Peoples Summit: Berniecrats Purposefully Ignore War and US Empire

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The good news about last weekend’s Peoples Summit, the annual gathering of Berniecrats in Chicago, was that 4,000 Democratic party activists were in one place howling for Medicare For All and not leaving anybody behind. The bad news was that not a word was said of the 16 year war in Afghanistan, the thousand US military and drone bases around the planet, and the crushing burden global empire lays upon ordinary citizens.

Peoples Summit: Berniecrats Purposefully Ignore War and US Empire

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Last week the National Nurses Union staged the second Peoples Summit in Chicago. The Peoples Summit is the yearly meeting of the Berniecrat faction of the Democratic party. They brought in about 4,000 of their own picked activists and supporters from around the country. There were workshops on various aspects of organizing and running local campaigns. Participants got to meet and hear stories about and sometimes from people running for state legislature, city councils and other office in various states and cities.

They got to hear Van Jones accuse Hillary’s 2016 team of setting a billion dollars on fire and calling it a campaign. They got to hear one and perhaps more than one long speech by Nina Turner paying drive-by attention to an array of topics including single payer health care, poverty, the crises of declining wages, bad water in Flint, mass incarceration though she didn’t use that term and more but curiously omitting any mention of the 95% of humanity who live outside the borders of the United States.

Nina Turner did a fawning interview with Bernie Sanders, and the senator spoke himself, but most of the coverage of the event featured Turner, who seems to have established herself as number two in the Berniecrat hierarchy directly after the senator himself.

Turner didn’t mention the war in Afghanistan, now in its 16th year with no hope of ending any time soon. She didn’t mention the ring of US drone bases in Africa and the Middle East, or US support for the nuclear armed state of Israel. She talked about people “rising up” and what they might accomplish “..with these hands...” She didn’t mention the trillion dollar plus F-35 fighter or the trillions more the US is committed to spending to “upgrade” its nuclear arsenal. It’s as though the warfare state the hundred plus countries in which the US has military basis, and the handful of nations which those bases are surrounding in a threatening manner did not exist.

This is no coincidence. These are grown thoughtful people who consider what they’re saying before they open their mouths, much less as they planned a meeting for 4,000 people. What you’re seeing is Nina Turner seamlessly adopt the position and ape the performance of Senator Bernie Sanders, for whom socialism pretty much stops at the water’s edge. Paul Jay of The Real news noted there were no workshops about opposing nuclear weapons or foreign wars or drone bases in Africa or shutting down the war in Afghanistan, now winding up its sixteenth year.

It’s not because the convention hall wasn’t big enough. It’s because the world Sanders and Turner imagine their voters live in is that small, even though arms traffic and the military needed to police a global empire eat up almost half the US economy. Sanders and Turner and the Berniecrats in charge of the Peoples Summit are committed to pretending the US empire doesn’t matter or doesn’t exist as long as they can, so they can lead millions of Democratic voters back into the parties of permanent war.

Next week in Richmond VA another set of activists will convene at the United National Antiwar Coalition. Some of them, including Green 2016 VP candidate Ajamu Baraka hope to rekindle the traditional antiwar movement among African Americans, the movement of which Kwame Ture and Martin Luther King were once a part. They expect to confront the black political class and its embrace of the warfare state head on, because war is real and the US empire is a real and present threat to the future of humanity, whether Berniecrats at the Peoples Summit can be bothered with it or not.

For Black Agenda Radio I’m Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at and on soundcloud as Black Agenda Radio.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. He lives near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)