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'll be taking an 'unpaid leave of absence' from my job at the Global Network from December 15-March 15, 2020 in order to help my friend Lisa Savage on her campaign for the US Senate in Maine. She's running as a Maine Green Independent Party member and needs to gather 2,000 petition signatures of registered Greens during that period. I'll be back to GN after March 15.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

ENDLESS WAR OR REAL JOBS AT HOME?

Mary Beth and I joined 15 others in front of Bath Iron Works today where the Aegis destroyer is built. During the four weeks of Advent vigils are being held each Saturday, organized by the Smilin' Trees Disarmament Farm near Hope, Maine.

I was holding a sign that read "Our Tax $$ for Peaceful Production" and MB's said "Conversion Creates More Jobs".

We were there for an hour and at noon the Saturday shift hears the big horn blow and cars pour out of the facility for about 15 minutes. We got a surprisingly good number of thumbs up and honks from the workers. Many of them understand that a collapsing economy like ours won't be able to afford to build $3 billion war ships much longer. Hundreds of these workers have signed the petition making its way around inside the shipyard saying they want to build wind turbines. If we only had the political leadership in Maine to seriously push for conversion of the shipyard, before it is too late, many workers and people in the community would be cheering the process on.

Last night as I was preparing to go out the door to the weekly peace vigil in nearby Brunswick the phone rang. A man identified himself as Erik Hansen who is on the staff of our local Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. He said he had just read my blog that had mentioned her letter about opposing the surge in Afghanistan and wondered if I had seen her on CBS TV News the night before when they played a soundbite from her House floor speech. I had not seen it so he said he'd send it to me. He said they just wanted me to understand that she was opposed to the surge and was against funding it and I said that her letter had not quite made it clear that she would vote No on the war funding supplemental but that I was glad to hear from him.

In that same CBS News clip the reporter ends the segment by saying that while some in the House oppose the war funding there won't be enough of them to block it....meaning that the Democrats will team up with the Republicans to make sure it passes.

Our Congresswoman will thus likely safely vote against the war funding but won't stick her neck out far enough to make the Democratic party leadership angry at her. After all, she once told us that she was not going to become a, god-forbid, Dennis Kucinich type of politician.

But this is just what in fact we in Maine want and believe that we need at this moment in history. We need a real leader to represent the people of our state. We need someone to go to Washington who will fight hard to end these wars so those hundreds of billions of tax dollars can be used back here at home for creating real jobs that will help do good things like build rail systems and wind turbines and the like....help solve for climate change if you will.

I am sure that Rep. Pingree and her staff will be annoyed with our persistent demands for her to be more of a leader on these issues. They should not take it personally....we are just doing our job as citizens by demanding that they represent us, not the big military corporations, when it comes to determining what kind of industrial policy this country should have.

Right now the #1 industrial product of America is weapons for endless war. Many politicians appear to be happy with that state of affairs and play the go-along-to-get along game. That is not acceptable to many of us and we will continue calling on our elected officials to carry water for the people not the corporate interests.

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