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Running Against the Republicans AND the Democrats

"Stink Eye Politics" - Running Against the Republicans AND the Democrats: Why I'm Campaigning for Cindy Sheehan

by Ann Wright,
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

I am in San Francisco this week before the election, campaigning for Cindy Sheehan. She is running against both the Republican and Democratic establishments, but more specifically against Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.

As speaker of the House, Pelosi represents and leads the Democratic Party that failed to end the war in Iraq, failed to hold the president and vice president of the United States accountable for the lies in the war in Iraq, taking impeachment out of the constitution and "off the table," knowing about the torture program and refusing to make it public and stop it, voting for FISA eavesdropping on American citizens, OK-ing the $700 billion bailout and a lot more. She knew these things and didn't stop them.

In the summer of 2007 while we were in hot, dusty Crawford, Texas, for the third summer in a row protesting Bush's continuation of the war in Iraq, Cindy decided to challenge Pelosi for taking impeachment off the table. In one of her first statements upon becoming speaker of the House of Representatives in January 2007, Pelosi had said impeachment hearings would be too divisive for America. As recently as yesterday, October 29, she has said there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the administration. (Congressman Dennis Kucinich spoke for hours on the floor of the House of Representatives about the administration's criminal acts and many books have been written on the subject.)

In July 2008, Cindy announced that she was giving Pelosi ten days to put impeachment back into the Constitution. In those ten days, Cindy and a team numbering from 20-60 persons from Camp Casey traveled from Crawford to Washington, DC, stopping at towns and cities along the way to talk about the lack of accountability for criminal acts by government officials while in office (war in Iraq, kidnapping, torture, illegal eavesdropping.) When we arrived in Washington, DC, 400 persons joined us to march from Arlington National Cemetery to the House of Representatives, where we sat all day in the hallways around Pelosi's and House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers' offices.

Cindy, the mother of Casey Sheehan (who was killed in Iraq in April 2004); former CIA presidential briefer and US Army Captain Ray McGovern, and minister and ex-US Air Force Captain and Chaplain Rev. Lennox Yearwood, met with Conyers for over two hours, urging him to begin Congressional hearings that could lead to the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

They emerged from Conyers' office visibly shaken after Conyers told them that the Democrats were more concerned about winning the 2008 presidential election than about ending the war in Iraq or about holding Bush and Cheney accountable for their criminal actions.

Upon hearing the results of the talk with Conyers, 47 of us surged into Conyers' office and refused to leave until Conyers called for impeachment hearings. About 8 o'clock that night, the Capitol police came into his office and arrested all of us.

Since Pelosi had not put impeachment back onto the table, while in Washington, DC, Cindy announced that she would run for Congress against the speaker of the House.

In January 2008, Cindy moved from her home close to the Bay area to Pelosi's district in San Francisco and began her campaign for Congress. She relentlessly spoke at hundreds of civic events in San Francisco and attended meetings of virtually every organization in the city. In a short time, she became a visible presence in the city.

Running as an independent, she had to collect 10,000 signatures to be on the ballot, and despite all odds, she became only the sixth independent candidate for Congress from California to raise the required number.

Then the Democratic Party and corporate media machine kicked into gear. No mainstream media in San Francisco covered her official announcement for Congress and none have covered her race against Pelosi. Suddenly, the "peace mom" whose talks and appearances had been covered extensively in San Francisco around the country by the media - was iced out. Print, TV and radio interviews dried up. Only internet news media would publish her writings and cover her active campaign in San Francisco.

This week I joined the many volunteers from all over the country who have knocked on doors, held signs on street corners, passed out issue position papers and talked to voters about why Cindy is challenging the woman in the leadership position of the House of Representatives.

It turns out that the voters in San Francisco are just as angry as Cindy is about Pelosi's refusal to stop funding war, her knowledge about torture from briefings of the administration and her refusal to hold Bush and Cheney accountable for their criminal acts. From the informal polls I have taken this week of voters coming out of the City Hall's early voting station, Cindy's campaign against Pelosi has triggered a strong response against Pelosi.

It has been very interesting to see the expressions of longtime Democrats who work in City Hall as we ask them to consider voting for Cindy. They have the same expression, the "stink eye" on their faces, as the Republicans with whom we have argued in Congress over the past five years about the war in Iraq and torture.

In those moments, the "stink eye" reflex to accountability and to standing up to the existing political system reveals the real challenge - forcing the two major political parties that have been tacitly working together to promote and continue war and to hold no one accountable - to move over for real change in our political system.



Ann Wright is a retired Army Reserve colonel and a 29-year veteran of the Army and Army Reserves. She was also a diplomat in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the Department of State on March 19, 2003, in opposition to the Iraq war. She joined Cindy Sheehan and 12,000 others in the ditches of Crawford, Texas, in August 2005 to protest President Bush's war on Iraq. She is also the co-author of the book, "Dissent: Voices of Conscience."

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