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: Bath, Maine, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

INSIDE OUR CONGRESSWOMAN'S CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISER


Lisa with one of the Pingree campaign donors

Eight of us from the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home went to nearby Freeport yesterday to hold a vigil outside a campaign fundraiser for our Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (Democrat). The event was held out in the country at the luxurious home of a developer so we had to set up our picket line on the road by the entrance to the lane that went up to the house. Six of us stood there with our banner and signs. Two of our folks, who had invitations to the fundraiser, went inside.

Lisa Savage, the leader of CodePink in Maine, was one of those who went inside. She put on her pink wig, her pink apron, and began handing out literature to the 80 or so people who had gathered and were waiting for Rep. Pingree to arrive.

People had to park their cars out on the road and then walk past our picket line to get into the event. We told them that Rep. Pingree, just last week, voted in favor of another $159 billion for war spending for fiscal year 2011. We also told these good liberals going into the event, that Maine's other Congressman Mike Michaud (also a Democrat) voted "no" on the war funding authorization. We also told them that another $33 billion war funding supplemental, for the remainder of 2010, was soon to be voted on and Pingree had yet to declare how she will vote on it.

After about 45 minutes of us standing out on the road, Rep. Pingree drove up and jumped out of her SUV and went around shaking our hands telling us that she was sorry we didn't agree and that we could come to her office anytime and talk. Gary Higginbottom was standing with us and had just been inside her office last week to talk with her about war funding. (She had refused then to say how she'd vote on the upcoming $33 billion supplemental.) Pingree told us she only voted for the 2011 bill because it included language to repeal the anti-gay Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy in the military.

Pingree then tried to pull an old political trick of pitting the anti-war community against the gay community by inferring that she had done the politically correct thing and how could we expect her not to vote for the gay community. We reminded her that Rep. Michaud had voted "yes" to support the DADT amendment but then voted against the whole bill because of the war $$ in it. We suggested she could have done the same. (The 2011 war $$ authorization bill passed by a margin of 229-186.)

During this whole interchange you could clearly see that Pingree did not like it one bit that we had come to her event. After all, she is a Democrat and says she is against war spending and that should be enough. People like us are only supposed to protest against Republicans and people like George W. Bush - the warmonger.

Inside the fundraiser Lisa was steadily working the crowd and people were taking the literature and no one was asking her to leave. Eventually Pingree jumped back into her car and drove up the lane to the party. When she got out of the car Lisa greeted her. Here is Lisa's take on that moment:

Chellie was less thrilled about the PINK presence inside her fundraiser. Visibly irritated by the stop war spending message aimed at her, she said "I know you people don't like how I voted, but I voted for DADT." Yeah, right.

We figure that after we left the event, many of the folks who had come to attend the fundraiser had a few questions for Chellie. One woman, on her way into the party, told us, "Yes I know how she voted, I've been following this and that's partly why I came, I want to ask her some questions."

So we accomplished our purpose last evening. We wanted Chellie's supporters, and campaign donors, to know how she voted on war spending and to make Chellie have to explain herself to them face-to-face.

As long as Rep. Pingree keeps telling people that she is opposed to the war, and thinks we should stop funding it, then we are going to hold her feet to the fire. We will continue to press her, and all our other members of Congress to Bring Our War $$ Home.

What we are looking for from Rep. Pingree is leadership on this issue. We want to hear her speak out more in Maine about how war spending impacts our state. We also want to see her work harder in Washington DC to end the wars.

If she does that we will support her. If she does not then we will continue to educate the public how our Congresswoman says one thing but does another. At this point she is starting to tarnish her reputation.

Throughout this whole campaign we are trying to keep two key things in mind. First, and foremost, are the innocent civilians in Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan who are daily being killed with our war $$. We must speak for them. And secondly, we must speak for the teachers, social workers, city workers, and others being fired all over our state because local and state budgets are being impacted by war spending. So far Maine's share of war spending since 2001 is over $2.8 billion.

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