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Shadow Conventions 2000
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JUNE 19, 2000
3:02 PM
CONTACT:  Shadow Conventions 2000
Shadow Conventions 2000:
A Citizens' Intervention in American Politics
Powerful Alternative to the Major Party Conventions Launched
WASHINGTON - June 19 - Today an unprecedented coalition of Democrats and Republicans, community activists and political leaders, comedians and celebrities announced a powerful alternative to the major party conventions, focusing on the issues that the parties just won't touch. The alternative - Shadow Conventions 2000: A Citizens' Intervention in American Politics - will parallel this summer's Republican and Democratic National Conventions, which will be scripted, crafted and controlled forums that relegate issue debate into obscurity.

"The parties' addiction to massive doses of campaign cash has distorted our policy priorities and led to the neglect of critical issues," said syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington, one of the conveners of the Shadow Conventions 2000. "The Shadow Conventions are a citizens' intervention to give voice to millions of Americans currently shut out of the national debate."

Held in Philadelphia and Los Angeles parallel to the party conventions, the Shadow Conventions will focus on three issues ‹ campaign finance reform, poverty and the wealth gap, and the failed war on drugs ‹ that are being ignored at both partyıs events, and will bring together some of the nationıs leading thinkers on these issues.

The Shadow Conventions are being convened by Jim Wallis of Call to Renewal, Scott Harshbarger of Common Cause, Ethan Nadelmann of The Lindesmith Center, Deepak Bhargava of National Campaign for Jobs and Income Support, Ellen Miller of Public Campaign, Chuck Collins of United for a Fair Economy, and Ms. Huffington who will all speak at the conventions. They will be joined by a broad range of activists, political leaders and celebrities, including:

  • Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Paul Wellstone (D-MN);
  • Governor Gary Johnson (R-NM);
  • Representatives Tony Hall (D-OH), Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), John Lewis (D-GA), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY);
  • Warren Beatty, Geoff Canada, John DiIulio, Al Franken, Jesse Jackson, Jonathan Kozol, Paul Krassner, Lewis Lapham, Skip Long, Bill Maher, Mary Nelson, Eugene Rivers, Harry Shearer, Ron Silver, and Diana Jones Wilson.

The Shadow Conventions will take place from July 30 through August 4 in Philadelphia, during the Republican party convention, and from August 13 through August 17 in Los Angeles, during the Democratic party convention. Debates and forums will be staged on each morning, preceding the party convention sessions in the afternoons and evenings. All Shadow Convention events will be free and open to the public.

  • Shadow Convention proceedings on poverty and the wealth gap are being organized by Call to Renewal, the National Campaign for Jobs and Income Support, and United for a Fair Economy. These groups are dedicated to ending the persistence of poverty during an unprecedented wave of prosperity. Despite the booming economy, one out of five of Americaıs children remain poor.

    "In an economy with record breaking prosperity, it's past time to put poor people on the political agenda," said Jim Wallis, the Convener of Call to Renewal. "The rising tide is lifting the yachts, but not all the boats."

  • Shadow Convention proceedings on campaign finance reform are being organized by Common Cause and Public Campaign. These groups are working to create a level playing field in political campaigns by reducing the role of special interest money and the influence of big contributors. The Democrats and Republicans are expected to launder more than a half a billion dollars in unregulated and unlimited "soft money" contributions from corporations, unions, and wealthy individuals in campaign 2000.

    "The political parties have eroded their once-noble traditions and have transformed themselves into something almost unrecognizable ‹ giant mail drops for special-interest money," said Scott Harshbarger, President of Common Cause.

  • Shadow Convention proceedings on the failed drug war are being organized by the Lindesmith Center, a drug policy institute which educates Americans on alternatives to our nationıs current failed drug policies. Almost half a million people are now incarcerated in the United States on drug charges, almost ten times as many as in 1980, and greater than the total number of people incarcerated in Europe for everything.

    "Drug policy reform is rapidly emerging as a new movement for political and social justice in the United States -- one that calls for drug policies based upon common sense, science, public health and human rights," said Ethan Nadelmann, Director of the Lindesmith Center.


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