the candidates to run on those issues and that's that's great are you familiar with the concord projects you tube videos in the d.v.d.'s that they were passed you know back in two thousand and nine two thousand town about how to run for precinct committee chair and how the precinct committee. the person was actually more powerful than the
president as states in aggregate because they write the platforms and they determine who gets to be in the primary and all that kind of stuff. to people need to remember that this is the place where we as christians activists can't compete on an actual even footing i was citizens united it's very hard to get the megaphone it's hard to compete in the money game but it's a grassroots level working at the central committee level working as you said it's conference laid out we could run local activists and we can push a platform to our liking just in tucson to lopez to the progressive democrats to tucson just succeeded in passing resolutions in support of stopping the fast tracking of the transpacific partnership which you're just talking about in support of single payer health care it's time that we move beyond this whole discussion on whether or not the computer's working or how the affordable care act will work in reality twenty seven million people will be without health care once this is fully implemented so we're pushing at the grassroots level that's the model we use push these resolutions through hold the party accountable from california to tucson
about it she says whether it be the robin hood tax getting out of afghanistan redirecting military spending the christers are very much with this what's lacking is a political will in washington to move these directions and that's the work of pedia and i'm in concord was teaching tea party folks how to take over the republican party and they succeeded i mean that's that was the election two thousand and ten and they did this and absolutely and that's what you guys are doing the democratic party tim to to bring it up to the moment and then and then after the break i want to get back into politics but just since we're talking about you personally you're facing right now probably your most difficult battle with cancer. can you tell us where i was. sure in may of one nine hundred eighty one i was psycho simple a good melanoma at the time say street level four is very very lucky thirty one years ago i put the cancer behind me and it's quite successful up until may of this year which. i was dealt another. streak of bad luck to melanoma spouse and it's
unfortunate that it's back to the degree that it was had in may i was told of this year that i had very little chance really to fight it at this time but given my track record of putting cancer on hold for thirty one years we're back here again in may i was told if i didn't get a bridge shrug i'd be trouble in august and here we are december so yeah tom i'm trying his best i can to deal with the reality that i've been diagnosed both with terminal cancer and make sure and in twenty fourteen that we elect to press a democratic majority so it's a question of balancing two right now and so far so good. you know there are some people who suggest that if you have a mission that you're passionate about that you push through even health crises to think that that's helping. good think there's a fine balance and i also was diagnosed when i was twelve years old working in the george mcgovern campaign with what's called a closing swan the lightest that's why tonight many viewers me wonder what's with that guy snack on my next fusing my spine susan i lost my left eye
a long time ago so i've dealt with chronic pain chronic diseases for some time and i found that the best medicine is to get out roll up your sleeves and get involved rather than roll back and roll back into your bed and that's what i'm going to continue to do here with the news that i was given we just met as you know on wednesday we had the best progress around him we've ever had with p.d.i. inside the halls of washington at the rayburn building on thursday you're with this one congressman mcgovern and he tells her with this and p.t.a. leadership just spent this past weekend we're trying to do something that's never done been done before how does an organization that's in its ninth year having its best year organize itself so that the director can step back a deal with a terminal disease and at the same time move the organization forward and and we're doing that in pedia and i think the people have been supportive and the most important thing is that we're looking forward i'm going to give it my best shot i'm going to continue to fight every day of my life and bring this work forward and i'm going to prepare for the. news of cancer just as i live each day in the belief that
we can continue to make a difference and that's what's so nice about i thank you for that opportunity to have this discussion yeah we have just a little less than that before the break what is p.t.a. going to do in the post. world. well it's a good question we met this week and first we had to figure out whether or not there was going to even be a p.d.s. for subsets of the to assume that many of the people who have laid down their lives and been a part of this move the disc community for the last nine years and want to do that again i was blown away and honored that over twenty activists our leadership from across the country came together here and in western massachusetts to have that discussion and we've decided collectively we're going to move forward and we're not quite sure yet how we're going to move forward but the core team is committed andrea miller who serves as our deputy director is going to continue to work with me hand in hand with connor who serves also as part of our national team and and we've decided with everybody across the country our state leadership there that we're going to continue to organize and mobilize are on to something we'll continue
this p.d.s. luns we can but most importantly this work of working inside and outside the democratic party will continue under what name we don't know but p.d.s. certainly for a while yeah it's absolutely vital and anything that i can do to be a part of that and to help you know calm and more conversations of great minds and to encourage radicals but. dramas that can't be ignored to the. stories of others to the fuse to notice. the faces changing the world light snack. food picture of today's news. from around the globe. looking to. me.
i'm the best at it and i think a society bucket i think corporation kind of convinced that to consume consume can do i think the bankers are trying to get all that all about money and i'm passionately that for a politician writing the laws and regulations to attack corporate bankers on the head out. there is just too much rat is it a diet. that.
welcome back to our special tuesday edition of conversations with great minds with tim carbon or him as the tim is the co-founder and national director of progressive democrats of america media america dot org he was a key organizer for the presidential campaigns of over jesse jackson governor jerry brown served as a deputy national campaign manager the senate for president campaign in two thousand and four in two thousand and seven tim was named progressive activist of the year for the nation magazine let's get back to it tim there's there's been if we can wax philosophical for a moment here there are there has been two there have been two story lines that have gone through american politics. one that i think is embrace by most people is
the great man theory of history that franklin roosevelt for example just to use his presidency as an example we could we could there's a very good case to be made for lincoln and for jefferson being the same that he was just the right guy at the right time he was the man who was going to save america he he had the the right collection of experience and advisors on and therefore and he was virtually deified my god my grandfather was you know just absolutely you know f.d.r. was a god you couldn't speak ill of him i mean for my grandfather although my father was the opposite politically and then there's another story line which says that no it's not the man who makes or the woman. who makes change happen in a political environment it's the times it's the circumstances that f.d.r. the the real story of f.d.r.
these folks would argue instead of the great man theory of of politics it was a great time theory of politics the real story of f.d.r. is that he was a rich kid rich guy who had come from a rich family who had been governor of what was the most corrupt state in the entire united states to york state and had presided over a lot of that corruption came into the white house out of a plan on a campaign that had very little ambition associated with it it was mostly incremental change let's keep doing with her herbert hoover has been doing but once he got into the white house you he had occupy movement that was literally the you know the bonus army from the front door of the white house down of the potomac river he had a third of the country. you know the whole thing and and the times pushed him to become what he became i'm curious your thoughts on those two narratives of how history happens and how political change or is it different. one of the school that f.d.r. was a good listener is well if you read arthur slush and you're in the history of f.d.r. when the progressive community came to him in his first term and said what they
needed it was f.d.r. who challenged progressive community and said go out make me do it and if you compare his first state of the union address to his last one his fourth address you see far before he moved whether it be so security and social safety net that begin to i am of the school that it's the people that make the president whether what time it is wherever we find ourselves it's when we organize and we mobilize and history shows me that when a group of women gathered inside of falls and eight hundred forty nine with elizabeth said and she said b. anthony that they were given much chance and their lifetime that they were going to see women get the chance to vote so regardless of what time they found themselves they set the moral compass and set about on a journey to bring about the women's right to vote it wasn't tell on the women who were pounding at the gates of the white house during president wilson that we ultimately got that side to get the social movements working both inside and outside i think we've done a good job thanks to howard zinn in telling the story of the outside movement but i do think historically we have some storytelling to do i think one of the pieces
that's been lost that i think tom hayden is probably one of the best authors of this is how we as part of the larger social movement have impacted on inside you know i began with susan b. anthony and with elizabeth he said and we can fast forward to nine hundred fifty six when rosa parks said in the front of a bus and said i'm simply not going to move anymore and the young minister dr king begin what became of the civil rights movement as we know it today and it was through that effort that in one nine hundred sixty three sixty four sixty five the civil rights movement grew and why dr king ultimately was in the rose garden with president johnson to sign the civil rights in the voting rights act so it's the social movements working in concert with those inside the system that also will bring about that change who thought that a southern president under lyndon johnson would do that but between the assassination of john f. kennedy in the civil rights movement on that pressure and then fight. i would end with the anti-war movement when buddhist monks started the self in your late under offices of robert mcnamara a young activist began to gather at the pentagon as early as sixty three and sixty
four i doubt led to bella abzug and others to cut the purse strings and vietnam so i think it's a combination of the two it's what we do as activists what we do as citizens to move our president regardless of what time we find ourselves so also we bring about that change and that's why i'm so honored to be part of progressive democrats of america and be part of that social movement so what do you say to those people either a who are waiting for the messiah you know they're they the people who thought that oh we elected president obama and he campaigned as regressive so everything's going to change we can go back to sleep or we can go back to to work or you know pass the bog or the or the the martini or whatever a or b. those people who say well you know we tried go out in the streets and we said we showed up to occupy wall street and you know the cops beat us up and you know screw that. well we again i was honored that broke obama sent me a note on. his record are some of our work but we have no illusions that he's
a progressive don't look for the messiah as they often say in the buddhist community a kill the buddha when you see that we've got to take it upon ourselves it's our responsibility we've got to roll up our sleeves and get out there and make a difference i would argue that one of the reasons that occupy stalled was there were no demands occupy did a tremendous job in educating the mobilizing the outside piece what it loks was that insight peace and we'd like to provide out and link up s.p.d. with the occupy movement we tried to do that i don't think we've heard certainly the last of the occupy movement in the great work that they did on the education work that they did but i think one of the flaws of the occupy movement was no demand and i don't think we're going to ever see that again but out of that movement has begun the robin hood tax were beginning for the first time just as those young activists gathered at wall street two years ago to call to accountability wall street we're seeing legislative action demands put on the inside to bring about the fundamental change in occupy called for to take care of the ninety nine percent versus the one percent it's time that we tax wall street to
bring about the three hundred sixty billion dollars revenue that we need to begin to rebuild main street so i say don't look for the messiah i say get whether deep progressive democrats of america whether it be democratic socialist of america whether p.d.f. a move on whatever it is there's certainly a number of organizations out there to be a part of but the most important thing is to roll up your sleeves shed the apathy of the belief that you can make a difference because as margaret mead said a small group of people working together to bring about change in the end that's who doesn't so certainly by no means so look for that messiah if by chance we find a good politician by all means we'll do everything we can to help them but the barber leaves in the gym mcgovern's on fortunately there are two hundred forty one of them out so we got a lot of work to do and and p.t.a. has been doing an amazing job with that work can you give us just a quick recap of what you consider to be the major accomplishments of p.t.a. the metrics that might cause somebody to go oh i should take this group seriously. well i think the first thing is to understand about progressive democrats america what makes us different as we said from the outset we're part of
a larger social movement we understand the work both inside and outside to bring that social on heat inside the democratic party it's very difficult when you're a minority within a minority of which p.d.'s were the progressive wing of the progressive caucus the democrats are organized in washington by caucuses democrats make up what's called the progressive caucus the congressional process where half of caucus over seventy two members but in reality there's only about ten or fifteen of those members are really making a difference so we're part of a minority within a minority so given that it's difficult sometimes to measure victories but for me it's easy because i'm always looking at the world on how full the glass half full there's been a lot of victories in our work when the president gave up at a bend in the fight for single payer we never gave up and now here we are going through an incredible odyssey of the affordable care act the public option and all of that and we're right back to where we started bernie sanders has reintroduced single payer legislation jim mcdermott has introduced single payer legislation to help us to move single payer at the state level were part of that effort
congressman conyers has never given up on single payer six seventy six were part of that fight so by being part of p.t.a. you're part of the solution i think the major victory in what little time we have tonight on that i think will demonstrate to people where we are honestly making a difference is when you look at syria here we are tonight there are no bombs dropped on damascus right now diplomacy is working and i would argue that it's a result of grassroots organizations stopping this president from moving us into another illegal unjustified war when it came about in syria if you remember the night before the president gave his speech on the tuesday on that monday night over two hundred thirty five vigils were held across this country where grassroots activists said no and were we as progressive democrats of america worked on the inside with alan grayson and farber lead a small minority at the time mark polk at that said no war to plumb is the only way to go in fact p.v.a. for the first time in our history we were able to. other enough details and dimes to put an eight thousand dollar ad inside roll call to say no bombing diplomacy and
here we are tonight so i would say that's the major victory and finally the fight on snap and food stamps here in massachusetts i'm fortunate i have jim mcgovern as my congress member he's led to fight to reinstate the bodies that are being cut from food stamps that's a fight to the democratic party leadership gave up on and it's true the leadership of jim mcgovern that doc fight continues and we're proud to be part of that of p.v. and finally tom i just measure victories every day by the community in which you work by being part of that change shutting that out the theater being a part of real change we're winning every day p.v.a. numerically in our numbers are growing every day we come to washington as part of our roundtable discussion with activists and with congress members from around the country and the numbers are growing and finally the last thing i would leave you with on how we're growing and victories every month the third wednesday of every month today we delivered one hundred twenty two letters to members of congress by the end of this week we have delivered over two hundred seventy letters last month we delivered two hundred fifty this is a case where grassroots activists are taking our message directly to the members of
congress we don't have to go through any still tours we don't have to spend any money we don't have to worry about whether or not citizens united will be overturned we as activists and we as citizens can go to our members of congress every month and as we do that in p.t.a. those numbers are growing i would claim doubt to be a major victory of engagement and making about real change. what we just have one minute left him what do you see as is there is there a singular issue. that defines this or is it the movement that defines where we need to go forward will it's the movement to defines of for me there is fundamentally right now i'm in a fight myself i'm in a health crisis fight myself and dr king warned us a long time ago when you continue to spend more money on the military at the cost of your human agenda you're going to risperdal doubt but i think that's where we are right now we have as a community just got done voting in congress another eighty one billion dollars into afghanistan it's unconscionable that money's got to be redirected we put on the pup. sticker health care not worth fair but it's much deeper than that it's a political philosophy that believes that people matter over the military complex
and that people can make a difference to move their government to meet human needs and ultimately p.t.a. was founded on that belief that over time we've got to overturn what we see as the status quo today and get our government back to work for main street and for those that so desperately need whether it be a safety net health care or food stamps we've got to get focused on what's most important and that's to realize that government is our friend that's what we're about and i think it's right for that chance to dialogue with you absolutely brilliant thank you tom it's an honor and a genuine honor to be talking thank. you thank you tom tim carpenter for more information on progressive democrats of america go to p.t. america dot org and see this and other conversations with great minds go to our website had conversations with great minds dot com. and that's the way it is tonight tuesday december seventeenth two thousand and thirteen and don't forget ocracy begins with you get out there get active tag your.
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coming up on our t.v. edward snowden speaks again this time it's to the people of brazil the n.s.a. whistleblower has offered to help the nation and investigate u.s. surveillance but this time he wants something in return details on that just ahead and in texas the fracking industry is on fire literally homeowners fear the controversial practices lighting up their drinking water and in-depth look at the boom that's leaving locals busted coming up. and in pennsylvania a bar of soap can land you in handcuffs to people spend a month in jail after police mistook homemade soap for cocaine we talked to the warriors rubbing their records clean later in the show.