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Infiltrating Congress


By davidswanson - Posted on 30 December 2011

I cannot stress sufficiently that we will best move Congress toward peace and justice by keeping it at arm's length and pressuring it without self-censorship, compromise, or entanglement with one or the other of its two branches: the Democratic or Republican. We are engaged in a long-term campaign to undo a plutocratic war state. Moving that campaign forward in the general culture is more important than which criminal enterprise has a majority of seats: the Democratic or Republican.

But it will be advantageous to us to have as many individuals with some nerve and a core of human decency occupying seats in Congress — perhaps as many as three or four of them if we are lucky. While only a mass movement will move the mass of corporate shills on Capitol Hill, it cannot hurt to have a few people there who are seriously on our side, people who understand where we are coming from without being taught, people who can communicate in front of a camera, people who are willing to step out alone and lead, and people capable of organizing others to join them.

Most elections pair up lesser and greater evils, and sometimes it's hard to tell which is which. But some handful of elections, especially primaries, include actually good candidates. I understand the presidential obsession. We've given presidents royal powers, so it matters that we show resistance to each would-be king by backing someone who would conceivably give those powers back, such as Rocky Anderson or Jill Stein. And I understand local action. But most localities don't offer anything, and most general elections have already been decided by the gerrymanderers. If you must focus on elections, why not look to the few places that could make a real difference?

The best voice the peace movement has had in elected Washington in recent years has been Congressman Dennis Kucinich. He's pushed the rest of the House of Misrepresentatives to places it had no desire to go. If we lose his voice in Washington, we will be taking a serious step backward. The point is not that we need elected officials to tell us what we want. The point is that only the very rarest of elected officials ever listen to what we want. Kucinich is one of them. The Ohio legislature has combined Kucinich's district with Rep. Marcy Kaptur's. These two Democratic incumbents will compete in one primary. That Kaptur is not the worst member of Congress we've ever seen, that she has in fact been remarkably good on occasion, does not alter the pressing need to keep a voice for peace in official Washington. (Full disclosure: I worked for Kucinich in 2004 and briefly in 2008.) Go here: http://kucinich.us

We have the possibility of putting another extremely powerful voice for peace into our government this year in the form of Norman Solomon. Solomon is the author of a dozen books on media, political discourse, and public policy, including "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death," which he also made into a film. From 1997 to 2010, Solomon was the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He was one of the few strong voices on national television against invading Iraq before the start of the Iraq War in early 2003, appearing on CNN and other major TV networks more than a dozen times to argue for diplomacy instead of a U.S. attack. Solomon organized and went on three missions to Baghdad prior to the invasion of Iraq — including one led by Congressman Nick Rahall and former U.S. Senator James Abourezk — seeking alternatives to war. Solomon is one of us and would speak to us from within our government — as an infiltrator, as it were. He needs to win his primary! (Full disclosure: I work for an organization that Solomon was involved in starting at http://rootsaction.org .) Go here: http://solomonforcongress.com

We have the possibility as well of returning to Congress another uncompromising voice against war with the power to shift the corporate-approved public discourse in a wiser direction. Alan Grayson's was a principled and fearless voice during his brief tenure in Washington, and we ought to bring him back: http://congressmanwithguts.com

Of course, I'm counting on Rep. Barbara Lee to remain in office. And there are young newcomers with the potential to become allies of the people in the halls of power. It would be crazy to predict such a thing, but it is possible. One of these potential leaders is Ilya Sheyman: http://ilyasheyman.com

The clearest congressional voice for peace at the moment, of course, is the voice of someone with a vision of domestic policy that many of us find dangerous if not delusional. Republican Congressman Ron Paul's voice against wars, empire, militarism, and abuse of power is helpful to those causes. Any success he has in the presidential primaries that is credited to his foreign policy positions will be all to the good. In the absence of progressives with backbones, more Libertarians like Paul would be welcome additions, I think. Go here: http://ronpaul2012.com and here: http://ronpaulforcongress.com

That's all I have to say about this election. I now return you to whatever dumbest thing Newt Gingrich said today.

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Great article.  It's interesting to me that on those few occasions that Ron Paul and, from across the political spectrum, Dennis Kucinich, agree on an issue, that's a position I'll actively support.  Whether conservative or liberal, truly principled politicians will oppose undeclared, offensive wars and erosion of first amendment rights.  Those should be near the top of any American's list of national political priorities.

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