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Being a National Activist

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By David Swanson

Remarks prepared for California Democratic Party Progressive Caucus meeting in Los Angeles, Jan. 28, 2006

I was asked to speak about "Creating National Action as an Individual," so here are a few thoughts. Back in May, five of us individuals brought a bunch of groups together as a coalition called "After Downing Street" We used the internet and radio and lots of activism to force the Downing Street Minutes into the news. Our success came from tapping into passion among a large section of the public for exposing the war lies and pushing the idea of impeachment.

We helped organize hearings in Congress and helped promote various bills that created debate but were killed in committee. We helped move opinion against the war by exposing its fraudulent basis. We helped make it safe for Congressman Conyers to create an investigation into grounds for impeachment. It wasn't five people who did this, though, it was hundreds of thousands. And it wasn't an organization, but a coalition with organizations as members.

Doing this kind of work does not require special skills. It requires NOT having certain skills – those of the strategist, commentator, and pundit. You have to not say "A filibuster can't happen." You have to be like all the people who phoned Feinstein's office yesterday and told her they were going to keep phoning until she supported a filibuster. You have to be like Cindy Sheehan, who told Feinstein to filibuster or face Cindy as a candidate for Senate.

[Note after the fact: that the majority of Democratic senators came around and showed some spine is a partial victory toward building opposition to the Bush regime. And those senators who did that need to hear our thanks, while the 18 Dems and all the Republicans who voted for fascism need to know what we think of that.]

Although you don't need special skills to be an activist, you do need to work very, very hard. You'll find that people get along with each other and get behind a project most easily if you do a lot of work on it and get a few other people to do a lot of work on it. Cut through policy and procedure and cooperative agreements and organizational structures – just do the work and the rest will come pretty darn close to just falling into place.

Use the internet to dramatically multiply your work by giving people ways that they can help.

And start with the issue of impeachment. A poll came out yesterday that was done in Pennsylvania. It found that 85 percent of Democrats want to vote for congressional candidates who support impeachment. Every national poll that has been done shows that a majority of Americans support impeachment.

Has your congress member cosponsored John Conyers' bill, H Res 635 to create an investigation? Find out. Make sure. There's no excuse not to support an investigation to find out the facts.

A Congress Member can also cut to the chase and introduce articles of impeachment. Get together a group and go meet with your representative and ask them how they'd like to become an international hero.

A state legislature can send impeachment charges to Congress. Form a statewide committee to lobby your legislature to do so. The rules of the House of Representatives say this can be done:

In fact, it's been done before:

Actually, twice:

Here's a sample resolution you can use or modify:

Here's a way to get organized:
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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online (more...)
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