5 Political Events Going on in Philadelphia This Weekend
It’s Independence Season in Philadelphia, and that means one thing: Forty foot hoagies and the Goo Goo Dolls! Gatherings all over the city in the name of democracy in some cases, American exceptionalism in others, radical organizing in yet some others. Here are some of the political events going on this weekend and into next week you might want to know about. And if you want to avoid the political fervor, then do yourself a favor: Avoid Independence Mall at all costs.
Young Democrats Gathering
Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel, 17th and St. James
June 29-July 1
During this annual event, Pennsylvania’s “Young Democrats” will come into town to get trained, caucus and elect a national committeeman/committeewoman to represent them at the Democratic National Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The weekend promises a “who’s who of PA politics,” according to PoliticsPA.com. That means Reps. Bob Brady, Chaka Fattah and Allyson Schwartz, State Chair Jim Burn, Mayor Michael Nutter and former Rep. Patrick Murphy will be on hand to talk about re-electing Barack Obama and some other things.
According to a PDF of their schedule, the training will include organizing and structure, communications, finance, community service, an LGBT caucus meeting, veterans’ affairs and tons of other stuff.
Ah, to be young again.
Independence Hall Tea Party
Independence Mall, 5th and Market
Remember the Tea Party? Sure you do! They’re still here and after this week’s Supreme Court healthcare ruling, you can only imagine the sort of anger/truth bombs they’re going to be dropping on Independence Mall. The theme of their visit on July 4th, from 1 p.m.-3 p.m., is “American Exceptionalism”—the idea that if you’re born in the United States, you’re better than everyone else. Sort of like Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s recent book, “No Apologies,” in which it is argued that no American should ever apologize for the untold amount of suffering the United States has unleashed upon the rest of the world. No matter what.
99 Percent Declaration
July 2-July 4
The 99 Percent Declaration Working Group was the first to decide to come to Philadelphia for an action during July 4 festivities. Too bad it was voted down by Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Philly and just about everyone else. Either way, the Declaration, which calls on taking money out of politics, and end to corporate personhood, and plenty of other stuff, is determined to go on by a now-independent arm of Occupy (see: not Occupy).
By last count, the group claims they’ve got 878 people coming in to participate in the conference, where they’ll “write and ratify a ‘petition for redress of grievances’ to be served upon the federal government before the November elections.” Led by Attorney Michael Pollok, the group will use this document and donations to attempt to bargain with Congressional representatives, which is part of the reason why the official arm of Occupy decided no, this is no good.
“I understand why the New York City General Assembly distrusts representative democracy and fears “co-opting” by Occupy spin-off groups like ours. We started in Zuccotti Park and I get it that Occupy does not want to bargain with the politicians who have sold out in exchange for a flow of super-PAC money…In my opinion, occupations and protests will not end the corporate state and a petition for redress of grievances is a first, constitutional, and powerful step towards dismantling corporate control of our country and calculated disenfranchisement of millions of Americans,” Pollok said in a recent statement.
Occupy National Gathering
Independence Mall – 5th and Market
June 30-July 4
The Occupy National Gathering working group has organized a gathering at Independence Mall that will feature speakers, organizing routines and camping. Lots of camping.
It’s been endorsed by about 60 Occupations across the country, many of which are on a caravan tour, picking people up on their way to Philly right now. During a press conference on the Mall earlier this month, organizers explained the event will feature a solidarity march with Healthcare-NOW!, an organization which is pushing for single-payer healthcare and conclude with a “99 mile march” from Philly to New York City, where they’ll meet up with Occupy Wall Street.
“During the five days of the gathering, we will spend our time sharing our skills and learning from each other. We will do so by participating in teach-ins, workshops, listening to speakers from within and outside of the movement, organizing joint direct actions, playing games, collectively crafting a future and breaking bread,” read a prepared statement from the Occupy National Gathering Working Group on June 5.
Although organizers have not obtained a permit, the event includes several musicians and speakers, including Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibi and writer Chris Hedges, who was featured in Philadelphia Weekly last week.
The Philadelphia Radical Convergence
Church of the Advocate – 18th and Diamond
June 30-July 4
Feeling a bit more radical? There’s a gathering for you. It’s called the Philadelphia Radical Convergence and goes from June 30-July 4, just like the Occupy National Gathering. According to the group’s organizers, “We have organized the convergence to show that the Occupy movement is not the only voice of resistance in this country. This is a nationwide call to action. It is a space for those who have felt Occupy in its current form demonizes and excludes radical dialogue, strategy, and action.”
They note the gathering is meant to extend the dialogue of resistence in the United States and that Occupy “lacks self-awareness and fails to recognize and learn from the history of the movements that precede it” and is therefore “short-sighted.” Similarly, the 99 percent rhetoric, according to the organizers of the Philadelphia Radical Convergence, is “merely a vague description of wealth distribution—it means nothing more.” It doesn’t challenge white supremacy, the destruction of the world’s ecosystems or account for the burden the U.S. and Europe are on the rest of the world.