“Low wages, no benefits, dangerous work. What is happening here is representative of what is happening across this nation.”
A Bernie-inspired political revolutionary on the streets in Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention talks about wealth, opportunity, and the importance of making global connections.
Nico House was in the streets last week outside the Democratic National Convention with Revolt Against Plutocracy. He is a self-described “political revolutionary,” inspired by the presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders. House, 27, was a paralegal in the U.S. Army and a student at UNC Chapel Hill. He is working to raise funds for investigative documentaries about political corruption and posts regularly to the blog Revolt Against Plutocracy.
You talk about both US and global inequality?
Yes, we believe if there is inequality anywhere, then there is not equality anywhere. The domestic and global economic systems are connected. If I get to have the audacity to complain that the ice cream machine at McDonalds being broken down – when people elsewhere in the world have nothing to eat or drink – that’s the least of our worries. We need to understand the global connection.
Why “Revolt Against Plutocracy?”
The goal of elites seems not just to make more money –they have all they need – but to reduce opportunity for other people. I am here as someone who came from a poor background –my mother worked two jobs so we could have Christmas every year. Opportunity is everything. In high school, someone took the time to say,“Nico, you are smart.” This teacher in forced me to join the debate team. He said, “You are really passionate so get out there.”
Has social media helped the struggle against inequality?
The founders of Facebook are about making money. But it’s an amazing tool that pushes us closer to equality. Facebook has spawned citizen journalism, thanks to sharing news, live streaming, and posting pictures with one-line headings. People are creating blogs and embedding their own video reporting. When the mainstream media was ignoring Bernie Sanders, we were live streaming his campaign events and increasing his exposure. I don’t even think Bernie understood at the time how powerful this would be.
What do you do when you’re not in the streets organizing Revolt Against Plutocracy?
Just got a job in NYC. I’m going to Law School, hopefully at Columbia University, and I intend to study real property law, human rights law, and constitutional law. And I’m trying to accumulate wealth, but not for the reasons people think. I believe in sharing the wealth. And I believe wealth creates opportunities for others. Eventually I want to create a foundation and help people.
Why property law?
I decided to do real property law because I personally lived in a two bedroom duplex for the entirety of my life in Fayetteville, N.C. And I see the dignity that owning something means, and how people create further opportunity for their family and future generations. So I want to teach people how to invest in property and how to finance themselves – and move toward a broader ownership that will reduce inequality.
What does political revolution mean to you?
It means a movement. The problem with the Clinton and Trump supporters is they try to compare their political campaigns with the revolutionary movements in the streets. Their campaigns have a lot of followers. But Bernie’s campaign has a coalition of leaders behind him. We have come here today because we stood out while everyone else tried to fit in. When everyone said let’s bow down and anoint Clinton, we said no.
What is winning?
The measure of our success is whether equality wins. We have more people politically educated now, as a result of the Sanders campaign. We have people engaged who will be watching municipal elections and Senate and House elections We will be paying attention to not only what happens in our country, but to what is happening around the world because it matters to us. At the end of the day, we have already won.
As you say, building a movement of local candidates who care about inequality is a big part of what’s next.
Yes, maybe in 2024, I might run for office. Especially after that Corey Booker speech – I saw what was happening – they kept panning back to Bill Clinton. I’m 27 years old now but in 2024, I’ll be 35 and I’ll be here if people want me.
We’ll be watching for you! Thanks Nico.
Chuck Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and a co-editor of inequality.org. His forthcoming book is Born on Third Base.