Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Election 2014: The Moment of Truth for the US Antiwar Movement?

Can we envision a circumstance in which members of Congress lose their seats because of their failures on issues of war and peace? (Not to mention their failures in the basic running of the government?)

If the crisis created by Barack Obama's threat to attack Syria has taught us anything, it is the urgency of having a Congress that controls the power to go to war, and absolute necessity that Congress refuses to go to war without the consent of the people.

I got a close-up of this as I observed the impact of constituent communications on members of the Illinois congressional delegation. It was a real wake-up call for me: there are members of Congress who understand that they represent their constituents, and members who don't.

2014 is a midterm election year. There will be an election for every seat in the House of Representatives. So again I ask: Can we envision a circumstance in which members of Congress lose their seats because of their failures on issues of war and peace?

As someone who has been working day after day to raise the issue of drone warfare, and has experienced frustration over how difficult it is to get the public to pay attention to the problem, I was startled by how engaged and effective the general public was over the threat of war against Syria. "We can make ourselves heard!" I realized.

Isn't now a moment when, instead of falling back into our existing habits of trying to change America's war-making ways, we should put our recent experience under a microscope? And ask what we can learn from this experience? Can we make 2014 the year that we sort the wheat from the chaff in Congress? And get the control over war and peace back into our own hands?

Related posts

There has been a good sign in 2013, in that many people have become outraged about government surveillance. A recent Pew poll found that Americans are now more worried about civil liberties abuses than terrorism. I believe a big question in 2014 will be whether challengers successfully address the issue of NSA surveillance in their campaigns.

(See What Will Election 2014 Boil Down To? )

One issue that has a key place in the midterm elections, I believe, is surveillance.  With each passing day, I am hearing more and more people say that the surveillance issue is something that a wide spectrum of people are deeply upset about. That includes people on the right as well as people on the left -- people who don't usually talk with each other, much less work together for positive change!

(See In Chicago, Illinois: YOU ARE UNDER SURVEILLANCE!)

People in Illinois made it clear they didn't want an attack on Syria.  Based on what I was able to detect, some representatives in Congress were listening, and some weren't:

Looks Strong -7
Question Mark - 4
Looks Weak - 3

In the past several weeks, the President of the United States tried to undertake an attack against a foreign country, but the American people said "Hell no!" and the Congress let the President know they couldn't support it. How often does that happen?

(See When THE PEOPLE Take Control: "Anything Can Happen")

How are we going to change the equation?