by Joe Scarry
I’ve come to believe that the 2014 midterms will be crucial for the movement for peace and liberty. The more I think about it, the more I think the surveillance issue will be the fulcrum in 2014.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it would take to have a “scorecard” that would enable us to evaluate who is doing a good job of representing us in Congress . . . and who needs to lose their seats.
The public debate that stopped the attack on Syria helped clarify my thinking: it was clear that constituents DO care about certain issues . . . and their representatives WILL listen — at least, if they want to keep on being their representatives.
|A message in code . . . ?|
So what are the peace and liberty issues that will matter in 2014?
In my opinion, we need to focus on issues that the broad public feels a visceral connection to. Clearly, the public felt a visceral connection to the possibility of a U.S. attack on Syria. We should dig deeper into what that was all about. I can’t think of a bigger learning opportunity for us in the days ahead.
At the same time, I think we need to admit that sometimes the issues that we feel the most moral urgency around are not striking a chord with the general public at the moment. When this is the case, we need to be really thoughtful about how we present those issues and be really strategic about the expectations we set for ourselves and other members of our movement. For example, I personally feel very strongly about the flagrant disregard for the rule of law in the U.S. policy of detention and Guantanamo — but I need to be realistic about whether that issue will determine what happens in the 2014 midterms.
We face many tough questions. Does the general public really care about whether the U.S. government is violent? Do people care about the amount of money being spent on war? What reallygets their attention?
One issue that has a key place in this, 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!
Is it possible that the fight against U.S. surveillance will be a key component in bringing people together on a broader agenda of peace and liberty?
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:
Edward J. Snowden has forced us to confront what we all knew already: our government is running wild and we can’t get our privacy back, short of some kind of very extreme change . . . . We have a problem with our government. It sees opportunities for power in every bit and byte of our personal data, and it’s time to call it what it is: wrong.
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?