Monday, January 7, 2019

One Thing: the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

Lake Superior and the mainland of Wisconsin,
viewed from the south side of Madeline Island.

It is 2019 and I have come to live on Madeline Island.

My hope is that I will be able to use my time here to make progress on the problem that has come to seem to me more urgent than any other: the elimination of nuclear weapons.

It is so easy to be distracted, and, heaven knows, one would like to think about anything else . . . .

But there is less excuse for getting distracted in Madeline Island. Maybe I can make a little progress every day.

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I am heartened by one fact: during the 115th Congress (2017-2018) a bill to restrict the US president's ability to use nuclear weapons obtained the support of 82 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 13 co-sponsors in the Senate. (See: H.R.669 - Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 and corresponding Senate bill S. 200.)

Here's a chart I made showing the growth of that support month-by-month:

Growth of support for HR.669
Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017

There was support for the bill across the country -- although by far the strongest support was on the West Coast and in the Northeast Corridor.

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Eliminating nuclear weapons: more urgent than any other problem. What if all 535 US senators and representatives decided to take on this challenge?

And -- perhaps more importantly -- what if citizens in each of their states and districts became those senators' and representatives' dedicated collaborators in accomplishing this?

I have always believed that constituents had a role to play in influencing action in Congress. But as our departure for Madeline Island neared, I began to think much more deeply about what that role might look like. To put it bluntly: might citizens be co-problem-solvers together with the people serving in Congress, and with their staff? Might there be value in conversation and relationship that goes far beyond ordinary "issue advocacy"? -- especially on a problem of such an existential character?

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It's been a long week: California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, and finally Wisconsin. Now it's time to rest.

There will be time to talk more about citizenship tomorrow.

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