The Washington Post reported last week that a Bring Our War $$ Home resolution that was being prepared to be passed by the Montgomery County (Maryland) Council was killed after intervention by Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin, the military contracting giant that employs more than 5,000 workers in the county.
The article revealed that Lockheed Martin contacted Democrats in Maryland and threatened to move their operations to neighboring Virginia if the resolution was passed.
The Post wrote, "Council members and county officials were called by one of Lockheed Martin’s top lobbyists, a state delegate, and the offices of County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D)."
So the process of public discussion of local impact of war policy was interrupted by corporate pressure. This is a perfect illustration of the classic definition of fascism: the linking of government and corporations.
In this case corporate wishes trumped the public good, democracy, and the rule by, of, and for the people. The "people" never had a chance to even have a crack at the question at hand.
This is an example of an organizing strategy that likely had misplaced priorities. Had the organizers who brought this resolution to the Montgomery County Council first taken it to the public in a grassroots campaign of education and gathering support, the public might have had a chance to withstand the preemptive attack by Lockheed Martin. But by taking the resolution to the County Council without first doing the public campaign it is quite likely that the public was largely unaware of what came down.
These resolutions are most useful when they come out of a larger organizing campaign that first creates deep and wide public education, debate, and consciousness raising. Then, even if they fail to pass a legislative body, the resolutions have become part of the public discourse and the impact is still made.
It is always much more work to do the grassroots organizing around these resolutions but the real value of them is in the public debate. Local organizers should consider the campaign approach before putting these important questions into the hands of politicians. As this case shows, no matter how well meaning local elected officials are, the corporate interests prefer to shut down real democratic debate before it happens.