On Saturday, 5 January, Delaware County Wage Peace & Justice conducted a march to Congressman Joe Sestak's (D-PA) office in Media PA. Delco WP&J were disappointed that a candidate who promised to work against the Iraq War appears to have instead gotten cold feet and has taken what they've seen as an unduly cautious approach that has produced very disappointing results.
So it was a surprise to see the Congressman appear 20 minutes before the march, where he conducted a quickie seminar to try and explain his viewpoint to us.
Essentially, he wants to pass bills that allow American troops to leave Iraq in an orderly manner. He wants to see to it that there's enough time and money allocated to see to it that a withdrawal is an organized, safe and deliberate one. The citizens there (including myself) see President Bush as wanting to stay in Iraq essentially forever and pretty much, as the saying goes "At all costs."
Our priority then, is to force the issue and demand a withdrawal. Once that's done and the withdrawal is clearly going to happen, then we can sit down and figure out what we need to do to make it orderly, safe and deliberate.
The second surprise was to hear that counter-protesters would meet us at the office. We stopped and coordinated and then continued on. I and several others were fully prepared to dialogue with them so that we peaceniks could calmly and gently show our pro-war brothers and sisters the error of their ways.
Alas, it was clear upon first contact that a dialogue was not on their agenda. From the first moment, it was clear that their intent was to shout us down and drown us out. They were so loud and their accusations were so extreme, we all decided it was best to stick with the original plan to just be quiet and ignore them as far as we practically could.
A video camera caught me shouting out a few rounds of "Support the troops, end the war!" and a few of us decided that a song they played (Proud to be an American by Lee Greenwood) was one we could wholeheartedly sing as well. But we generally held to the plan and when the conversation with Representative Sestak's staff person was complete (Sestak himself went off to another event directly after speaking with us), we moved off back to Media's Plum St Mall, where we relaxed and hobnobbed for a bit before breaking up and heading home.