Remarks of Richard Hobbs at March for Truth at Cesar Chavez Park
We are here today to demand a full and independent investigation into Donald Trump’s Russian connections and ask that Congress take action on his criminal activity.
We are tired of Trump’s actions repealing environmental protections, attacking sanctuary cities, gutting immigrant rights, opening up national monuments and parks to exploitation, subsidizing killer coal companies, undermining consumer protection, gutting K-12 education, shifting funds from public to private schools opening up offshore drilling, and removing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. To the privatization and deregulation of the Trump administration, we say no!
However, I am here today as the Executive Director of Human Agenda to talk about two other uncomfortable truths. If you take anything away today, please take these two uncomfortable truths.
The first uncomfortable truth is that the U.S. has been the poster child of the greed world, not the free world, since its very beginning. Ever since U.S. citizenship was available only to white males in 1790 and voting rights only available to white propertied males, the entire history of the U.S. has been the struggle of native Americans, Blacks, women, Latinos, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, workers, small businesses, and climate activists for social and political rights and economic equality.
I recently spoke to a human rights class at San Jose State University about ESCs. For those of you who have not studied human rights, ESC stands for economic, social and cultural rights, rights which we have not included in our United States Constitution but other countries have, including South Africa and Bolivia.
However, I was talking to these students about another ESC, the ESC that dominated our society today: Exploitation in our economic system, Speculation in our financial system, and Corruption in our political system. As a country we have internalized these values, but just because they are completely legal and constitutional doesn’t mean they are right. A country built upon exploitation, speculation, and corruption cannot retain its false legitimacy forever, and we are seeing the legitimacy of this economy and government unravel before our very eyes.
We need a revolution of values.
The second uncomfortable truth I ask you to take away is that in addition to resisting and fighting, we need to begin the difficult task of building alternative economic and political institutions based on the true values we believe in.
Human Agenda has adopted five values, what we call DECKS values: Democracy, Equality, Cooperation, Kindness and Sustainability. As the moderator of Santa Clara County Move To Amend for 5 years, working to overturn Citizens United and end corporate personhood, I frequently ask the question:
Is the modern corporation democratic? Egalitarian? Cooperative? Kind? Sustainable?
How about our financial institutions? Democratic? Equitable? Cooperative? Kind? Sustainable?
And our political institutions?
We know that the dominant institutions of our country do not contain the values we hold most dear, and we need to do something about it by building alternatives that truly are democratic, egalitarian, cooperative, kind, and sustainable.
At Human Agenda we are working to build such alternatives.
First, we are supporting five local worker-owned cooperatives. From now on, buy your pizza at Slice of New York in San Jose and Sunnyvale, which within a month will be democratically run and owned by 30 coop members. Have hour house or business cleaned by TeamWorks, a sustainable cleaning cooperative owned by 20 Latina immigrant women. Have your apparel printed by Spectrum, and your yards converted into sustainable gardens with California native plants by the Smart Yards Cooperative. I am also part of a legal collective, CLARO, to defend immigrants from deportation.
Second, support SB 562, the single payer bill to allow quality health care for everyone.
Third, support a public bank in California to support public projects and social needs. At our Human Rights Banquet in December State Senator Jim Beall announced he would support such a California public bank.
Finally, Human Agenda is supporting the South Bay Progressive Alliance, a broad community alliance to elect candidates who will not take corporate campaign contributions but who do incorporate the values and support the progressive policies we care abou.
The great 19th century Cuban leader Jose Marti, in a reframe of “the people united will never be defeated, proposed that we unite to win. Unite to win. UNITE TO WIN. Ladies and gentlemen, we can never unite to win around Wells Fargo. We cannot unite to win around Monsanto. We cannot unite to win with candidates that take corporate money.
Just weeks before his assassination Martin Luther King warned that he feared the civil rights movement was integrating into what he called a burning house, the United States of America.
We need to fight Trump but also build a warm home, a new vision for America based on values. We need time and resources for self-care, taking care of ourselves, and care for our families. We need the time and structures to contribute to producing goods or services of value to society, with reduced hours at a living wage. We need access to free life-long education in all aspects of our lives, with reliable information. We need time and institutions to actively participate in the decisions that most affect our lives, from the family to the workplace to local and state government and to the United Nations. Finally, at the top of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we need time and resources for self-realization, to do the things that give us joy.
We can only do this if we fight and build new institutions, institutions based on democracy, equality, cooperation, kindness, and sustainability.