Thursday, December 26, 2013

DRONES: Let's Give Obama a Political Choice He Can Understand in 2014

Now's the time of year for New Year's resolutions.

Let no one doubt that Barack Obama has one resolution for 2014 and that is to win back control of the House of Representatives.

As the nationwide -- and, increasingly, global -- movement to ground the drones looks ahead to 2014, what will its New Year's resolution be?

I suggest that if we want to be heard on this issue, we need to be where Obama and his crew are paying daily attention: the highly-contested races in the 2014 midterms.

U.S. House battleground districts, 2014 Source: Ballotpedia
Let's face it: when it comes to the vast majority of House seats, the people in the Executive Branch are just as jaded as people in the antiwar movement.  They know those are no-contest seats.  But where they do spend time and energy is in the small number of districts where they can hope to influence the outcome. They are extremely anxious that nothing happen in those districts to spoil whatever chances they have with the tiny sliver of swing voters who will determine the outcome.

For someone like me who lives in Chicago, it's always tempting to try to communicate with members of Congress like Mike Quigley, Luis Gutierrez, and Jan Schakowsky. ( "Mike! You're a good liberal - can't you see the need to stop these criminal drone attacks?" ) But since Mike and Luis and Jan have very little doubt that they'll be elected in November, it's hard to phase them. I'm beginning to think my time would be better spent where it's possible to have an impact.  So now I'm asking myself, "What do I need to do to make drones an issue in the Illinois 12th District?"

Because one thing's for sure: there's a whole passel of advisers talking to Barack Obama every day about how things are progressing in key districts like the Illinois 12th. (And the Michigan 1st. And the Minnesota 8th. And ... ) I'd like to be a fly on the wall when they tell him the candidate is complaining about the latest anti-drones campaign there. ("Why the hell are there protesters at my appearance in Carbondale with signs that say, 'When will the DEMs stop being the party of Drone Execution and Murder' ???")

I don't know, today, if people in the Illinois 12th District even know what a drone is. The 12th is all the way down in the southern tip of the state, and I doubt people there have heard about our campaigns against drones up here in Chicago.  But one thing's for sure.  I'm going to make it my business to make sure people there find out -- and soon!

Related posts

Five big realizations I'm taking away from the 2013 CODEPINK Drone Summit "Drones Around the Globe: Proliferation and Resistance" in Washington, DC.

(See The 2013 DC Drones Conference: 5 Big Takeaways )

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 in 2014, 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 The Surveillance Issue: The Fulcrum of the 2014 Election?)