Miles Rapoport

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Miles Rapoport
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Miles S. Rapoport is the leftist president and CEO of New York based "think tank" Demos.

Rapoport and Students for a Democratic Society

While studying at Harvard in the late 1960s Miles Rapoport was active in the radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Harvard SDS campaigned against U.S. miltary involvement in Vietnam and the presence of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) on campus.

In an April 7 1969 letterto the Harvard Crimson, opposing Harvard president Pusey's support for the ROTC, Miles Rapoport and fellow SDSers Naomi Schapiro, Carlin Meyer and Rick Brown wrote:[1]

To conclude: President Pusey and the Corporation want ROTC to stay because they support the U.S. military and the policies it carries out; we feel that ROTC must go because we oppose the policies of the United States and we oppose the military that perpetrates them. The lines are clearly drawn; the time to take sides is now.

"Community organizer"

Writing in the Huffington Post of September 8, 2008, in an article entitled "From Organizer To Elected Official" Democratic Socialists of America member Peter Dreier listed several former US politicians who had begun their careers as "community organizers". They were late Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, the late Ed Roybal (California's first Latino member of Congress, elected in 1963), former mayors Tom Murphy of Pittsburgh and Andrew Young of Atlanta, Bev Stein, former chair of Multnomah County in greater Portland, Oregon, former Connecticut Secretary of State Miles Rapoport, former state legislators Gonzalo Barrientos of Texas and John McDonough of Massachusetts, and the late Sally Shipman, an Austin City Council member. [2]

Massachusetts Fair Share

During the 1970s Rapoport worked for Boston based Massachusetts Fair Share, an "in-your-face consumer group whose local campaigns changed the auto insurance system in the 1980s and stymied a plan by the telephone company to raise the cost of public phone calls from 10 to 20 cents."[3][4]

Fair Share director was Michael Ansara, a founder and leader of Rapoport's Harvard Students for a Democratic Society chapter.

Rapoport and the Institute for Policy Studies

Miles Rapoport and Demos are both deeply connected to the radical Washington DC based "think tank" Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). The IPS website names Demos as a "partner" organization and many Demos personnel come from IPS backgrounds, including founder Charles Halpern.[5]

According to the IPS website:[6]

In 1975, IPS initiated the Conference on Alternative State and Local Public Policies, which brought together progressive legislators to develop more equitable legislation.

Miles Rapoport was one of the "progressive legislators" recruited to lead the (National) Conference on Alternative State and Local Public Policies (NCALPP).

According to Information Digest, the NCALPP 1979 Steering Comittee included:[4]

Some NCALPP members supported a "Draft Kennedy" drive to enlist Senator Edward Kennedy for the 1980 Democratic Party presidential nomination. This faction was led by Michael Harrington, leader of the DSOC and Marjorie Phyfe, an official with the International Association of Machinists and a DSOC organizer.

Another faction promoted populist/socialist People's Platform put forward by ACORN-(Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now}.

Miles Rapoport, Director Connecticut Citizens Action Group, was listed among those participating in the Institute for Policy Studies affiliated Conference on Alternative State and Local Policies (CASLP) Bryn Mawr August 3-5 1979.[7]

Democratic Agenda

More than 1,200 people attended the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee initiated Democratic Agenda Conference held November 16-18, 1979, at the International Inn and Metropolitan AM Church in Washington 1 DC. The conference focused on "corporate power'; as the key barrier to "economic and political democracy," concepts many Democratic Agenda participants defined as "socialism.'

The Democratic Agenda meetings attempted to develop anti-corporate alternatives" through influencing the direction of the Democratic Party during the period leading to the July 1980 Democratic National Convention in New York.

Workshops included "The Struggle over Taxation" -Nancy Shier, moderator; Miles Rapoport, Jonathan Rowe.[8]

1980s activism

Rapoport was Director of Connecticut Citizen Action Group from 1979-1984. He also founded Northeast Action in 1985 and served as Executive Director of DemocracyWorks.

Connecticut Legislature and Secretary of State

From 1985-1994 Rapaport served in the Connecticut General Assembly. From 1995-1999, he served as the Secretary of the State of Connecticut.

Links to Communist Party USA

One of Rapoport's first acts on becoming Connecticut Secretary of State in 1995 was to hire Merrillee Milstein as his Deputy Secretary.[9]

According to the Communist Party's Peoples Weekly World:

When Miles Rapoport, now director of DEMOS, was Connecticut secretary of state, Milstein served as deputy secretary and led the implementation of the National Voter Registration Act and other electoral reforms.

Milstein was a prominent Connecticut radical activist[10]. She received the Peoples World Amistad Award in 2006 and was married to prominent Communist Party USA member Brian Steinberg.

In 1996 Rapoport was arrested during a Yale University labor dispute with Democratic Socialists of America member John Sweeney and Joelle Fishman and Blair Bertaccini, both prominent Communist Party members.

According to Fred Gaboury of the Communist Party's Peoples Weekly World:[11]

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The holiday season began in earnest recently with the Dec. 6 arrest of a Santa-suited union organizer in New York, followed with the Dec. 10 arrest of AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney here.
Sweeney was arrested at a solidarity march and rally in support of the Federation of Union Employees at Yale University...Sweeney said the battle of 3,700 technical, service and maintenance workers at Yale was part of a nationwide campaign to bring greedy employers "from New Haven to New Mexico" to justice.
Sweeney then led several hundred demonstrators into the street. When the group ignored a police order to disperse, Sweeney, together with more than 300 others, was escorted to waiting police vehicles...
Among those arrested with Sweeney were Laura Smith, president of Local 34; Bob Proto, president of Local 35; Miles Rappaport, Connecticut secretary of state; John Olson, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO; Joelle Fishman, chair of the Communist Party of Connecticut; and Blair Bertaccini, president of the Waterbury Central Labor Council.

Campaign for America's Future

In 1996 Miles Rapoport, President of Demos: A Network for Ideas & Action, Former Connecticut Secretary of State was one of the original 130 founders of Campaign for America's Future.[12]

Presidency of Demos

In 2000 Rapoport became president and CEO of Demos.[13]

Miles sets Demos' agenda and oversees the management of the organization.

The organization was founded in 1999 by "social entrepreneur" Charles Halpern who recruited such heavyweights as David Callahan, Rob Fersh, Stephen Heintz, Sara Horowitz, Arnie Miller, David Skaggs, Linda Tarr-Whelan and a then obscure State Senator from Illinois named Barack Obama to help him.[13]

By 1999, Halpern had assembled a talented working group to develop Demos. Among them were David Callahan, a fellow at the Century Foundation; Rob Fersh, a long-time policy advocate; Stephen Heintz, Vice-President of the East-West Institute; Sara Horowitz, founder of Working Today; Arnie Miller, a leading executive recruiter; Barack Obama, then a state senator from Illinois; David Skaggs, a congressman from Colorado; and Linda Tarr-Whelan, an internationally recognized expert on women and economic development. This working group would eventually form the core of Demos' staff and Board of Trustees.

Under Rapoport's leadership Demos forged a close working relationship[14]with ACORN and its voter registration wing, Project Vote.

Democratic Socialists of America connections

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine was the site of New York City DSA's 1996 May Day "bash". New York City Council member Guillermo Linares received the Paul Dubrul award for community action and leadership while UAW Region 9A Director Phil Wheeler garnered the Debs/Thomas award.

Barbara Ehrenreich, a DSA founder and honorary chair, was the recipient of a special award honoring her for her contributions as a leading feminist, cultural critic, and political satirist. Over 150 people joined in the celebration, including special guests Dolores Huerta of the United Farm Workers, DSA Vice Chair Jose LaLuz, Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger, and Connecticut Secretary of State Miles Rapoport.[15]

On September 20 2001 Miles Rapoport addressed a memorial service at CUNY for Richard Cloward-originator, with his wife Democratic Socialists of America member Frances Fox Piven of the famous Cloward-Piven Strategy. Several DSA members spoke including Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Gus Newport and Piven, plus New Party founders Joel Rogers and Howard Zinn and two since deceased socialist activists June Jordan and Tim Sampson.[16]

Democratic Left, Winter 2002

In 2002 Democratic Socialists of America organized a September 20-22 event in Washington DC entitled “Confronting America’s Low-WageEconomy.” The conference also kicked off DSA’s national campaign to focus attention on the problems of low-wage workers with a series of presentations and workshops setting forth the issues and possibilities for activism.[17]

Saturday presentations featured such speakers as author Holly Sklar, Wade Rathke, Chief Organizer of ACORN, Wendell Primus of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Miles Rapoport of Demos and DSA vice chair Harold Meyerson.

In 2004 Rapoport represented Demos at the DSA organised Socialist Scholars Conference held in New York City.[18]

Among those sharing the opening plenary[18]"The World Is Not For Sale!" with Rapoport were:

Take Back America

On March 17, 2008, at the Take Back America conference in Washington D.C. , On March 17, 2008, Kate Kahan, Karen Kornbluh, Miles Rapoport and Julie Smith spoke in a session entitled "A New Social Contract: Preserving the American Dream".[22]

Defending ACORN

Miles Rapoport was a srong defender of the ACORN, during its 2008 voter registration controversies.

According to a December 8 2008 ACORN memo[23][citation needed]

In October the RNC and the McCain-Palin campaign began an orchestrated attack against ACORN’s voter registration drive. After Presidential candidate John McCain attacked ACORN in a televised debate, ACORN organizers received a wave of racist hate mail and death threats. In response, throughout October, ACORN and partner Project Vote launched an aggressive fightback strategy of near-daily press releases, press conferences, and targeted strategic outreach to reporters to emphasize the importance of voter registration, debunk the myth of “widespread voter fraud,” and refocus media attention on the real threat to democracy: partisan tactics of voter suppression.
A number of key national leaders spoke out eloquently and took strong, principled action to challenge the false, partisan charges and denounce efforts at voter suppression,including Bob Edgar (National Council of Churches), Miles Rapoport (Demos), Julian Bond (NAACP), Andy Stern (SEIU), Randi Weingarten (AFT), Katherine Kolbert (PFAW) elected officials including Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., Rep. John Conyers, and organizations including MoveOn.org, and many others.

From a Rapoport op-ed in the Boston Globe:[24]

Over the last several weeks, a fierce argument has broken out over voter registration, particularly the registration efforts of ACORN, accusations of voter fraud, and the ability of the election system to handle the surge of voters on Nov. 4.
First, the expected record turnout is a cause for celebration. When I served as Connecticut's secretary of the state in the mid-'90s, my colleagues and I bemoaned low voter participation, especially among young people, and the disengagement it reflected from politics and democratic life. Not this time. Registrations have poured in, turnout in the primaries achieved record levels, and all indications are that the wave will continue through Tuesday. Democracy is vibrant and very much alive.
It is therefore a shame that the issue of ACORN's voter registration work has dominated the news about voting.
To be sure, ACORN bears some responsibility. It had quality controls in place, but should have leaned even further backward to ensure that problems would be minimized. Still, 900,000 valid registrations, including new registrants and changes of address, is an important accomplishment. Of course, all groups doing voter registration would be better served by reporting their results with more precision and a little less hype.
But overall, this is a trumped-up controversy. There has been no attempt by ACORN to encourage fraudulent voting, and on close reading the critics do not even make such a claim. ACORN has done a service by reaching out to people who might have been left out. Why, then, the ferocity of the attack?
In part, it is an element of a coordinated campaign directed against Barack Obama, demonizing ACORN and then linking Obama to the organization as a way to raise doubts about him.

Rapoport addressed an October 14 2008 Washington press conference at the National Press Club with Maryland ACORN president, Rev. Gloria Swierenga and ACORN spokesperson Kevin Whelan:[25][26]

Thorough studies of voter fraud in the United States have been done and the universal conclusion of the studies that have been done by us and other people is that the actual incidence of the voters voting under a false name and attempting to register multiple times and to defraud the system is minimal purging on nonexistent...actual instances of them [voter fraud] is so small" that it would be wrong "to use it as an excuse to try to discourage people from registering, to set up barriers with a draconian a voter identification provisions.

Voter registration activism

On October 16th 2008 Rapoport moderated a public forum "New York - Stealing The Vote In 2008" at New York University.[27]

The event was Organized and Sponsored by the History and Democracy Seminar in the Horowitz Center, Steinhardt, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Institute for Public Knowledge, all at NYU; the Judson Memorial Church, Demos and the New Press, publisher of Keeping Down the Black Vote.

Panelists included Frances Fox Piven, Lorraine Minnite and Margaret Groarke, all political scientists and authors of "Keeping Down the Black Vote: Race and the Demobilization of American Voters", to be published early 2009, Jackson Chin, a lawyer with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund an organization later made famous when it was discovered Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor once served on its board.

Meeting Andy Stern

Demos President Miles Rapoport and SEIU President Andy Stern in May 2008

In May 2008, Rapoport met SEIU President Andy Stern.

Support for Barack Obama's "Progressive" agenda

Rapoport has written several op-eds in support of Obama and has campaigned strongly in support of implementing a "progressive" agenda through the new administration.

In December 2008 Rapoport addressed at forum organized by Fenton Communications, with panelists Michael Vachon, an advisor to the chairman at Soros Fund and personal spokesman for George Soros and Laura Flanders of GritTV.[28][citation needed]

The forum entitled "Making Your Issue Heard in the Dawn of the Obama Era" focused on helping "progressive" groups to effectively pressure the Obama administration into making desired changes.

From the website blurb:

Soon after Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office, a group of progressives came in to lobby him on a host of issues. After hearing their presentation, Roosevelt told them, “I agree with you, I want to do it, now go out and make me do it.”
As progressives today, we find ourselves in a similar situation as Obama prepares to take office. After eight (or more) years of being outsiders, we finally have a president who agrees with us and wants to implement a progressive agenda.
So how do we make him do it? And how do you make your issue heard amidst the clamor? Here are the top ten tips from our esteemed panelists.

On February 26 2009, Mike Lux, Miles Rapoport of Demos, Deepak Bhargava of Center for Community Change, and Gloria Totten of Progressive Majority spoke at the Center for Community Change in New York at a forum entitled "Progressives in an Obama World: The Role of the Progressive Movement in a Democratically Controlled Washington".[29][citation needed]

The forum blurb identified Obama as a "progressive" and went on to say;

Since the 2004 election, the progressive movement has built a powerful infrastructure of think tanks, media outlets and advocacy organizations. Frustrated by the conservative ascendancy and the dominance of conservative ideas, individuals and institutions have put forward new paradigms for government and promoted a bold vision for the future.
But now a progressive holds the highest office in the land. As the movement struggles to define its role in the Obama era, important questions remain unanswered: What is the role of such organizations in Washington and how can they best create political space for Obama to act? On what issues should the movement compromise and on which take strong stands? How can progressives build consensus to make their efforts more effective?
The panel will feature progressive leaders Deepak Bhargava, Miles Rapoport and Mike Lux; the speakers will draw on two new books, ‘Thinking Big: Progressive Ideas for a New Era,’ and The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be, as they discuss what progressives can do to create momentum for greater boldness at a time when opportunities and challenges abound.

The American Prospect

In 2009 Miles Rapoport was listed as a member of the Board of Directors of The American Prospect.[30]

Democratic Lawyers Council

On April 12, 2010, Anne Hess and Craig Kaplan hosted an event entitled "An Evening for Election Integrity! - With Mark Ritchie, Minnesota's Secretary of State" at 214 East 18th St., New York City. Members of the host committee were: Al Appleton, Caron Atlas, Allison Barlow, Marjorie Fine, Frances Fox Piven, Anne Hess and Craig Kaplan, Allen Hunter and Linda Gordon, Riva Krut and Harris Gleckman, Ruth Katz, Sandra Levinson, Jaykumar Menon, Leah Margulies, Marion Nestle, Anita Nager, Miles Rapoport, Donna Schaper and Warren Goldstein, and Deborah Stern. The event was a fundraiser for Ritchie's upcoming 2010 re-election campaign as Minnesota's Secretary of State.[31]

References

  1. The Harvard Crimson: LINES DRAWN ON ROTC, April 7, 1969 (accessed on Nov. 8, 2010)
  2. Huffington Post, From Organizer To Elected Official, Peter Dreier, September 8, 2008
  3. Undue Influence website: SCANDAL UNRAVELS LIBERAL CONSUMER GROUP, December 6, 1997 (accessed on Nov. 8, 2010)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Information Digest August 24, 1979
  5. IPS: Partner Organizations (accessed on November 8, 2010)
  6. IPS: IPS History: 1963 to Today (accessed on Nov. 8, 2010)
  7. Information Digest August 24, 1979
  8. Information Digest, December 14, 1979, page 370/371
  9. Capitol Watch: A Farewell To Ruth Pulda and Merrilee Milstein, June 10, 2008 (accessed on Nov. 8, 2010)
  10. People's World: Merrilee Milstein mourned, July 21, 2007 (accessed on Nov. 8, 2010)
  11. People's World: Santa in seatshop protest; Sweeney goes to jail at Yale, December 14, 1996 by Fred Gaboury. Archived by Web Archive on May 4, 2005. (accessed on Nov. 8, 2010)
  12. Ron Arnold's Left Tracking Library: The 130 co-founders of the Campaign for America’s Future (accessed on Nov. 8, 2010)
  13. 13.0 13.1 Demos: Demos Backgrounder (accessed on Nov. 8, 2010)
  14. Project Vote: Project Vote and Demos Notify Missouri Department of Social Services of Voting Rights Violations, August 23, 2007 (accessed on Nov. 8, 2010)
  15. Dem. Left May/June 1996
  16. DSA: Democratic Left, Fall 2001
  17. DSA: Democratic Left, Winter 2002
  18. 18.0 18.1 Radio Free Maine: Product Information on Recordings of The World Is Not For Sale: Rethinking the Common Good - 2004 Socialist Scholars Conference, July 1, 2004 (accessed on Nov. 8, 2010)
  19. DSA: Beyond the Ballot: Making the Movement Matter, Jan. 27, 2009 (accessed on Nov. 8, 2010)
  20. Brother Malcom website: MALCOLM X: Radical Tradition and a Legacy of Struggle: Perspectives on Black Liberation and Social Revolution, Jan. 7, 2003 (accessed on Nov. 8, 2010)
  21. Speak Out!: BILL FLETCHER, JR. (accessed on Nov. 8, 2010)
  22. Campaign for America's Future website: Take Back America 2008 - Agenda (accessed on May 11, 2010)
  23. ACORN: Voter Registration - Myths and Facts (this pdf document has been removed from ACORN's website)
  24. Boston Globe: Striving for a smooth election, Oct. 29, 2008 (accessed on Nov. 8, 2010)
  25. TownHall.com: ACORN Downplays Fraud, Oct. 14, 2008 (accessed on Nov. 8, 2010)
  26. KeyWiki: Photo of Gloria Swierenga and Kevin Whelan (accessed on Nov. 8, 2010)
  27. The New York Democratic Lawyers Council: Democratic Law Briefs Volume 4 Issue 41: Fighting for Voting Rights and a Democratic United States, October 13, 2008 (accessed on Nov. 8, 2010)
  28. Fenton.com: Yes We Did Briefing (document no longer accessible)
  29. The Progressive Revolution website: Event: Progressives in an Obama World (article no longer accessible)
  30. The American Prospect website: Masthead (accessed on Nov. 15, 2009)
  31. NYDLC website: The Official Newsletter of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council. Vol 6, Iss 11 March 15, 2010 (accessed on Nov. 18, 2010)