by Elinor J. “Ellie” Brecher, Editor PCDP Newsletter

Nancy MacLean has spent years researching the roots of the great political divide in America.

By any measure, the PCDP’s 8th Annual Udall Dinner was a smashing success. The April 13 event, which sold out, drew 420 Democrats, some of whom were in Tucson for the Arizona Democratic Party meeting earlier in the day.

The dinner featured keynote speaker Nancy MacLean, remarks by U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, and tributes to people and groups honored for outstanding contributions to Pima County.

MacLean, whose book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America (Viking, 2017), details the Koch brothers’ blueprint for essentially rolling back American life to the early 20th Century. She said that her most important finding was Charles Koch’s core strategy: “If you don’t like the outcome of public policy…stop fixating on who rules and instead concentrate on the rules.’’

But, she added, “If we have this battle plan, if we understand the real endgame, what are the implications for our work…because we’ve not going to let them win.’’

She called what Arizona did in 2018 “a promissory note on the future,’’ and offered the following pep talk: “Democracy itself must become a key focus of every Progressive’s work, as must alerting the public to the profound danger our Democracy is in,’’ not just from Donald Trump [but from] dark money in politics, obstacles to voter participation, gerrymandering, radical changes in Supreme Court, “to say nothing of the Electoral College.’’

MacLean called for “deep, structural reform of the rules of government in our country….We have got to rebuild countervailing power to extreme wealth,’’ via labor unions and community organizing, work on democracy beyond elections, “unrigging’’ the law and the courts that have distorted society’s rules.’’

She concluded by calling for Democratic unity.

“We have got to step up our game. We too have to think long term…We too must work to change the national conversation and the courts, and to do all this well, we must reach beyond our silos and build the alliances we need to reclaim the future. Because as the old adage goes: ‘There is no crisis that is not also an opportunity.’ And we are going to use this crisis to renew our country and we are going to reform democracy to save it and to make it fit for a new millennium.’’

The room gave MacLean a standing ovation.

Click here to see a list of sponsors and read about the honorees.
Click here to see more photos from the evening.