Progressives attending a conference called Take Back the American Dream are planning to organize and speak with a more unified voice.
They say they are angry about the rising gap in income inequality, and in corporations being given more power while more and more Americans struggle.
Progressive groups and leaders are hoping to add fuel to this grassroots fire of the Occupy Wall Street protests and turn it into a full-blown movement. It’s being discussed at this week’s Take Back the American Dream conference in Washington DC. Leaders like Van Jones, president of Rebuild the Dream, say once Barack Obama was elected as president, the majority of people sat back and waited for him to change everything. When he didn’t, he said, people got angry.
“We went from hopey to mopey and forgot to build a movement in the middle,” Jones said.
Labor leaders weighed in as well, including Leo Gerard, international president of the Steelworkers.
“I think America knows who’s responsible and they’re upset by it and they’re upset that these folks are still living as if they hadn’t destroyed millions of lives and I think it’s going spread across the country and I think it’s spreading because those with all the wealth are hoarding it and people that need jobs aren’t getting them,” Gerard said.
Van Jones spoke about another major movement that has gained a lot of ground in capturing the airwaves and pushing policy – the Tea Party.
“The worst people in America with the worst ideas have dominated the discussion and I’m not mad at them,” Jones said. “I’m not mad at the Tea Party for being so loud. I’m mad at us for having been so quiet.”
Those attending the Take back the Dream Conference pledged that they will be quiet no more, especially when it comes to communicating a stronger more unified message.
“We’re bigger than the tea party because our values are more accepted by more Americans than the tea party,” said Garlin Gilchrist II, national campaign director for Moveon.org. “Do you want good jobs for your family? Do you wanna have good healthcare? Do you want to have strong healthy communities? Do you want to have education that’s no cut, schools that aren’t crumbling?”
Others argue for different reasons that what’s happening on Wall Street is nothing like the Tea Party.
“These people are not like Tea Partiers,” said Tea Party Co-founder Mark Meckler.
“They’re not law-abiding citizens, they’re camping in a park where camping isn’t allowed, breaking the laws on the Brooklyn bridge. That’s not Tea Party behavior, that’s not America-loving behavior.”
Many Progressives, however, argue they are working to bring America back to the principles it was founded on
“Sometimes things have to get bad enough for you to get better and I think maybe people had some false hopes that without working too hard Obama would just solve every problem for us and we’d all be happy and that’s not reality. Reality is if you don’t fight for what you want you deserve what you get,” Jones said.
Progressive leaders and protesters alike place much of the blame on lobbyists, who they say work hard to funnel corporate money into the hands of lawmakers. In turn they say a system that benefits corporations and the wealthy is maintained and not the majority of American people are ignored. They say they are fighting because the system needs to change.
Whichever group protesters chose to align themselves to, it is clear that more and more Americans are revolting. Speaking to RT, journalist Nomi Prins notes that the Occupy Wall Street movement, for instance, is becoming bigger and bigger. She added that with new-found support from some major unions, the movement is taking an “important step towards increasing awareness.”
Prins said that the movement is more than just that – but more of a revolution. “It remains to be seen,” she added, however, “whether the momentum will continue.”
“What’s important is that they’re’ aggregating together,” said Prins. “Even Republicans are facing financial distress in these times.”