by Ann Garrison
On Saturday, July 9, Socialist Alternative and Movement4Bernie held the first of a series of forums titled “Beyond Bernie: We Need a United Party for the 99%.” Socialist Alternative is a nationwide membership organization which initially endorsed Bernie Sanders but has now endorsed Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Stein’s platform calls for bringing all the troops home, closing all the foreign bases, cutting the military budget by half immediately, and reallocating resources into a Green New Deal to create full employment, renewable energy infrastructure, public transit and sustainable agriculture. She also supports Medicare for All, the abolition of student debt and demilitarization of the police.
The Socialist Alternative forums were held in 12 cities around the country, including Berkeley, on Saturday, and more will be held in 16 cities between now and July 21, four days before the start of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
By the time the 3-5 p.m. Berkeley forum began, the Berkeley Library meeting room was packed, with 150 to 200 people present and standing room only. After a brief introduction, the Green Party’s Dr. Jill Stein addressed the crowd in a recorded video, in which she gave particular emphasis to her proposal to abolish student debt and explained that she could do it, as Obama did it for the banks, because the president appoints the chair of the Federal Reserve. She added that 43 million students are in debt and their votes could be enough to win the election.
In Kshama Sawant’s video address, she explained the urgencies that had caused Socialist Alternative to endorse Jill Stein:
“We cannot allow ourselves to be bullied into the same bankrupt “lesser evil” political logic that has brought us to this moment of crisis. For the left to win the changes Bernie Sanders has demanded, the things we have all been fighting for, we will need to build a powerful mass movement based on political independence from the parties of neo-liberalism.
“That is why Socialist Alternative is endorsing Jill Stein’s campaign for president as the best way to continue the political revolution through the November election. We are urging all Sandernistas to help us register the strongest possible vote for Jill in November and to use Jill’s campaign and this historic moment to prepare the ground for a new mass party to unite the 99 percent.”
Socialist Alternative member, Oakland resident and event organizer Rob Rooke explained how the organization had decided to endorse Stein. “Socialist Alternative had a national convention in June,” he said, “and at the convention we decided to endorse Jill Stein for president as the best vote against the capitalist parties, against the big business parties. All of our decisions at the convention were delegate votes. Our delegates are elected from the local branches.”
Both Jill Stein and Kshama Sawant urged the audience to join them at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to declare their independence from the Democratic Party. Stein, Sawant and intellectual activist Chris Hedges will all join Philadelphia organizer Cheri Honkala and the People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign in the March for Our Lives scheduled to step off on the south side of Philadelphia City Hall at 3 p.m. on the first day of the convention.
Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.