On a hot August day in Denver, just a few hours before a vote at the Pepsi Center made Sen. Barack Obama the Democratic Party’s nominee for president, liberal activists gathered less than two miles away at the Central Presbyterian Church for a forum on economic justice and ending poverty.
A man strummed on an acoustic guitar inside the sanctuary, which was temporarily decorated with antiwar and pro-impeachment banners, all helping to make the facility live up to its name: Progressive Central.
“I think we can be on the edge of an era in this country of bold, dramatic change equal to the Great Society and the New Deal,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) declared during the session that followed, as the scraggly bearded actor and activist Sean Penn listened from one of the pews toward the back. “We’re going to need people with the mindset to do big things. Ending poverty is not a tiny matter—it’s a big thing. Universal health care is a big thing. Making sure we eliminate hunger in this country is a big thing. These are big, big, things. They require big solutions. Not little baby steps, but big, bold, dramatic change.”