This is what happens when you mix ex-hippies, a war, the night following George Bush's state of the delusional, myself and a meeting to mark the anniversary of the start of the Iraq war with a rally or march in Tacoma, WA. Maybe its old age vs my relative youth, maybe its drugs, or maybe it's my left brain thinking just not mixing with a room full of right brained folks. But would someone help me explain to a bunch of old ex-hippies that puppets will not end the war.
Two years ago a few activists got together and organized a protest against the war and maybe 50 people showed up. Then people started getting mad about the war. There was a town hall about Iraq featuring Congressman Adam Smith and 400 people showed up. That helped motivate even more people and besides the peace folks, labor and many churches joined to organize a march that numbered about a 1,000 people marching through the streets of Tacoma.
So now, in 2007, when most of the American people are against the war and Congress could actually, just possibly, get some backbone to do something about it, the answer is...puppets?
I helped start a non-profit called America In Solidarity (and if you do anything tonight, sign up to be a volunteer on our website) which has grown to be a somewhat respected group representing working families in the Puget Sound area. We've done a few town halls on the war (cause the war effects working folks more than anybody). So we are called for a lot of these things, including the initial meeting of this year's march. At my tender age of 31 years, I am usually the youngest in such meetings.
Oh and on a slight sidetrack, where the hell is my generation when it comes to protesting this war. We hosted a town hall in Seattle, and out of 700 people maybe a couple dozen were under 30. The town hall in Tacoma, maybe 20 people under 30 out of 400. Last year's march, was as gray as a Paul McCartney concert.
So I am driving to this meeting and thinking how this year's event could make a difference. Tacoma is split among two moderate Democrats (Smith and Norm Dicks) in the House who now hold somewhat powerful seats on key committees. Both draped themselves in the flag and supported the war, then waffled and now talk about how awful it is. Yet, neither has made a gesture to be a leader in offering an alternative to the quagmre in Iraq. Furthermore, Senator Maria Cantwell has mirrored Smith and Dicks in her attitude about the war.
As much as I love Dennis Kucinich (hey I went bowling with the guy...want to see the picture?)a plan out of Iraq might be more pallatable to the rest of the Dems if someone like Dicks, Cantwell or Smith offered up a solution. So I thought maybe if last year's march of 1.000 could turn into 3,000 or 5,000 or (never sell yourself short) 10,000 people, maybe then one of those three would grow the chest hair to do something substantial. So my driving dream is of soccer moms and military wives, peace activists, union members and every progressive church in town locked arm-in-arm marching to our congressional reps office, breaking down the doors and demanding a solution in Iraq.
And then the next day, Norm makes a rare speech about the Dicks plan out of Iraq and that Cantwell will introduce a similar measure in the Senate, and within a week the pullout begins. And the course of history changed from one rally in Tacoma.
It sounded good and I was expecting the normal faces at this first meeting to help pull it together. The war would be over, national health care would be next, Wal-Mart would then crumble, America would elect Kucinich or Edwards president, and all would be well.
So when the meeting is finally called and introductions are made, I seem to be the only union guy there. And there is only one rep from all of the churches. And about one other person I have any confidence in accomplishing much. But there is surely about 10 people there from a newly formed group of peace activists that want to use art to help bring attention to the war. They then proceed to tell how giant puppets and colored umbrellas will bring alot of color and attention to the march (well they were the only one to type something up).
I listen for about 10 minutes and then ask, "Excuse me, how is a giant puppet going to make Norm Dicks be a leader in bringing our troops home?" Of course now I am anti-puppet in their eyes.
The conversation drifts back into art contests, again I interject "Um, we don't have a date, place to march or even a conversation about who speaks"
Gee, seems like these are slightly bigger issues at an initial meeting than the minute details about...puppets. But that is where the conversation kept wanting to go. The puppet people are all convinced that puppets are going to make a difference about the war.
Am I the only one who thinks seasoned politicians are going to look at the news coverage and see ex-hippoes with giant paper-mache puppets and then go "Hmm I wonder if it is going to rain tomorrow?"
Or would they be more worried if 5,000 people in a normally sleepy town were marching to their office demanding results?
So there I am in a meeting, the lone-sensible x-generation (or am I y-generation, hell who cares) trying to beat some sense into some ex-hippies in their late 50's.
I've never smoked pot and its times like these that I never will. Please god don't let me someday be 50ish and worried about puppets.
Frankly, I probably shouldn't be bitching. At least the ex-hippie puppet people were there. None of our other community leaders, elected or selected, were there. The mayor and some of the citycouncilmen will probably march, but they won't lead from the start.
So what it really comes down to is GW Bush. Because his arrogance and greed have us still even talking about Iraq, I have to deal with the ex-hippie puppet people and try to convince them its people, not puppets that will end the war. We have toget thousands out marching in Tacoma.
Then we have to keep that same number marching about affordable health care, and against Wal-Mart, and...