The People’s Summit, which took place over the weekend, has raised controversy among some progressives. Media outlets including The Guardian referred to the People’s Summit as a ‘turning point in the Bernie revolution.’ However, many were less optimistic. Some criticized the summit for addressing or glossing over the deep corruption in the Democratic party establishment revealed by the DNC leaks last year, as well as lack of access to the event.
The backlash occurred despite the presence of celebrated figures among the progressive left at the Summit, including the headline speaker Bernie Sanders. Other speakers included Amy Goodman, David Sirota, Van Jones, Nina Turner, Linda Sarsour and Rosario Dawson among others. Dr. Cornel West was scheduled to speak at the Summit but did not appear due to a scheduling conflict.
Another significant absence from the Summit was that of progressive Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. Despite having been scheduled to speak at the Summit, Gabbard did not appear; apparently this was due to a scheduling conflict. Gabbard’s absence and the late change in the scheduling of the event caused a flurry of speculation that her absence may have been due to controversy surrounding Gabbard’s criticism of recent military strikes on Syria. Organizers of the event were forced to respond via Twitter:
Groups supporting the event included Moveon.Org, which is funded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros. Soros had financially backed Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Presidential campaign. Politico reported that state Soros had given $25 million in funding to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, while The Wall Street Journal reported the business magnate had lost up to $1 billion in stock value in the wake of Clinton’s loss. This caused concern among sone progressives who felt Clinton and the Democratic Party leadership had cheated Bernie Sanders out of the primary nomination last year. Some such voters are currently suing the DNC for fraud in a class action lawsuit in response, which Disobedient Media has previously discussed.
This is not the first time such ties between Soros and supposedly grassroots events have been criticized. Earlier this year, The New York Times observed that over fifty groups who had partnered with the Women’s March were linked to George Soros. The Times specifically mentioned Moveon.org’s financial links with George Soros. The article also characterized Moveon.org as “fiercely pro-Clinton.” It is important to note these links as written by The New York Times earlier this year because Moveon.org was also involved with the People’s Summit, according to the incomplete list made available by the Summit’s website.
That groups funded by Soros and who supported Clinton would partner with a reportedly Bernie Sanders-centric progressive event is cause for deep concern for those who have called for accountability in the wake of the disastrous 2016 Democratic Primary. Concerns regarding Soros’ influence over the Democratic Party were compounded further when Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer was photographed dining with Alex Soros’ on instagram on Friday. The Daily Caller reported that the pair met on June 9, the first day of the People’s Summit.
Another commonality shared between the Women’s March earlier this year and The People’s Summit was the presence of Linda Sarsour. Sarsour was a central organizer of the Women’s March, and has proved a controversial figure in recent months. The Daily Caller reported in January that Sarsour had been photographed with a former Hamas member who had been jailed due to alleged association with the terrorist group. Sarsour has also served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Some have criticized Sarsour not only for associating with alleged terrorists, but for what has been interpreted as an expression of antisemitism in some instances.
Although Senator Bernie Sanders called the Democratic party an absolute failure during his headline appearance, the call for fundamental change rang empty with many former supporters. Sanders did not address entrenched corruption in the Democratic Party leadership that was exposed by the 2016 Primary. Instead, disappointment for former Sanders supporters was strengthened by legacy news coverage of the Summit that praised Sanders while side-stepping the issue of corruption entirely.
For many former democratic voters and those on the left of the anti establishment movement, this is simply no longer good enough.