Why aren't we in the streets?

By Cindy M. of Portland, Oregon. Cindy describes herself as a stay-at-home mom and a former federal employee. [Editor's note: This guest column was submitted on Monday afternoon.]

On a day like today... when Bush commutes the sentence of Scooter Libby in a very clever move, which appears to not only keep him out of jail, but also appears to keep him from being called to testify before Congress because his appeals process is still ongoing... I am ready and willing to "go to the streets" to protest.

But I am stumped by the lack of a call to protest. I have become concerned over the past year, when so many times we Americans should have protested in the streets -- and didn't. It seems to me that the activists who once would have called for protests and/or organized them, are sitting in front of their computers blogging.

While spreading information via the internet is vitally important, we need the activists to come out from behind their computers and organize the protests. Our elected officials need to SEE the people to fully understand the degree of dissatisfaction with this administration. A visual image is very powerful.

The internet can be a key component in organizing and spreading the word about protests, but unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be happening. I am not a good organizer, or I would step forward, but I AM anxiously waiting to join others in protest. Where are they?

Am I missing something or are our activist organizers no longer interested in leading people in protests?

I would appreciate your insights.

  • MNeumann (unverified)

    I have an "IMPEACH" sign in my front yard with an American flag.

    I took my other IMPEACH sign down for awhile and one of my neigbhors, who I don't know, actually stopped to ask why it was down. So I put up this new one on the 4th of July. The neighbors like the signs. I wish they would put up their own signs. If every single one of us had a sign in our yards and on our cars...it would help sway the court of public opinion even further.

  • Little guy (unverified)

    What's the point? There are no mechanisms that allow for a population to oust a rogue lame-duck President who doesn't fear any consequences, so again...what's the point?

    You're seeing a populace that is slowly forgetting to care. Have faith though, the younger generations are going to be much smarter than we are.

  • (Show?)

    Protesting makes no iota of difference - it barely makes for a photo op in the news. Until news of a cat falling forty feet from a tree isn't a lead story, I'm not standing up to lead any protest.

  • (Show?)

    Most people are fed up with what's going on, but unwilling to do anything about it. I still believe something can be done in terms of the next election and believe now is the time to act to prevent Bush's buddies (the four stooges:John, Mitt, Rudy and Fred) from having a chance to be the next president.

    What upsets me is people like my mother who have lost any hope in terms of politics.

    In terms of the next 18 1/2 months, the best we can hope for is that Congress wises up and the Republican's who back this war get fed up. Politically their back is going to break if they don't switch sides. Putting pressure on Congress IS our best hope at this point. Yes, it's a low expectation, but the best possible one in terms of the worst and best case scenarios.

  • charlie (unverified)

    Protests have always struck me as a gigantic waste of time. Wanna change what we have? Great go volunteer on a campaign, or any of a slew of progressive political organizations. If you don't have time to donate, give money.

  • (Show?)

    One of the major differences between now and the 60's most people don't know anyone serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. The 150,000 troops serving in the Iraq War are trapped in shooting gallery so gruesome it's hard to imagine. Let's take a trip down Memory Lane.

    In the 60's everyone knew several people who got drafted into the Viet Nam War. Your college buddy, your brother, your neighbor, your husband, we all knew someone.

    Now days, high schoolers and drop outs are fodder for the different branches of service. Recruiting is heavy in urban areas and rural areas..forget about the burbs or the middle class joining up. The entrance standards for service have never been lower.

    The difference is when a car backfires on a street nobody flinches. Soldiers who'd served in Viet Nam would hit the ground on reflex. We saw the body bags, we attended funerals, we all knew someone who's sacrificed their life.

    It's hard to get people to take the streets when the detachment level to those who serve our country is so high.

  • (Show?)

    Although this is off-topic (sorry Kari), one way we can stand up and be heard is to get involved with the movement to clean up the enviroment. 7/7 is going to be a big day to make our voices heard on that issue.

    I'd appreciate it if someone would post a link to the page with the house parties going on Saturday.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    You're right, Karol, but what if we rigged it so the missing cat fell out of the tree DURING our "Impeach Bush" protest?

    Then our friends at the local Fox News affiliate, Channel 12, would have to cover it!

  • (Show?)

    Unfortunately I have to agree with Paulie. The vast majority of the protests in the 60's weren't against the war, but against the draft. Add to that the fact that we don't see the body bags and are rarely touched up close and personal...the war is just another reality television program for alot of folks. Notice that the most active and vocal protesters we have now are the families, friends and fellow servicepeople of the killed and wounded soldiers. I think this is one of the main reasons that a draft has not been called. They know that this one thing would be the absolute galvanizing issue that would bring not just thousands, but likely millions of citizens into the streets, or whatever, and the powers-that-be can't afford that.

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    Until the public sees the criminal acts of the Bush regime as having a direct harmful effect on them personally, as long as it's someone else's loved one who dies needlessly in a war, as long as "I'm not affected by something", then why put my body on the line in a protest action?? I think that's the character or lack of it in the present political culture. The draft and the impending threat of it, at least for those without wealth (i.e. Cheney and Bush) did have that affect of the immediacy of the need for action in the Vietnam era.

  • LiberalIncarnate (unverified)

    "People should not fear their government, Governments should fear their people." -V for Vedetta, among others... also quoted in Sicko.

    Why don't France, Britian and Canada wipe away social protections? Because the government fears its people. That's why.

    Protest DOES work, despite what some may think. But in order for it to truly take hold, we need a cultural shift. Rather than sweep it off to have "the next generation" handle it, why don't we start showing the way? The problem is, Americans want everything NOW. They protest and want instant action. There is no follow through, few continued actions. It doesn't take much to dishearten most Americans. Go shopping! Isn't that how we self-medicate our troubles away?

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    Am I missing something or are our activist organizers no longer interested in leading people in protests?

    Well when a protest is organized and a piddly 6-7,000 people show up when there should be 50,000, it get a little discouraging. You want to hit the streets? Here's an opportunity.

    Rally Against the War with Conscientious Objector Just Released from Military prison

    What: Rally Against the War featuring Iraq Veteran Against the War and Conscientious Objector Agustín Aguayo

    When: Monday July 9th 4:00 pm

    Where: Holladay Park NE 11th and Holladay. We will then march to the Broadway Recruitment Center.

    Portland , OR (July 2, 2007): In the context of increasing troop resistance to the war both on the ground in Iraq and on military bases at home, as well as growing public discontent with the Bush administration's handling of the war, it is a vital time for returning vets to share their experiences. As the death toll for both American troops and Iraq civilians climbs, and each month is labeled the "deadliest" since the March 2003 invasion, returning vets have an increasingly important perspective to give on the urgency of changing policy in Iraq.

    Agustin Aguayo, a U.S. Army medic, refused to load his weapon on his first tour in Iraq. He- applied for conscientious objector status to demonstrate his opposition not only to the illegal and immoral war in Iraq, but to all wars. The military rejected his application and court-martialed him. Aguayo was sentenced him to eight months in military prison and was finally released on April 18th. While he was in prison his wife Helga Aguayo led a grassroots campaign to raise awareness about military resistance and raise money to cover legal fees. On Monday, July 9th, the PDX Peace Coalition will join Agustín Aguayo for a rally against the war. At 4:00 pm, we will convene at Holladay Park to hear Aguayo, Helga, and others will speak. We will then march to the Broadway Recruitment Station to protest the military recruitment of our young men and women for this unjust war.

    While he is in Portland, Agustín will be meeting with the Latino Immgrant community in Woodburn on Tuesday July 10 th. On Wednesday July 11th he will be speaking as part of a panel of Iraq Veterans Against the War at the Multicultural Center at Portland State University (1825 SW Broadway).

    Cosponsors include: PDX Peace Coalition, Veterans for Peace Ch. 72, the America Friends Service Committee, CAUSA- Oregon Coalition for Immigrant Rights, the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee, Voz Workers' Rights Education Project, Micah's Village, People of Faith for Peace, International Socialist Organization, Education Without Borders, the Workers International League, the Military and Draft Counseling Project, Whitefeather Peace Community, Students United fro Nonviolence, Recruiterwatch PDX PDX Peace Coalition

    You can find me easily enough, just look for the pocket Constitution.

  • (Show?)

    You're right, Karol, but what if we rigged it so the missing cat fell out of the tree DURING our "Impeach Bush" protest? Then our friends at the local Fox News affiliate, Channel 12, would have to cover it!

    "Breaking News! Democrats gathered in Portland today to protest the Bush Administration's War in Iraq... How? By throwing cats out of trees. Animal rights activists were sympathetic to the larger cause, but expressed outrage at the treatment of the Feline-Americans. Live at 11!"

  • (Show?)

    I think the political establishment clearly understands the level of dissatisfaction with the Administration. That's why the immigration bill failed, why Social Security reform went nowhere, and why, in all likelihood, an agreement will be brokered to get us out of Iraq once the government there fails to meet the September deadlines.

    Street protests over Scooter Libby? I think we need to step back and get a bit of perspective.

    Much as we may not want to admit it, I just don't see any indication of the levels of social discontent that would cause major street protests.

    Bad as they may be right now, they are simply not as bad for anywhere near as many people as they were in the 1960s.

    Casualties: in Vietnam, 47,000 killed in action and 300,000 wounded.

    Civil rights: Jim Crow was alive and kicking throughout the South. We had racial conflicts and riots in most of our major cities.

    Assassinations: Need I write anything?

  • Unrepentant Liberal (unverified)

    Let's see, last time we had big protests was back in the 60's over civil rights and during the early 70's over the Vietnam War. The huge demographic bulge called the 'baby boom' generation was at that time idealistic and actually threatened by Selective Service aka 'the draft'. The actual real possibility of going about your life one day and then getting your 'draft notice' the next was a real motivating force in getting your ass off the couch that is lacking in today's situation.

    Maybe it's just me, but large street protests seem, sorta, of that time, it's like generals fighting the last war and that perhaps something different is needed to fight today's fight against tyranny. In fact using blogs as a tool for spreading ideas harkens back to the pre-revolution publications produced by the terrorists who came to be known as, 'Our Founding Fathers.'

    Although, I think we'll be more effective working within the political system, my heart would still soar at the sight of tens of thousands of protesters peacefully filling the streets in opposition to this government and the war. I hope for both.

  • anonymous (unverified)

    I've got news for people, the political system is so deaf to the concerns of all but society's "political donor class" elite that they don't care what you say. Nancy Pelosi basically said impeachment is off the table no matter what. She knows who's buttering her toast and it ain't the majority of Americans calling for impeachment. There are some Dems doing some good work in DC--Leahy, Kucinich, Conyers--but most are just playing the game. Aside from Wyden, I'm about damned sick of Oregon's crop of Dems. Wu, DeFazio, Blumenaur, etc, have all adopted the Pelosi doctine like the good little sock puppets they are. Maybe you "work the political system" folk haven't got one of their form letters that is written to the IQ level of the average Jerry Springer audience member when you try to contact them with your concerns.

  • Coyote (unverified)

    I participated in my fair share of street protests in my young, dumb, and liberal days, but even then I came to the realization that, with a few exceptions (e.g., union pickets), street protests are pretty much useless, masturbatory symbolism. They rarely set or achieve any tangible objectives.

    I agree with Charlie. Volunteering is far more useful than street protests. I'd also add tax resistance and a responsible lifestyle. Not to mention refusing to vote for certain politicians with D's after their name who aided and abetted Bush and Cheney's Excellent Adventure. I won't mention any names (cough...Clinton, Edwards, Biden, Dodds, Kerry, Schumer, Reid...cough), but I'm sure y'all can figure it out for yourselves.

    Anonymous, I agree with most of what you said. The Big Dems know who pays the bills, and it ain't the people holding signs in the streets. But lay off my boy DeFazio! I think he's the only Dem I have any respect for. Ron Paul/DeFazio in 2008!

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    I think you all are taking the question too literally. The question was, "why don't you act like you're outraged?"

    Because they're not. Pretty much everyone in this society is engaged in some kind of accepted fraud to support their personal debt, or is made to feel a criminal by being on the wrong side of hundreds of stupid statutory crimes.

    Bottom line, if you perceive that you live in a cesspool, you don't get outraged when the occasional douche bag floats by.

  • Rebel Dog (unverified)

    On the subject of what gets news coverage, a story last week shows just how banal the system is.

    I saw ZERO local coverage of the Trader Joe's onion recall. Listeria scare. The story was put on the wire by AP on June 22. ABC's LA affiliate picked it up, I'm guessing because "Monrovia" is a term they use to search the news feed for local stories.

    The story mentioned Portland, OR, by name. The next day the ABC affiliate in Portland, Maine, carried the story. I'm guessing that they search the feed for "Portland", and Fox in Beaverton never saw Maine's broadcast because they use "Portland -Maine" to search, though that doesn't explain why they missed the LA story. Gives a peek at the level of banality involved. I'm convinced that more than half the reason we get saturation coverage of every abducted Mormon child is because of the level of pre-prepared materials which the Church makes available to parents that then flood the local news outlets with preproduced content.

    The only original content on the news last week was Paris Hilton. Makes sense that having gutted their ability to research anything, anything original has to be vacuous, purely images.

    So the strategy would be to produce some blatantly pandering, chamber of commerce, gung-ho business financed video that says, "by the way, we're nasty killers in Iraq".

    "When the going gets wierd, the wierd turn pro".

  • anonymous (unverified)

    Coyote - I was a DeFazio man for many years until I wrote him about my concerns with media consolidation, government propaganda, non-enforcement of anti-trust laws, the influence of organizations like the CFR, the North American Union, etc. I got the same dumb chainmail bs I get from everybody else. I've also heard him on Thom Hartmann's show talking about how impeachment is a waste of time when they could be increasing minimum wage (at a rate that won't make any impact on poverty). It's like, Yo Pete, do you remember your oath of office or what??? Shame on DeFazio. Look for him on Bastille Day.

    As for the level of apathy I would like to direct everybody to a FREE book by a Reagan Admin whistleblower that is very well referenced and will be a big eye-opener for anybody who has the time to read: http://deliberatedumbingdown.com/

    Zarathustra - Wasn't it in your namesake work in which Neitzche said (paraphrasing) that the risk to any republic is the risk that the great leaders of moral character who are needed won't appear at the proper time in history. Well...? If they do appear they get Wellstoned.

  • MNeumann (unverified)

    Thom Hartmann has said that many people don't protest because they can't - they can't afford the time off work, they don't have child care, etc.

    I don't agree that protest isn't worth it. Signs and bumper stickers - these are a form of protest I engage in every day. When I see another car driving by with bumper sticker that says "IMPEACH" or "REAL PATRIOTS PROTECT THE CONSTITUTION", I am re-inspired. That's one small way we are building our community of activists for 2008, and how we are taking our message around Fox News and straight to our neighbors and community members.

  • (Show?)

    If you don't have time to donate, give money.

    "And I'll send all the money You ask for But don't ask me to come on along So love me, love me, love me I'm a liberal" (Phil Ochs, 60's folk singer)

    Sorry...couldn't resist. And, hey, I consider myself a liberal. But I also didn't go to the last anti-war rally.

    Anyway, it's baloney to say there were more protests against the draft than the war. The biggest protests against the war were after the draft was reduced to a lottery. The bigger problem is we don't really see this war. No body bags every night on the news, no pictures of a Vietnamese child running naked, burning from napalm (that photographer is now busy clicking away at Paris Hilton. With a thousand others.)

    The media --and with it the American people's ability to focus on what's happening-- has been compromised and gutted. We don't know --and, really, I think, don't care to know-- how many Iraqis are dying every day. Like the slowdowns on the Sunset highway at the Sylvan overpass, the daily death toll --on OPB as we head out for work-- is predictable and hardly news. We no longer get to see the pictures of the shattered bodies of our own brave troops the way a free press once brought us those images, images of the horror of war forced into our homes every night. And in our daily papers in the morning. And, yes, there were many many more of them than there are today. And that's not a bad thing.

    I remember a 70's march in DC when the Nixon White House had surrounded itself --literally-- with buses. It wasn't about having Dick Nixon hear us, it was about our fellow citizens understanding the degree of dissent, and the numbers were important. We got press coverage because it was news, and there were reporters --not stenographers-- paying attention. 13,000 arrested in one day...and who even remembers about that level of civil disobedience? Or, really, a government grown so crazy it was sweeping people off the streets wholesale into RFK Stadium (and with no sense of irony at that.)

    I don't know what the answer is. But going through the motions just to go through the motions really feels a waste of time. And where's the loyal opposition in government we can turn to, the way we turned to a Eugene McCarthy, or a Bobby Kennedy? How easy to forget Humphrey's --and the Democratic Party's-- support of the war. Nancy Pelosi's OK...but is she the one to drive a stake through the heart of this war, and end it once and for all? Where's the passion to do that?

    Five years from now, long after the war's demise (or so's my hope) we'll "hunt for answers" as to why we weren't told, why we didn't know, what a disaster it was. How did this happen on our watch? This may call for Congressional hearings!

    But the answer is, fundamentally, because we let this happen on our watch. And we lack the tools to stop it. And while I still have that John Kerry poster in my window because, y'know, that guy in the White House is not my president, it's a pathetically vain effort to divorce myself from this whole madness. But it helps me sleep at night. That and the checks I send along.

  • Nina (unverified)

    I was and am outraged over Bush's decision to let Libby off the hook. MoveOn circulated a petition, demanding congress stop these on-going crimes by George Bush and Co, which I signed. There are so many flipping things to be outraged about--things I've blogged about, written my reps about and yet what has it done? I'm WORN OUT from being so angry, worn out from the distress. "Fighting Apathy" could very easily be a movie that represents millions of us in this country at this very moment.

    As the anonymous poster said, our political leaders by and large don't give a squat about you and I. Having spoken in depth with a former state representative about how things really are on the inside and how you and I are viewed by our elected officials, I grew a new awareness of how broken and corrupt our system of government is.

    That being said, change is ALWAYS POSSIBLE. Change in the way WE want. Sure, we can march in the streets, or even march in DC and demand change, demand impeachment, demand an end to the war, an end to poverty, whatever your passion is. Then what? Without a clearly defined agenda of what We The People want and without a plan of how to achieve our agenda, protesting will only go so far.

    Then there's the little factor so many forget: we work longer hours today. We are more stressed out, fatigued, more in debt than ever before seen in these modern ages. This takes a toll and makes one less likely to truly get involved in the way that is needed to enact true change. Even though many love to toss out insulting accusations such as "blind sheep" who spend their time watching reality tv and getting the latest techno gadget at the mall, I can understand this behavior. Sometimes it seems as though these are our only reprieves from the chaos that has continued to erupt through this country, this planet.

    Set a collective agenda. Organize. And take action to carry out the agenda. That is the next step in the game from how I see it.

  • (Show?)

    You know, I think it's so funny that every time you bring up Bush commuting Libby's sentence, the conservatives like to bring up Marc Rich, who had been convicted of tax evasion and illegal trade with Iran. Shortly before leaving office, President Clinton pardoned Rich.

    Who was Rich's lawyer? Scooter Libby.

    In a Congressional hearing to review Clinton's pardons, Libby testified that he thought the prosecution's case against Rich "misconstrued the facts and the law".

  • JLI (unverified)

    You know why people aren't "outraged" about the war?

    In it's 4th year, we've lost a total of 3591 soldiers, compared to over 58,000 in Vietnam. Its not even close. Vietnam cost us about 12%-15% GDP per year. The Iraq war costs between 1%-2%.

    Say what you will about Bush commuting the sentence for Libby, but at least Bush issues pardons and commutations based on his personal evaluation of the situation, and not political donations like some former presidents. You don't see Neil or Jeb offering pardons for commission do you?

  • MNeumann (unverified)

    Is it true that some people really believe that a Fox-News-Rush-Limbaugh talking point about Clinton really "cancels out", erases or justifies all the crimes of Bush and his Administration? 100,000+ dead innocent Iraqi citizens! Well that's OK! Rush told me to say Obscure Talking Point #122 and all the dead go away like magic! So I assume we can use the Bush standard to erase any criticism that any conservative will try to make about the next Democratic President? I mean, it will work both ways , right?

  • (Show?)

    There's an anti-war protest in Sandy tonight (and every Friday night) at the West end of town on the north side of Hwy 26.

    I've worked hard to suppress this lefty impulse during the past two election cycles, and had some success with urging other types of involvement like walking for candidates, etcetera.

    Following the election we got a new district leader (Susan Gates, who posted here a few weeks back) that really started focusing on protests as an organizing and "keep 'em warm" kinda strategy.

    The results?

    A rotating group of high school kids started coming out every week. Their parents started dropping by to chat with and briefly join the effort. New people are getting interested in the Democratic effort in Sandy.

    I still think that there was some felicitous timing involved, but my hat's off to Susan for her correct assessment of the changing zeitgeist and for jumping on an opportunity that is producing tangible results for the local Dems........

  • raul (unverified)

    Who says people aren't outraged about the war? My neighbor has just returned from Afghanistan- he had a two year tour- and is trying to reacquaint himself with his wife and kids. He and all of his Kool Aid drinking buddies are now on the wagon, and wondering why they fought and what has happened to their country.

    What happens to a dream deferred?

    Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore-- And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over-- like a syrupy sweet?

    Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.

    Or does it explode? - Langston Hughes

    The real digging hasn't even begun, but Americans know the sins that are taking place. I spend a lot of time outside of the liberal bubble, and everybody is ticked off.

    Marching in the streets and voting are now viewed as ineffective- and that appears to me to be more dangerous than anything. There is no recognized safety valve such as a protest to make folks feel as if they are doing something. This may appear to be apathy, but I see it as something more ominous. I think we are at the " sag like a heavy load " phase.

  • (Show?)

    "In it's 4th year, we've lost a total of 3591 soldiers, compared to over 58,000 in Vietnam. Its not even close. Vietnam cost us about 12%-15% GDP per year. The Iraq war costs between 1%-2%."

    Smaller numbers may create less outrage, but the truth is that field medicine is so much better now than it was then, that the equivalent number of dead in the 60s would have been a multiple of that 3,591. And of course we lost over half of those 58,000 after Nixon was elected.

  • Dave3544 (unverified)

    I can tell you that even though I'm frustrated to tears by this administration, I still don't get out and hit the streets for protesting/demonstrating/marching on all that regular of a basis. Why? Because here in Eugene these protests are still dominated by who think it is 1969 and if we sing "Give Peace a Chance" just one more time, then maybe someone will indeed give peace a chance. Except of course, they don't believe that, they just don't know what else to do; they've been doing these things the same way for 40 years now and no thought seems to be given to changing anything. The very fact that a simple question about street protest has led to a discussion of Vietnam and the 1960s demonstrates what I mean.

    I am from the generation commonly called Generation X; without getting too much into the supposed characteristics of my generation, I can tell you we are very tired of the baby boomers and their seeming inability to realize that the 1960s are over. Not everyone of course--hell, they are the generation that gave us Reagan and the Republican Revolution--but certainly those that plan our rallies. Should we march from the fairgrounds to the courthouse? Yes we should! Should we stop on the way and sing "We Shall Overcome?" Of course! Should we have homemade signs? Should we invite some folk singers to sing for everyone? Should we have a drum circle? Yes, yes, and sweet Jesus, yes!

    Needless to say, I can only take these things every couple of years.

    But my friends and I have been protesting this administration. How? Blogging to be sure, talking with each other, with other friends, family, and co-workers. We knocked on doors for Dems who we can support. Some of us belong to labor organizations and push those groups to be more vocal in opposition. Some belong to the Socialist party and work to oppose the war through them. We give money to candidates we support. We put our homemade signs in our lawns, windows and cars.

    Maybe one day we'll hit the streets again, but not to sing '60s protest songs. We must think of another way to show our disgust.

  • (Show?)

    Mina brings up a good point, that is the fatigue factor in terms of people being outraged. Sooner or later most people (not all) get so fed up they don't care. I'm not saying it's right, just elaborating on her point. That may be why, as BOHICA pointed out you only see 5-7,000 people protesting instead of 50-70,000.

    One of the questions would be, how do you get people to get involved again dispite their outrage fatigue?

  • spicey (unverified)

    just wanted to say thanks for posting this. I think you're absolutely right. I'm going to make it a point to do more active and out protest rather than just stick to the keyboard. Thanks

  • Susan Gates (unverified)

    I appreciate Pat's comments on the weekly vigil our group, the Oregon Trail Democrats (www.oregontraildemocrats.org) has been doing in Sandy for almost six months. But, we are not alone. Just in Clackamas County there are vigils in Wilsonville and Estacada that have been going on longer than ours.

    And, as someone who has participated in protests (and sat out more), I understand the comments made about them being a waste of time. But I have to put in my two cents about why, at least in our case, it is just not so!

    Our vigils have brought in more new people to the process, including many young kids from Sandy High. And, since our group meets monthly and is ongoing in its work at the REALLY IMPORTANT STUFF, like phone banking, fundraising, block walking and precinct organizing, adding these new activists is certainly WORTH our effort.

    We have had people stop and just want to shake our hands, some stop to thank us, one gave a gift certificate for pizza, and one brought fresh donuts. We made the front page of the local Sandy Post Newspaper. Some people stop and take our flyers to share with others, and most recently we made YouTube and PortlandIndy Media with a video done by someone who uses the name "Joe Anybody". These are cool and the kids love them. Check us out at: http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2007/06/361469.shtml http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUa4oIw17qU

    The links are also on our web site.

    Bottom line, by being out there every week some new people said they found us by googling "peace vigil Sandy" and we are the first hit with our web site. You just never know.

    So, contrary to what some have said, getting "out there" is very important. Will it change things immediately? No. But, the crucial thing is the doing. Protest, write letters, blog, organize, get involved and DO SOMETHING! And by way, JUST griping (and I do plenty of that too) is not doing. Susan Gates Chair - Oregon Trail Democrats

  • Troix (unverified)

    Say what you will about Bush commuting the sentence for Libby, but at least Bush issues pardons and commutations based on his personal evaluation of the situation, and not political donations like some former presidents.

    Rich should never have been pardoned, but if you think that was worse than obstruction of justice (which is exactly what Bush's commutation-soon-to-be-pardon is), you, sir, are nuts.

    When I think of protesting I keep remembering the February 2003 Iraq War protests and how the world's largest single day protest was virtually ignored by the MSM (even though huge numbers showed up in major cities around the world). It was disheartening, to say the least. Until the fourth estate is decorporatized, protesting will be ignored (unless, of course, a few idiots decide to get violent-- then it'll be the lead story.)

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    The problem has many dimensions. We don't have a real tradition in this country of real opposition to our government. I've lived in European countries where the country can be shut down with a national strike. There is solidarity around issues of class and peace and war. They also stick to the issue at hand. Here someone calls a protest action on the war and everyone else wants to hitch their wagon to it, (exhibit A above). This simply diffuses the energy around the main issue. Okay, so I show up and raise my voice against the Iraq war, but then there's a potpourri of issues and advocates all over the map on immigration, GLBT rights, socialist worker parties for world government, etc. etc.... issues that hardly anyone wants to sign up to.

  • flowerbells (unverified)

    I agree with Nina's comment. One of the huge problems that the Left has is lack of direction and lack of unity.

    To see how another country handled this, I recommend that people view Bringing Down a Dictator about the peaceful removal of Slobodan Milocevic, "The Butcher of the Balkans" -- remember him? -- in Yugoslavia. He was in our headlines day after day for weeks, but so many have forgotten!

    There were probably at least a dozen political parties there, and the student movement Otpor! whose sole purpose was non-violent removal of Milocevic, convinced these parties' candidates to UNITE behind ONE presidential candidate -- which they reluctantly DID DO.

    During the election, Otpor! (which by this time had become "we the people of Yugoslavia") monitored every voting station outside Belgrade, and kept careful paper records of the vote counts, so that Milocevic's expected election fraud would be proven null and void.

    Check out Bringing Down a Dictator (60 minutes long, historic footage) from your public library, or purchase it here:


    And by the way -- guess who trained the student movement in non-violent strategies? The US Army! The Army showed them how to use the same tactics used in war, only use them for non-violent efforts, rather than violent ones. All this is shown in historic footage.

    This film can't be beat for a "workbook" on how to organize and bring people together.

    There are other films in the series, too:

    http://www.aforcemorepowerful.org/films/afmp/index.php (6 flicks, historic footage, each 30 minutes in length.)

    And incidentally, what is surprising to me is the RELUCTANCE of Left leaders to spend 30 or 60 minutes viewing one of these films. There has been nothing but apathy and resistance from every Left leader I've spoken with or corresponded with. Amazing.


  • spicey (unverified)

    this post from Daily Kos seems relevant here. Sign the pledge! Take Action!


    Have You Signed up for the Iraq Moratorium?

    by MissLaura

    Thu Jul 12, 2007 at 10:31:27 AM PDT

    I hereby make a commitment that on Friday September 21 & the Third Friday of every subsequent month, I will break my daily routine and take some action, by myself or with others, to end the War in Iraq.

    Have you signed the Iraq Moratorium pledge?


    The concept is simple. On September 21 and on every subsequent Third Friday, millions of Americans will break with their daily routine to take some concrete step to demand an end to the war and the return home of the troops. This will be an escalating series of actions serving to maximize, multiply and reenergize existing activists and even more importantly give voice to the silent majority of people who want an end to our engagement in Iraq

    more at the link above...

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