In light of "election-mania" sucking the energy out of the country and setting the parameters for candidates’ discussions and positions, we in the peace & justice, impeachment and anti-war movements must step off the sidelines and demand any and all democratic, as well as independent candidates to address and incorporate our critical concerns in their platform. To paraphrase Tim Carpenter from Progressive Democrats of America who said this morning that it is “time to step off the sidelines and raise the level of discussion.”
In order to accomplish this, all of us involved in the “movement”, no matter what affiliation, must present demands on a united front. Even though we are planning massive CD on the 5th anniversary of the war (www.resistinmarch.org), we cannot wait to confront the candidates until then. Most of us are regular people who work, who are retired, have lives filled with other things we hold dear, but represent a powerful grassroots movement with genuine concerns about our government. We don’t have a lobbying force of any magnitude or with massive amounts of money. All we have are our voices.
My proposal and challenge to you are to start group meetings where we can all brainstorm to discuss our positions, determine how we can puncture and pierce the barrier constructed by the election process and be heard by candidates who claim to represent us. Our issues of ending the war, stopping American imperialism, reversing global warming, cutting military spending, reversing legislation like the Military Commissions Act, the Protect America Act, the Patriot Act; ending torture, shutting down Guantanamo and using diplomacy not bombs, should be uniformly compiled in a comprehensive plan which we can then use to pursue these candidates and hold them accountable.
We can only do this if we are all united and INVOLVED. There are organizations such as UFPJ, PDA, and Code Pink who on their own do some lobbying and speak to the forces of power in Congress. However, every single one of us needs to participate in loudly making demands and drive our point home.
We need to establish FAQ’s for the candidates, Truth Squads roaming the Country, who go to their meetings where we confront them daily. This may be the only opportunity we will have to exert a major influence on the person who will eventually reside in the White House. Once they get there, all bets are off.
In order to accomplish this puncture and break through the political apparatus that is determined to keep us out, the peace and justice movement must join en-masse, put our thoughts, visions and demands in a large document and drive it forward.
Nationwide, while the candidates are traveling and meeting us in small towns and large cities, we must be there with our demands in their faces. If we constantly and persistently drive our message home, we can change the dynamics of the discussions and debates. We can remind the candidates that American military imperialism must end, poverty must end, and out of control spending must end. Corporate ownership of Washington, D.C. must end!
The voices of reason, our voices, are currently too fractured to truly accomplish what we need to do. We are marching to THEIR drumbeat, they are not marching to ours. So we must change the dynamics of the political beast, or we will never accomplish our goals and our children and grandchildren will be doing this for the next 100 years as we have been doing for the last 100 years.
In March 2008, there will be confrontation with the “pillars of power.” We will hit them as hard as we can around the 5th anniversary of this war. But to seriously tackle the goliath of government, a constant drumming of our demands is absolutely necessary to invoke real change, not empty promises of change.
It is up to those of us who see clearly where this Country has gone and is headed, to reverse the course by influencing the national discussions. We cannot fall back and take second best, or leftovers, or empty promises. We did that in 2006, we cannot allow them to fool us again. Don’t settle. So, if we are caught up in election-mania then we must set the terms by which the mania proceeds. This is our defining moment in current history to throw a knock out punch. If we stand back and pray or hope for change, it will not come. If we are tired, if we are only taking half measures, we will fail again.
Remember, there was a small window of opportunity about 40 years ago when the "movement" joined forces; civil rights, GI resistance and anti-war, and we almost made it to the other side of the looking glass. This may be our chance to finally accomplish that vision if we can harness the same energy now as was then. To do this, we have to strategize, put our collective brains together and get out on the road to haunt the presidential candidates every single day. As a movement of the people, we cannot just ignore the elections. We have to seize this opportunity and become a huge grassroots voting block that cannot be overlooked or marginalized.
So, is it possible for us to conduct meetings, and push forward together and create our own “magna carta” of demands? Yes, it is, but it is up to us to do it, or we will fail.
Start organizing meetings today. This is not an insurmountable task. This movement has the brainpower, gumption, determination, heart and soul. Just do it! The people truly united will never be defeated.
Hold these meetings, discuss the elections, fight about how to break through the “mania”, but get all those ideas in a document.
These documents can be collected regionally, shared, and combined into our own “Declaration of Demands.”
This is not hard to do, if you want it. The future is up to us!