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PIs, continued from page 5 Klansmen be released. Within minutes, the police showed up to disperse the crowd, which complied, albeit slowly. What happened next is unclear, but four protestors, including two local black males, ended up in handcuffs and were given criminal trespass charges even though, according to Dan Elgin, a legal observer with Austin People’s Legal Collective, “[they] were complying with the police order.” By the end of the day, 12 protestors had been arrested, including two juveniles. I SEE DEAN PEOPLE If you weren’t part of the Deaniac following in the 2004 presidential election, you might have felt out of place at this year’s DemocracyFest. The three-day conference held at Austin’s Huston-Tillotson University on July 17-19 drew more than 1000 progressives. Many of them toted buttons, T-shirts, and even bags, proclaiming, “Dean speaks for me,” “Generation Dean,” and “I’m a Dean Democrat.” This made some sense given that the conference was sponsored mainly by Democracy for America, the organization that emerged from the ruins of Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. The weekend offered panels on various progressive issues and campaign training and included, of course, characteristic Republican bashing. But the gathering of so many impassioned liberals also offered glimpses of the shortcomings that have plagued progressives for years: a diverse coalition that sometimes fractures along racial lines, too often only unifies around specific candidates, and sometimes degenerates into gripe-fests. “A typical liberal tendency is to go into a room and suck all the energy out by being really negative and not offering positive alternatives,” said Rita Nakashima Brock, director of Faith Voices for the Common Good. But DemocracyFest tried not to be a group whine-in. Participants focused on learning how to articulate their core values in clear, concise language. Many speakers during the weekend argued that liberals must create a unifying platform that office hopefuls can fol suggested that the theme should simply be “building a more perfect union.” Other panelists spoke of “love,” “community,” “unity,” and reclaiming the word “moral.” At a panel on religion in politics, Andy Hernandez, head of the 21st Century Leadership Center at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, argued that Republicans, in fact, do not have a monopoly on the “moral vote.” The moral vote, he noted, has actually decreased over the past few election cycles: 40 percent of voters in 1996 said they voted based on moral values; 35 percent in 2000; and 22 percent in 2004. So basically, he said, people vote how they’ll vote, based on cultural predispositions, not necessarily religionin 2000, morals were about defining the word “is” in 2004, morals were about gay marriage and abortion. The issue of race bubbled up on more than one occasion during the weekend. One observer at the democracy and religion panel pointed out that none of the four panelists were black, nor was there any talk of the influence of churches in the black community. At a panel entitled “Framing for Communities,” many in the largely Anglo audience became defensive at the suggestion that minority communities at times have felt excluded from Democratic politics. DemocracyFest was ultimately about networking, coming together on issues, working for a progressive revival, and agitating about the current state of the federal government. Democrats should, however, heed the warning of Jim Hightower: “Agitation without organization is frustration.” PBS NOT HISTORY YET Jim Lehrer, host of “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” on PBS, was at the University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center on June 16 promoting his latest novel, The Franklin Affair. The more than 40-year veteran journalist has learned to use his dry delivery to perfect comic effect. Noting that his wife’s latest novel is titled, “Confessions of a Bigamist,” he deadpanned, “You tell them you heard it from me: Kate has never been and never will be a bigamist.” This is Lehrer’s fourth consecutive novel to use a historical event or figurein this case, Benjamin Franklin throughout the story. The book, about historians who find documents revealing Franklin committed a murder, was motivated by Lehrer’s love of history, which formed the subject of most of his talk. After the speech, Lehrer opened the floor to questions from the 150 audience members. Questions about the current state of journalism, the Bush administration, and, of course, the fate of the public broadcasting system dominated. On June 9, a subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to cut PBS funding by 45 percent. Lehrer at first deflected questions about the future of PBS. Being a student of history, he noted that it has been threatened with funding cuts before. “It’s unlikely anything significant will happen if past patterns hold,” he told the audience. Past funding threats have never made it through the Senate. The political reality, he said, is that “some of the most powerful senators are from sparsely populated areas like Wyoming and Alaska.” Commercial stations do not serve many of these areas, so public broadcasting is the only source of local news. \(Indeed, on June 23, the One man asked him to comment on recent statements by Kenneth Tomlinson, the Republican-appointed chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which oversees PBS and National Public Radio. Tomlinson hired a private investigator to review PBS shows like Now with Bill Moyers, looking for liberal bias. Lehrer reassured the audience that if he thought the threat to public broadcasting was serious, “I’d be the first to stand up and say so.” Lehrer, who began his career as a reporter for the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Times-Herald, spoke of the value of public television. He said, “As the flow of news grows and the volume increases, you have to have a source you trust,” noting that PBS news programming is more trusted than any other source, according to recent polls. 30 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JULY 8, 2005