Access, Power, and Money

The Boston Social Forum and the Democratic National Convention: open, honest dialogue versus a $95 million infomercial

| July 2004

BOSTON -- The Boston Social Forum was a weekend of open discussions about militarism, genetically altered foods, truth in politics, healthcare, and many other issues. Sean Donahue, media contact of the Boston Social Forum, estimated a $200,000 price tag for the weekend event.

By contrast, the Democratic National Convention has an estimated cost of about $95 million -- according to the Campaign Finance Institute -- half will be footed by city, state, and federal taxes. The Convention is a closed forum. It is a strategic, televised presentation of a party platform to the American people. Because there is no discussion of the issues at the Convention the press covers the horse race: how the party is presenting those issues as opposed to their validity. The platform of the Democratic party either skips the topics so passionately discussed at the Social Forum or modifies them due to what many would call, 'political realities' and what others would call, 'corporate interests.'

While one in eight Americans are under the poverty line and one in ten Americans do not have health insurance, at this convention -- reports Broadcasting and Cable, a trade publication -- 'Independent party planners will throw nearly 50 blowouts costing $100,000 or more each.'

This is not merely grotesque because of the amount of money involved, it is outrageous because the money is an investment that will likely pay off. It is no wonder the Democratic Party Platform does not include a call for universal healthcare. If the 40 million uninsured Americans could throw a $100,000 party or pay $1,000 to have dinner with John Kerry then maybe things would be different. As is, money for these events has purchased access for corporate donors and business fat cats.

Thousands of young democrats got a primer on moneyed access Sunday night at what was supposed to be one of the hottest tickets in town: The Jumpoff, organized by Rock the Vote and Democratic Gain.

As hundreds of passionate, excited young democrats from around the country stood outside the club -- well over a thousand did not get in -- those lucky enough to be inside ended up waiting hours for a chance to see the headliners of the event: Bill and Hillary Clinton.