WASHINGTON - July 20- A new political organization will be officially launched next week in Boston, at the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention. The group, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), will reflect a broad desire by many within the Democratic Party to champion progressive issues, along with working to defeat President George Bush. PDA has already won the support of well-known activists and political figures such as Tom Hayden, and actors Ed Asner and Mimi Kennedy.
"The Democratic Party needs our help to regain its soul," said Kennedy, who has been a supporter of grassroots efforts. "If this is to be the party of peace, of universal, single payer healthcare, of fair trade, then it needs people to speak out on those issues." PDA will work to mobilize supporters within the Democratic Party on behalf of progressive office holders, including public servants and Democratic Party officials.
"There are many progressives, newly energized by the Dean and Kucinich campaigns, who are also new to the Democratic Party. We're going to do the hard work of integrating them into the party and shifting the balance of power in the progressive direction," adds Charles Lenchner, acting director of PDA.
Many newly established grassroots organizations who have sprung up in recent months - in the wake of the Howard Dean and Congressman Dennis Kucinich campaigns - are working together to ensure a Republican defeat and to empower grassroots efforts.
"Our strategy is to work with the grassroots movement and with other groups established in the wake of the Dean and Kucinich campaigns," says Kevin Spidel, former field director for the Kucinich for Campaign. Spidel will serve as the field director for PDA.
"Our goal is to win back the presidency from the Republicans," says Spidel, "and also to wrest the Democratic Party from the free trading, Iraq invading, Patriot Act supporting leadership it has now," PDA will campaign to transform the Democratic Party and resurrect the spirits of Theodore Roosevelt and Kennedy.
A number of groups have signed on as endorsers, including: Progressive Vote, Citizens for Legitimate Government, WeCount.org, Grassroots for America, Latinos for America, Rapid Response Network, Oklahoma Grassroots Campaign, DIY Politics, Punks for Democracy, Grassroots for Democracy, Oklahoma Grassroots Campaign, Latinos for America and Educators for Democracy.
These groups - and others - will meet on Thursday, July 29, for an event titled: "Building the Progressive Wing of the Democratic Party." It will be held at Roxbury Community College. This 'progressive convention' will feature talks and panel discussions with speakers representing the diversity of our movement. This includes individuals such as: Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vermont); Cynthia Peters, Fund the Dream DNC Coalition; Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio); Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan); Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Illinois) (invited); Doris "Granny D" Haddock, Senatorial Candidate (D- New Hampshire); Reverend Jesse Jackson, Executive Director Rainbow/Push Coalition (invited); Dr. James Zogby, Founder and President of the Arab American Institute; Marianne Williamson, Global Renaissance (invited); Kevin Spidel, Progressive Vote; Boston Councilman Chuck Turner (District 7). Other names will be announced shortly.
PDA supporters and members will also meet with grassroots organizations from around the country in Washington, D.C. on August 14-15th, to draft plans for strengthening Democratic resolve in supporting universal, single-payer health care, fair trade, human rights, and an end to the occupation of Iraq.
With Ralph Nader still commanding approximately three to six percent nationwide in most polls, many observers are concerned about a backlash from anti-war voters left out by the Kerry campaign.
Lu Bauer, an emerging leader in the Maine Democratic Party summed up some issues PDA will work towards. "While there are some efforts to win those voters back, they have not emerged from within the anti-war, progressive camp. This time around, it will take former Nader voters to win over real progressives and help defeat Bush. Kerry can't do it, because his position on the war remains out of sync with most progressive voters, let alone with early and strong opponents of the invasion of Iraq."