Guest post from Tobita Chow, chair of The People’s Lobby, who will be speaking at this weekend’s CCI event
The Bernie Sanders campaign came out of nowhere and took everyone by surprise by nearly winning Iowa. He showed that people are fed up with business-as-usual politics and are hungry for a bold new kind of progressive politics. And now progressives all across Iowa and the country are asking themselves: “What’s next?”
I’ll be joining hundreds of Iowans at CCI Action’s “People-Powered Politics” convention on August 20th in Des Moines to discuss exactly that. Here’s a sneak peek at two ideas that I’ll be bringing to the table (borrowed from The Movement We Need, a pamphlet I coauthored at the Center for Progressive Strategy and Research).
First: There are many industries where the profit motive has led to runaway abuse and deep dysfunctions. The surest way to counter this is by bringing problematic companies under direct public and democratic control. That would mean that we the people own these companies and can ensure that they act in the public interest rather than at the expense of the public.
For example, we should consider bringing the big banks under public control, creating a new large-scale public banking sector. This would allow us to run the financial industry on the model of a public utility. A public banking system could prioritize investment in the things that we need to invest in as a society. We could move investment into areas that are stuck in poverty because they are starved of investment, rather than pouring even more capital into speculative bubbles in the tech sector and real estate. Imagine: how would your community look different if we democratically controlled a bank like Wells Fargo and could decide what it invested in, and where?
Second: We need to globalize our movement. We live in a global economy, and many of the problems we face have to do with corporations whose operations span the globe. As long as our movement remains within the borders of the US, it will be difficult to confront these multinational corporations effectively. It’s like trying to fight a hydra when you can only attack one of its heads.
Luckily we have counterparts around the world who are looking for new political and economic alternatives, just like we are. We should explore relationships with some of the progressive political movements and parties that exist in many other countries. We should also pay close attention to workers movements abroad. China, for example, is currently the global epicenter for wildcat strikes. In China and many other countries around the world, workers are rising up to confront the power of the same multinational corporations that progressives are struggling against here in the US.
Working people in the US and around the world have a shared self-interest in confronting corporate power by creating a global labor rights regime, including global minimum wage standards, a binding factory inspection system, and a universal right to organize. We can more effectively confront global corporate power by joining forces with potential allies in other countries and raising up a shared vision of global economic justice.
The lackluster recovery since the 2008 economic crisis and people’s growing frustration with out-of-touch elites has created a huge opportunity for broader and deeper progress than most progressives are used to thinking about. We should take advantage of this moment by developing a much more ambitious vision of the future we want to create.
Tobita Chow is the chair of The People’s Lobby, a grassroots political organization in Chicago that supports policies and candidates that put the needs of people and the planet first. He’s also the co-founder of the “Moral Mondays Illinois” campaign. Contact: email@example.com
Chow will be a keynote speaker at CCI Action’s “People-Powered Politics” convention on Saturday, August 20th in Des Moines. The event will be held at First Christian Church and run from 8:30am-3:00pm. For more information or to register, call 515-255-0800 or go to www.cciaction.org
by Pat Rynard