It’s been wet and wild here in Tampa!

Hurricane Isaac has certainly been a wildcard for everyone gathered on Florida’s west coast for events related to the Republican National Convention. Officials cancelled the Monday’s opening hoopla and pushed the start of the convention back a day.

Speakers from the Coalition to March on the RNC lead the first of many marches in Tampa toward the Times Bay Forum on Monday, August 27, 2012.

This is ironic, because for all of the green zones, police presence, and over-the-top militaristic protest ‘control’ measures put in place to ‘zone’ free speech, the one Tampa visitor that officials couldn’t control – nature’s course – was the force that had the final say in impacting the RNC most significantly. Many people didn’t miss the irony here: Hurricane Isaac had the impact of forcing the 1% and those that do their bidding to adopt a more humble/realistic position of adjusting their own behavior due to the circumstances beyond purely themselves and their own interests… isn’t that almost exactly what all of us gathered to protest here in Tampa have been demanding?

Elect Democracy’s Hillary Lehr in Tampa

Once Issac passed to the west of Florida’s coast and barreled toward the northern Gulf Coast, the RNC and smaller-but-still-passionate protests got underway. So did the lavish corporate and lobbyist-sponsored parties designed to win cozy spots in the hearts of political hopefuls. Well, as you can probably guess I wasn’t invited to those parties, so I can’t tell you what happened there. I think you get the picture.While in Tampa, Elect Democracy brought our message: “Stop Wall Street from Burning Our Democracy” straight into the streets. Dozens of event happened throughout the area designed to call attention to the real threats to democracy in the US. Here is Global Exchange’s slideshow from Tampa demonstrations such as the March on the RNC, March for Survival, March to Stop Voter Suppression, and Rally for Women’s Rights.

Elect Democracy teamed up with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign to offer workshops about Wall Street’s $4.2 billion investment in political influence and to discuss how this directly impacts our lives. When participants were first meeting one another, I asked people if they or anyone close to them was impacted by home foreclosure. Everyone raised their hand. I asked people if they or anyone close to them was struggling with student debt or unable to afford to continue their education. Everyone raised their hand. I asked people if they or anyone close to them was laid off or had trouble finding work in the past three years. Everyone raised their hand. A common response to protestors is (and has been for years), “Get a Job!” But the truth is, there aren’t enough jobs to go around, and Wall Street has played a direct role in shaping that economic reality. It seems like for more and more of us, one of our many ‘jobs’ is getting to work on put out the fire that the 1% has set to our democracy.

Elect Democracy workshop participants and members of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign in Romneyville, Tampa, FL.












Next stop: North Carolina. Let’s see what we find on the podiums and in the streets in Charlotte.