Sunday, August 21, 2011

What would Cindy Sheehan do?

I had the opportunity to meet Cindy Sheehan yesterday. A local branch of the Veterans for Peace is about to embark on a tour, and Sheehan is "on the bus". There was a small gathering of people, getting together before the sendoff of the tour. 

What was interesting to me is that Sheehan is a kind of an "everyman", accessible citizen. I view her as an icon & visionary, someone who is driven by conscience, and compelled to be a voice of reason in a "war mad mentality" country. I felt like I wanted to press her for some kind of  futurecast-- Where do we go from here? What has happened to the peace movement? How do we clean up this mess our country is in?
I have been feeling very much so disenfranchised. The "system" as it exists is broken. Broken in a way that feels unfixable, more shattered than chipped. 
The Peace movement seems to have fizzled. Even a few local groups (Peaceworks) have closed up shop, not enough support to keep it afloat, and other surviving groups are seriously struggling. It's hard to get all fired up when we see that these wars have been going on for  a decade now. 
I've protested, written letters, pressed my (alleged) congressional representative, send comments to the White House, supported others who chose to be arrested doing Civil (dis) Obedience. To me, it feels now like none of it mattered. 
10,000 people can gather in D.C. marching in the streets for Peace & Justice & it falls on deaf ears. 
Sadly, I feel like I can't even keep track of all the wars this country is involved in. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan (yes, people, dropping bombs w drones is an act of aggression), Yeomen, & Syria. 
I am left feeling like we are witnessing the GOP & Tea Party are riding roughshod over basic rights, and the transition to corporatocracy is in full swing. They have us right where they want us. The economy is depressed enough to have people reciting the mantra "you are lucky to have a job", and the implied second part of that theme is that you have no rights or voice in this climate. Employers take full advantage, because it is very true, that if you won't do as they say, and go along with their program, there are literally hundreds of people in line, hungry for work, who will acquiesce in order to join the ranks of the working poor. Corporations can even break the laws or skirt the edge, re hours and workers tights, but in the end we know they hold the cards. Most employment is "at will", so they don't even need a reason to fire you. "Change in business needs" will suffice. They've got us- they know it & we know it. 
So we seem locked into this trajectory- the working poor run faster & faster on the hamster wheel, while the government scoops the lions share of money into wars. Then, somehow they keep a straight face telling us the solution to this financial mess is to have the people work till they are dead. To cut & slash entitlement programs- that WE have paid into all our working lives. The GOP promises to abolish minimum wage, and get rid of those pesky environmental laws, preventing job creators from magically making things all better. 
We've been in that petrie dish experiment for 10 years of tax cuts for the wealthy & clearly, that is not working. 

What happened to the antiwar movement? Cindy Sheehan hits 'hypocrisy' of Left, Democratic allies.

After my column, "For the left, war without Bush is not war at all," appeared Tuesday, I got a note from Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war activist who was the subject of so much press coverage when she led a protest against the Iraq war outside then-President George W. Bush's ranch in Texas.  This is what the note said:

I read your column about the "anti-war" movement and I can't believe I am saying this, but I mostly agree with you.
The "anti-war" "left" was used by the Democratic Party. I like to call it the "anti-Republican War" movement.
While I agree with you about the hypocrisy of such sites as the DailyKos, I have known for a long time that the Democrats are equally responsible with the Republicans. That's why I left the party in May 2007 and that's why I ran for Congress against Nancy Pelosi in 2008.
I have my own radio show, "Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox," and I was out on a four-month book tour promoting the fact that it's not about Democrats or Republicans, but it's about the system.
Even if I am surrounded by a thousand, or no one, I am still working for peace.
Cindy Sheehan
After receiving the email, I asked Sheehan to give me a call, so I could verify that the note in fact came from her.  She did, and we discussed her plans to protest next week in Martha's Vineyard, where President Obama will be vacationing.  "I think people are starting to wake up to the fact that even if they supported Obama, he doesn't represent much change," Sheehan said.  "There are people still out here who oppose the war and Obama's policies, but it seems like the big organizations with the big lists aren't here."
I asked Sheehan about the fact that the press seems to have lost interest in her and her cause.  "It's strange to me that you mention it," she said.  "I haven't stopped working.  I've been protesting every time I can, and it's not covered.  But the one time I did get a lot of coverage was when I protested in front of George Bush's house in Dallas in June.  I don't know what to make of it.  Is the press having a honeymoon with Obama?  I know the Left is."
After the protests in Massachusetts -- Sheehan told me she has no idea how many people might show up -- Sheehan will be in Washington October 5, for a protest at the White House to mark the eight anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan.  Not only is the president escalating the war there, she said, but he's not withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq as quickly as he originally promised. "That's why I was opposed to him," she said.

So where do we go from here?


Christopher said...

I figured our dire financially picture would naturally lead to an end of U.S. imperialism around the world.

Boy, was I wrong.

It's clear, the Nitwit in the White House is no different from George W. Bush. Since Obama was elected, the number of overt and covert wars in the world have reached 120 countries or, fully have the planet.



Obama isn't a Dove; he's a Hawk and in my view, dangerous.

I now think, and I believe, the only way to stop this insanity is to bring back the military draft.

Spread the harm and death around equally among the poor, middle class and the wealthy.

Then, and only then, a flame will be lit under the asses of the youth and protests, a la, 1972, which led to the end of Viet Nam, will begin and U.S. imperialism will start to shrink.

D.K. Raed said...

I, too, feel increasingly disenfranchised.

No idea where to go from here ... "clowns to the left, jokers to the right".

But I applaud Cindy Sheehan for keeping up the good fight. Wish she had done better in her bid for congress. Need more people like her. How awesome to meet her!

Fran said...

Christopher~ You would like this article by Sheehan. She questions why we put up with this extended war garbage from Obama with a dose of snark.

DK ~ She ran against Pelosi in the San Fran area & got 50,000 votes. Not too shabby, but she said she's not interested in running again.

We talked too about how most of us feel locked into the 2 party system. How Obama was bought & sold, and how in his lack of experience, one of his huge mistakes was to keep so many of Bush's men on in his administration. You keep the same war hawks around & you will get the same results.

The whole thing feels like a perfect storm... on one side they are totally selling the average citizen down the river... on the other hand different versions of the same corruption.

Although strikes are very effective in places like Greece, I don;t see that kind of cohesion in this big old spread out country-- one that has been oppressed/depressed enough, some desperate person will cross a picket line if nothing but just to try to survive.
Besides, it seems like this country does not make anything that no one else can't make anywhere else & cheaper- in both price and labor.

Everything seems to have splintered and spun out of functionality.