PDA Spends Fifth Birthday on Healthcare Not Warfare

By David Swanson, PDA
July 31, 2009, Washington, DC

Progressive Democrats of America has turned five. I’ve written before about what PDA has accomplished. On Thursday night it celebrated the five-year mark with a party at the end of a long day of rallying, lobbying, and strategizing on Capitol Hill. The party was fittingly held at Busboys and Poets restaurant, whose owner Andy Shallal has been a big supporter and participant in PDA.

Shallal spoke at the event, as did Medea Benjamin, Donna Smith, Congressman John Conyers, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey–who called PDA the conscience of the Congress, Katie Robbins, Congresswoman Donna Edwards, and others. Tim Carpenter, PDA’s indefatigable director, when introducing John Conyers mentioned that I was in the room but not to be arrested, a reference to a sit-in in Conyers’ office two years ago at which time Conyers had sent a lot of us to jail rather than open impeachment proceedings for Dick Cheney. You can’t get a better example of the way PDA crosses between inside and outside strategies than that.

Unless it’s this. Katie Robbins had helped lead a march of single-payer healthcare supporters on Thursday afternoon to surround and somewhat disrupt a Congressional Progressive Caucus press conference led by Woolsey. She recounted this with a laugh Thursday evening, with the congresswoman sitting five feet away.

PDA does this balancing act as well as anyone, and Thursday was a fine example. We spent it lobbying, rallying, and lobbying again. We met with progressive congress members and urged them to support retaining in their healthcare bill an amendment introduced by Congressman Dennis Kucinich that would allow states to create single-payer healthcare. And we rallied outside with supporters of creating national single-payer now! PDA experts and allies accompanied me and some of my fellow constituents to meet with my representative, who was duly impressed and possibly influenced. We also participated in an event with Kucinich and State Senator Mark Leno of California. Pennsylvania State Senator Jim Ferlo spoke at the rally, as did President Obama’s former doctor, Congressman Conyers, Senator Bernie Sanders, and a long list of other stars including PDA’s Healthcare Not Warfare co-chair Donna Smith.

[Dennis Kucinich made comments to Medicare for All advocates at the capital yesterday–watch here.]

And during all of these events, and walking in between them, Tim Carpenter had his cell phone glued to his ear, negotiating and strategizing with allies and congressional staff. And more and more they are listening. PDA’s second five years begin today! Let’s all be part of it!

David Swanson is the author of the upcoming book “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union” by Seven Stories Press. You can pre-order it and find out when tour will be in your town: http://davidswanson.org/book. Arrange to review it on your blog and Seven Stories will get you a free copy. Contact crystal at sevenstories dot com.