Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

CONGRESS GETS THE BALL NOW

Congress reopened this week with their new, and supposedly fresh, crew of faces in the House and Senate. They are all ready to bring us hope and change, along with our new president-elect.

Just in case they might have forgotten what many people in the nation meant when they asked for change, a long procession of folks dressed in black carrying the names of people killed in Iraq and Gaza (the March of the Dead) silently moved through the streets of Washington yesterday. Seventeen in the group were arrested when they took the procession inside the Hart Senate Office building.

I saw a headline yesterday that Obama's new Secretary of War (same as the old boss) Robert Gates is asking for another $70 billion this year for America's two wars ("the good one and the bad one"). If approved it would bring total supplemental war spending for 2009 to $136 billion. The new Congress will get to decide on this very soon.

We had a bit of a snow and sleet storm here yesterday and it came at a bad time as I had scheduled a meeting in Portland last night to continue planning our spring Town Hall Meeting on Economy & War. All day I fielded calls and emails wondering if, like most sane groups do, our meeting would be postponed to another night. But I persisted figuring that if we got a half dozen people there it would be worth it. My schedule gets busy in the next week, including a short trip to Delray Beach, Florida for a talk to a group there. Much to my surprise 19 key activists turned out last night from up and down the coast of southern Maine and we had a great meeting. Included in the group was the crew from a Biddeford public access TV show called Out in Left Field that filmed the meeting and will air it tonight in their weekly one-hour slot.

We are going to invite our Maine Congressional delegation to the town hall meeting as we understand that the "bouncing ball of change" now sits in the court of the Congress. They will be the ones to decide if we keep spending our collapsing national treasury on endless war or will we summon the good sense and courage to convert the military industrial complex to peaceful and sustainable technology production while we still can. It's an open question and the peace, environmental, labor, and social justice movements need to get on the stick now and begin organizing to make it happen.

Already in Maine we see human services groups going to the state capital in Augusta and asking that cutbacks not happen in their constituency service areas. But the state is broke, flat out busted. Unless we connect the dots and cut military spending and transfer that money to the states for human needs and job creation then we are going down hard. Very hard indeed.

Sadly far too many organizations still refuse, for a multiplicity of reasons, to make these important connections. I hope they learn quickly to change course.

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